Thursday, January 03, 2013

Enter The Leatherman

If you visit this site regularly, you've read and listened to James change from a confident fan, to questioning observer to a flat-out doubtful critic.  J and I have gone through the same changes, but ours was a bit more abrupt- I was confident that Purdue would have 20-21 wins before the season...but after watching my Boilers play in person, I quickly became wise to the fact that this Purdue team was no where near a Purdue team that we've become accustomed to.

Gone was the one guy who would step up when needed.

Gone was the continuity.

Gone was the defense.

Gone was the spark.

Gone was the hustle.

The absence of hustle made my assessment easy.  We all knew Purdue would struggle to learn how to play again. I mean, when you lose pillars of a program, it happens.  BUT, I thought aloud that since there were so many healthy young guys, this team would be indoctrinated into Painter's idea of sacrificing skin on your elbows for the sake of the team.

Instead, these guys liked to watch loose balls bounce around until they found an opponent's hands.  They didn't seem to love pestering their opponent with gnat-like annoying traits...but sagged off and mimicked a sleep walker.

Heck, even when they played hard, they could only do it for 20-30 minutes...then they'd lose interest and allow games to slip through their pillowy-soft grasp.
Not pretty, but it works.
A Matt Painter team without grit is like a boilerdowd post without analogies...it just doesn't work and no seems to be too interested in it.

BUT, a Matt Painter team with grit and toughness is familiar, inspired and a metaphorical symphony.

You typically don't see and hear fans bragging about the methodology of a timeout being called...but last night, DJ Byrd's timeout set the Twitterverse ablaze.  In a split second, after being shoved by an Illinis player, Byrd assessed the out of bounds line, the trajectory of the ball and the placement of the official in order to make a truly brilliant, game-saving timeout. Yes, I just typed that sentence.

After weeks upon weeks of Byrd scratching and clawing to be someone he simply is not, it clicked...in the form of a loose ball timeout.

Byrd IS NOT Smooge, or the Ostrich, CK3 or even Ryne Smith.  But I think he was trying to be all of those guys...all at one time...and it wasn't working. And since he was on the poster this season and was a Senior and had worked so hard in the off-season, I think he believed he and his game would transform into the number one option for Purdue in just one off-season.

But for Purdue to be consistently successful this season, David Jonathan Byrd will need to be a Leatherman, of sorts, this year.

The screw driver on a Leatherman doesn't work as well as a typical phillips or flat screw driver...but it does the job. The pliers are kind of uncomfortable in your hand because the handle has all of that crap in it, but it can still pull a nail out of a 2x4...and when in a pinch, you take this beast-of-burden tool and smack things around with it.  It's not as sleek and sexy as a Swiss Army Knife...it's more utilitarian.  It doesn't have a high-gloss surface, but a brushed, almost dull, finish.  Mine is gunked up with paint and dried glues and has battle scars from when I got myself into trouble, but only had a four year old as an assistant who didn't know what I needed when I asked for the hammer.  But dammit, that jack of some traits is a tool that's indispensable in the Bdowd household.

When Matty's Leatherman tries to be Ryne Smith, it doesn't really do the job-  He's not a pure shooter. When The Leatherman tries to be E'Twaun Moore, it really doesn't work either- he has a hard time creating space.  He's not quite big or skilled enough to be Hummel, not nuts enough to be Kramer...he's a different thing altogether.

15 points is a solid game versus a team ranked in the top-15...but none of the things Byrd did last night that were really important show up in the stat line...he made everybody else work better...and when his teammates needed a play the most, he made it.

Admittedly, I didn't want Byrd with the ball in his hands in the closing minutes as Illinois extended the pressure.  We all know that doesn't doesn't go well.  That's the time for Ronnie Johnson to do what he did last night- quickly evade swiping hands and get out of trouble.

The leading scorer had a monster stat line: 25pts, 9 reb and 4ast...but Terone Johnson is no DJ Byrd.
Not pretty, but it works.
Last night, the kid from Crawfordsville finally helped his team play a game that we all thought they were capable of playing, and did it in utilitarian, workmanlike fashion.

Byrd and his teammates all accepted their roles last night, and the end result was their first complete game and their first win versus a quality opponent of the season. Will  they all be able to know their roles come Saturday in East Lansing?

9 comments:

WinamacBoiler said...

"metaphorical symphony".... Awesome.

boilerdowd said...

Laying it on pretty, thick, huh.

Andrew and Travis said...

Byrd had 2 giant plays but it seems like everything I read on this game forgets to mention Terone Johnson. He played like a man last night. I was fortunate enough to be there last night and to watch him on D was awesome. He shut down Illinois best player and still managed to put 25pts and 9 boards up. He had the big shots that kept Purdue close and then ahead. How about some love for TJ!

Cpt. Longshanks said...

I completely agree with the above poster. While Byrd did make a few really good plays, Terone carried this team last night, both offensively and defensively.

boilerdowd said...

First off, J talked about TJohn in his post last night in pretty great detail. Second, I mentioned the stats you quote (Andrew and Travis)...not sure if you just gave up on the post or are ignoring them.

Lastly, the post was about how Byrd's ugly game was imperative to Purdue's win- TJohn has played well all season...and it yielded a 6-6 season. Byrd has not played great and the chasm was obvious...that's the point of this post- Purdue needs Byrd to lead and do the little things to free up the other guys to do what they do.

Cpt. Longshanks said...

Yea I guess the line "Terone Johnson is no DJ Byrd" just seemed to stand out more than any other. I get where you're coming from, but I really wouldn't be too upset if Ray Davis was to start taking away some of Byrd's minutes. The problem is that neither of them is very consistent, so your comment of how Byrd needs to play like this every game could not be truer. All in all, good post. Didn't mean to point out only the negative.

Lisa said...

Loved this post- so accurately sums up what DJ has needed to do all season- be himself.

Lisa said...

Loved this post- so accurately sums up what DJ has needed to do all season- be himself.

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