Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Basketball Recap: Notre Dame 81 - Purdue 68

You know what's really fun?  Being on vacation and not having to sit through a Purdue loss.

You know what's not fun?  Forcing yourself to watch every minute of a game you know Purdue already lost, just so you can write about it.  This blog doesn't allow me to be blissfully ignorant.

This picture is far better looking than the game
On Saturday, Purdue lost in the Crossroads Classic to Notre Dame, the first time the teams have met in the regular season since 46 years ago.  It sure would have been nice to play this game during a year when the Boilers were respectable.  Going into the season, most fans expected this game to be a loss, but good teams still show up and play, even when they are big underdogs.

Watching the game, I don't think it would have been that enjoyable even if I didn't know the eventual outcome.  The first half was sloppy and littered with ugly basketball on both ends, but despite Notre Dame shooting a high percentage, it was a close contest. With about six minutes left, Purdue had cut the Belligerent Irish lead to four points, partly thanks to a technical foul on Mike Brey and two DJ Byrd free throws.  But after a missed alley-oop, a missed three pointer, and giving up an easy layup in transition, the Boilers never got closer the rest of the way.

The same frustrating things continue to plague the Boilers, and while learning takes time, I just hope that two months from now some of the problems have been addressed and players are developing - even if that means Purdue is still losing.  Let's post the "what went wrong" list again:

  • Poor offense/shooting: Omitting Ray Davis (more about him later), the team shot 33% from the field.  That's really horrible, painful to watch, and makes Purdue look worse than a mid-major team.
  • Poor second half start: It took the Boilers ten minutes to score four points in the second half.  Yes, they were on pace for eight points in the entire half.  Pitiful.  During that time, ND scored 18 points, and Purdue committed five fouls, three turnovers, and missed thirteen shots.
  • Poor defense: The team had trouble closing out on ND's shooters, although they played scrappy at times, and the big men didn't play strong defense inside, giving up lots of buckets in the paint.
  • Poor free throw shooting?: We've harped on this all season, but the Boilers actually made 74% of their free throws.  That's a fantastic improvement, and Ronnie Johnson was the only one that shot them poorly (50%)
  • Poor rebounding: the good guys were out-rebounded by nine, but that's what happens when you shoot so poorly
The only good news?  The guys didn't let Scott Martin make much of an offensive impact (5 points on 2 of 8 shooting)!  Hooray.

OK, I lied, that's not the only good news.  The real silver lining is that Ray Davis had an outstanding second half, scoring all 21 of his points on 8 of 9 shooting in less than ten minutes.  After the Boilers had gone over nine minutes with only two second-half points, Davis took over.  And this wasn't against scrubs: ND only goes seven guys deep, so it was against starters.  Davis made Scott Martin look old and slow a few times, but that's not surprising, since Martin is exactly that. Other than just being on fire hitting contested shots, Davis did his damage mostly by taking the ball inside and using his physicality. I think someone's earned some more playing time, and I can't wait to see it. 

Here are some awkward photos I found online, because they feel fitting right now.

Lamaze class.  Congratulations, it's a basketball, but who's the father? 
Simpson takes a break for Tae Bo practice.
Lawson is really good at playing the copycat game

Standings Update
Although we both expected Notre Dame to win, Erik mistakenly thought it would be a close game, so he takes a ding against his near-perfect record this season, moving to 10-2 against my 5-7 record.  I'm still going to lose a lot of money this season.

Erik +198
Kirk -88

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