Monday, January 28, 2013

Another Look at Sunday

Up double digits midway through the second half on Iowa, Matty's boys were in the driver's seat...but like we've seen so many times this season, they're not comfortable with success just yet.  They allowed Iowa to scratch and claw back into the game...after being smart and savvy against Iowa's trap for much of the game, Purdue lost its focus, started taking ill-advised shots and nearly gave it away.

Ronnie Johnson has looked simply brilliant at times this season...but whenever I start to have thoughts of him becoming one of Purdue's best PGs, he'll quickly remind me of his youth.  Last night was a prime example of that.  When Purdue needed him to facilitate, he seemed to think it was the perfect time for him to shoot...and after a few missed shots, Purdue's lead turned into a deficit.  Then, TJohn got in on the poor decision business and took a bad three.  This was during one of his best, most complete games of the season.  That's probably what this team's biggest problem really is- it's not just the young guys who need to learn how to complete a game, but the vets too.

Inconsistent effort is something that plagues this team...and of course, missing free throws is another disease that this group suffers from.  Last night with about four minutes left, I said to my wife, as I always say, "Hit your free throws, win the game."  Shortly after Purdue started missing FTs, as we've become accustomed to.

Conversely, there's a lot that was good about the game- Of course, the fact that it was a win is a very good thing. While an NCAA bid is surely still this team's goal, it's still a long shot.  Beating the great teams will be important in order for them to make the dance...and beating the good to not-so-good teams is essential. Iowa falls into the latter category...When boiled down, it was a winnable game at home, that they won.  The next thing that was good is that Hammons played well again after a few games in which he was quiet...TJohn continued to be one of, if not the leading scorer and Byrd's hustle set a fire under the sleepy Mackey crowd, and subsequently, his teammates.  But, Donnie Hale and Travis Carroll both made some big plays...and that's what Painter's teams need most- guys to be ready to step up when called upon.

Lawson seems to be in the doghouse a bit right now, and last night he didn't even play.  So in his stead, Carroll had a few big boards and a an important shot block in the first half.  But in the second half, Hale made a ton of plays, specifically a drive to the left in the closing minutes that kept Purdue in the hunt.

Back to Lawson really quickly- I don't have any details on why his minutes have been limited of late, but whatever Painter's asking him to do, he needs to do- for himself and for the team.  He'll be important for the Boilers down the stretch if they're going to get near the NCAA tourney.

Prior to the win over Iowa, Purdue's Composite Computer Ranking was 80.  After beating a team in the 30s, it'll surely go up...but none of it matters unless they can pull some improbable wins in the coming games.  I continue to believe the magic number for The Forces of Good is nineteen: But going 8-4 to close out the season is little more than a pipe dream, at this point. The next opportunity to get an improbable win versus one of the nation's elite, of course, comes against the highly-talented, poorly-coached, always-unlikable Hoosiers on Wednesday.

If the Paint Crew is motivated, which they clearly weren't on Sunday, they can make Mackey one of the hardest places in the nation to play for opponents.  But due to poor attendance by the students and a general malaise among the entire crowd for much of the game, it really wasn't loud until the closing moments of the game. Granted, it was a snoozer, especially in the first half- Purdue couldn't and wouldn't score, and Iowa was worse...but as J said yesterday, the opponent shouldn't matter.  If you've got four or five years to be a student at Purdue enjoy your time and take advantage of having a short walk to one of the best arenas in the nation each game. The Paint Crew has set the bar high...so when they do what they did last night, it's pretty obvious.  1000+ empties for a B1G conference game is pretty weak, regardless of who Purdue is playing.

The fact is Purdue's general fanbase that comes to Mackey is a largely passionless group, sadly. For the first time this season, but about the 20th time ever, I had a fellow Boiler take umbrage with my cheering; too loudly, not to their liking, whatever. Purdue needs the Paint Crew to be lathered up and ready to go each game...no question about it, in order for Mackey to be the proverbial hornet's nest that I've come to know and love...and visitors have come to fear.

Five ranked opponents left on the docket...beating the 7th-best team in the nation, especially one with that coach, from that place could go a long way into making this season a success.  T-Minus just 57.5 hours until tip-off.

Choo Choo, Muthas.

7 comments:

Ben C said...

"Last night with about four minutes left, I said to my wife, as I always say, 'Hit your free throws, win the game.' Shortly after Purdue started missing FTs, as we've become accustomed to."

Well then stop saying that.

boilerdowd said...

That must be the problem!!

BoilerWhat said...

The crowd situation is very disappointing. I'll be seeing red if I see red on Wednesday.

jcrain1984 said...

with the massive presence of JJ, smooge and Robbie, none of the upper classmen have ever had to be in a position of leadership, so it's only natural they'd have some growing pains this season while one or more of them learned to assume that role. I have the utmost confidence that TJ will be that guy by the end of this/start of next season. He's already shown flashes of it in stretches.

chevys10 said...

Kills me to say this, but the Indiana fans at Ass. Hall are actually showing very well. They stand quite a bit, and even the "older" folks are loud. Purdue's fans have got to make Mackey miserable for the Hoosiers. Wish I could make it up to the game. I'll be yelling at my TV, if that helps.

zlionsfan said...

Back in my first senior year (it was so much fun, I had two more), the vaunted Keady magic disappeared, and the Boilers failed to crack .500, both in conference play and overall. It wasn't anything like the previous season - you know, winning the Big Ten by 3 games, #1 seed - so I can understand the crowd being a bit thinner then.

But Purdue still went 6-3 at home in conference play: their only losses were to teams that finished in the top four, including the eventual national champs, and the team in the top four they beat was also a Final Four team.

If you have to miss a game in a down year, miss the Michigan game, or the Ohio game ... but be there for the rivalries, and be there for the games against non-elites. Those are the ones where you can have the most impact, where enough noise at the right time can lift the team once or twice and maybe flip a game. (People miss games, I get that. Hey, I only caught 13 of 16 volleyball matches this year.)

Illinois was 17-1 going into that game in '89. Their only loss was at Minnesota a week earlier. The Boilers didn't win by much, but they did win ... and the Illini would drop only four more games the rest of the way, all to Big Ten teams. (They also whacked Purdue in Champaign, 102-75. Let us not speak of that game.)

There were probably a lot of kids who didn't go to that game. I might not have gone. But I bet more than a few people who did go will always remember.

Go. Make noise. Wait and see. You might get more than you bargained for. (I know this doesn't apply to most BS readers - you either are already going or can't go. It's just a rhetorical device. BOOM English minor'd.)

Mark said...

I again blame Morgan Burke and the Athletic Department. They do ZERO effective advertising.

This year was going to be a rebuilding year. Market it. Promote it as such. "Building a Legacy" or something cheesy like that with billboards, commercials, etc.

The only thing we get is a plushy Pete.