Tuesday, February 05, 2013

Boilermaker Basketball: Freshmen Drive the Train

The Purdue Boilermakers faced the Penn State Nittany Lions who were riding a 13 game conference losing streak tonight at The Bryce Jordan Library Center.  The Boilermakers were able to pull off a victory after a strong second half effort winning 58 to 49. If you didn't watch the game you would say, a nine point win to Penn State? How is that a strong second half?

Well in the first half, our Boilermakers were down 9 with 5 minutes to play but after a strong last three minutes, the Boilers were able to get on a roll at the end of the half and carried that through half-time to take over the game.  Let's make one thing clear though, this Penn State team is AWFUL. They really miss Frazier and would be a completely different team with him.

The highlight of the night was the performance of the Boilermaker freshman.  The group of Ronnie Johnson, Donnie Hale, Raphael Davis and A.J. Hammons were a combined 54 percent from the field and amounted for 49 of the Boilers 58 points, pretty impressive.  Hale had a double double off the bench and Hammons had one as well.  Pretty impressive for a rather low scoring game.

Ronnie Johnson was impressive tonight. At times he looked unstoppable driving even going right a lot of the time, something we didn't see a lot out of him at the beginning of the season, and with only one turnover some progress is being made.  The free throw shot still needs some improvement.  At the end of the game he missed five in a row, ouch.

Davis had just a solid performance tonight but nothing special. He took a limited amount of shots and shot 50 percent from the field.

One thing that was concerning was the lack of 3-point offense again.  Once again the team was blanked again from beyond the arc for the second time this season.  DJ struggled and even looked hesitant in the second half.  Good news for the Boilermakers, Penn State wasn't good enough to capitalize.

DJ and TJ were still MIA tonight.  A combined 3-18 is impressive for two upperclassmen.  It is unacceptable really.  These two are what this team is missing right now.  I understand that you cannot be hot every night, but that is just awful.  Terone was taking bad shots and DJ just wasn't hitting good attempts, but hopefully they will start to click soon.

Overall it was good to see the Boilermakers battle back and get a victory, even if they were playing an awful team.

Here are a few of the Penn State stats that stick out, 19-62 from the field and 2-20 from beyond the arc. That says it all right there.  I didn't know if there was a worse shooting team in the conference than the Boilers, but Penn State takes that one, hands down.

A road victory isn't the easiest thing to come by in the Big Ten and it's nice to come out and get a win tonight, especially after such an awful week.  Now that the paper lions are in the record book it's time to refocus onto the Spartans coming into town on Saturday.  If you are doing nothing, you might as well get out to Mackey for this one, even if it's for no other reason than giving Brandon Dawson hell.

Choo Choo Muthas.


zlionsfan said...

Hammons, with help or on his own, has fixed something at the line. Prior to the Indiana game, he was barely above .500 at the line (23 of 44, .523). Since then, he's shooting a Hummelesque .815 (22-27).

Penn State went on a 17-4 run in the first half, which is like a normal team going on a 40-4 run. Purdue's possessions after Hale's basket made it 8-4: TO, TO, missed 3/TO, missed 2, missed 3, missed 3, missed layup, made layup, missed 3, missed 3, made layup, missed 2, missed 2, missed FTs, missed 2.

No second opportunities (the one offensive board was followed by a turnover). No points from outside. Two missed free throws. If they had been playing a team with a pulse, or if Hammons hadn't found the mark at the line (in the last 5 minutes, Ronnie missed 6 of 8 and Terone missed 1 of 2), this probably would have been a loss.

Man, I hope these guys can pull an upset. This offense is the worst Painter's had since his first season, and the three-point shooting is worse even than that team's. (Keady's last squad hit less than 30%, .296.) They're painful to follow ... one more good win might make the rest of the season a little brighter.

U-P Boiler said...

Watched Ronnie Johnson miss 4 FTs in a row in the last few minutes -- and PSU fittingly intentially fouled him during that time because he couldn't hit them - how SHAQ-like!

I think there's a decent chance of winning two of the last five, but if Hammons is the only player taking the free throw line seriously, Purdue will be lucky to beat NW at home.

Plang said...

Zlion - I agree. It literally hurts me to watch guys continually clank free throws like this team is doing. I put that squarely on the coaches. I know the players have to play and make the shots because they are on the floor, but the coaches have to get it in their heads one way or the other, even if it requires a drill.

It is probably time for Painter to just play the younger guys at this point. Get them toughened up for next year. Sounds like throwing in the towel, maybe it is. But after that showing against IU, why not? Do everything you can to try to get into the NIT and just give the young guys all the PT they can handle. I guess that is assuming we could even get an invite for the NIT - which may be a stretch.

Row Boilers said...

Plang, ditto your FT comments. This is a D1 school with 3 named assistant coaches, Ryno as student assistant coach, and 3 or 4 others on staff. Plus, TJ, AJ, Lawson and others were known liabilities at the line. How did this get so bad and why don't they improve?

Your NIT comments prompted me to look at our schedule. 8 games left, most optimistic estimate is 3 wins, 5 losses, no NIT. Do the events below NIT take losing records?

I'm concerned we may have won our last game this year. I think we will win 1 or 2 games. Anybody else want to guess?

zlionsfan said...

Don't forget the Big Ten tournament. I think any talk of postseason play has to include that ... because it's going to take a major turnaround to produce more than 1 more win in conference play, and even that requires better defense than the Boilers played in Evanston. Also, you can guarantee this Purdue team won't win the tournament, so there will be another loss in Indy.

4 wins with this schedule, the way the team's playing? I don't see it happening. I think it's more likely the Boilers lose out. (kenpom suggests the same, with about a 9% chance of going 12-19 and about a 7.5% chance of going 16-15.)

The CIT doesn't take power-conference teams, and the CBI takes into account how teams finish the season (so scratch that - if they play that well, they'd be over .500). So no, it's .500 or bust.