Why is writing about these losses so dang hard? You can tell Erik and I take our dear time to process what went wrong when the Boilers aren't victorious, and if you read his recap of the Michigan State game, you'll see why. It could be appropriate to start this post again complaining about poor officiating, but the last thing we want is to be known as "those guys who always blame it on the refs." And honestly, I used to be far worse than Erik, and I'm still pretty bad (it's that whole injustice thing), but while the officiating was horrible again, sometimes it went Purdue's way and often it didn't. Them's the breaks.
|Not a foul, huh?|
- It's hard to win games when you're missing layups and shots in the paint
- I can't find any stats on the topic, but Purdue had to miss at least half of their shots within two feet of the basket. A few more converted layups and this game is very, very different down the stretch. Remember, the OSU lead was only six points with just under three minutes to play. That's also a time frame where Purdue didn't score a single point. As frustrating as the outside shooting woes have been this season, I didn't expect missing layups to be this big a problem. It's just another piece of evidence on how Purdue can do most things correctly, but still make simple mistakes (often out of youth) that make it all for naught.
- It's hard to win games when critical players get in foul trouble
- Before the game even started (by the way, what a horrible jump ball toss. My grandma could have executed that better) I commented to my buddy that we were toast if Hammons OR Lawson got in foul trouble. People often talk about Hammons needing to stay on the court as our only decent option at center, but Lawson is just as critical at the four spot. When Lawson picked up his second foul less than four minutes into the game, I knew Purdue was in trouble. Lawson's energy and defensive prowess are critical to this team, especially against physical teams (no matter their actual size). It went down hill quickly (even with OSU losing Craft to foul trouble), and it then escalated when Hammons had to sit eight minutes into the game.
- I don't like picking on players, but I have to be honest. Carroll and Hale cannot be in the game at the same time. They provide almost nothing offensively and played horrible defense. Hale missed his only two attempts, and both were getting burned inside playing Olé defense. Slow and plodding won't cut it in the Big Ten. Thankfully after a couple minutes (where the deficit peaked at nine points), Painter realized the same thing and brought Lawson back in even with his two fouls. Still, I was screaming for Painter to insert Marcius for Carroll, even though he hadn't played any meaningful minutes since the Lamar game (and that was a blowout, so he had basically been benched since the NYC trip). My buddy thought I was crazy.
- While I'm writing about what went wrong in the game, let me reserve this space for giving a great deal of respect to Chooch. I begged for him amid laughter from my peers, and then the Croatian Sensation did me proud. In his first minute on the floor, Sandi had two steals, an assist, and an offensive rebound. Someone was fired up for playing time! I know offensively he can look goofy and he airballed a contested over-the-shoulder put-back attempt later on, but I'm not asking for him to be a star. I'm asking for him to do something, nay anything, to help the team while Hammons gets a rest. Carroll sure wasn't. Over the eight minutes Marcius played in the first half, the OSU lead leveled off, with the Buckeyes only scoring eight points during that time on three jump shots and a free throw. His final stat line was two points, four rebounds (two offensive), three steals, and one assist in eleven minutes of action.
- Due to Hale's poor play, Painter ended up using Ray Davis at the four spot, and he, much like Chooch, put in a great performance. He played physical defense, went three for three shooting with a steal, and attacked the basket. There's so much potential with Davis if he could show more consistency, but hopefully we see more of him in the rotation and less of Hale.
- And we thought Purdue's depth in the front court was going to be a strength this season, yikes! At least Hammons and Lawson have a lot of years left.
|Chooch blocking the passing lane|
- It's hard to win games when you don't play as physical as the other team
- Against Illinois, Purdue played 40 minutes of high intensity basketball and tenacious defense. Against MSU, we saw some of it, but not for the entire game, and when certain calls went against Purdue, the life went out of the Boiler sails. The same happened this week. During stretches of the first half and down the stretch, it sometimes looked like no one wearing gold wanted to be on the court. I don't care what personnel are in the game at that time, everyone can play with intensity and physicality. Just ask Chooch.
- It's hard to win games when you can't shoot from outside
- Purdue almost shot the three ball (38%) better than from elsewhere (39%), which is pretty disappointing. It seemed like they missed every long two-point attempt, and Terone missed all three of his three-pointers.
- To make matters worse, Ohio State shot over 56% from the field, which if you had told me that stat going into the game, I wouldn't have given the Boilers any chance of victory
- It's hard to win games when you don't take advantage of mismatches
- I would have thought getting Craft in early foul trouble less than five minutes into the game would have been an asset, but a one-point deficit became a fourteen point hole. I referenced some reasons why the Boilers couldn't stop the Buckeyes from scoring above, but to falter so poorly offensively when the conference's "best" defender was on the bench for such a long stretch is disgraceful.
- For a stretch of the second half, Painter went small with four guards and Hammons in the game, and the offense really started to click. Making that adjustment would have been nice in the first half when the team was hemorrhaging points, but hopefully it was a good experiment that will help the Boilers win games down the road.
- It's hard to win games when you don't use your head
- Either this team needs higher basketball IQ or there's a competition in the locker room to see who can shoot the most times per game. Those are the only reasons for guys like DJ and the Johnsons taking really bad shots so early in the shot clock. When you're offense struggles (and you have difficulty making deep shots), it means you need to work harder running the motion. Things can eventually open up, but missing quick shots ruins a potential easier scoring opportunity while wearing you out by forcing you to get back on defense and exhaust 30 seconds of energy. Make the opponent work for the stops! There was a period in the second half where the offense was clicking incredibly well and getting the Boilers easy looks inside. If only that had happened in the first half, the outcome may have been different.
- If the refs are calling a foul for even breathing on Aaron Craft, figure out another way to stop him, including getting him back in foul trouble by driving at him. I did appreciate on thing Dan Dakich said during the broadcast (and the only interesting thing he said): Aaron Craft told him he commits a foul every defensive possession, but the refs can't call them all. So true, punk.
I also have to comment about moving screens. Like holding calls in football, they are one of my biggest pet peeves in the college game because some teams seem to constantly commit the foul, only to never (or rarely) be called. It's a distinct advantage to play (and coach) that way if the refs aren't going to call it (just like holding). I was thrilled to see one (or two?) call on OSU in the first half (and one on Purdue?), but then the whistle stopped being blown, and I have no idea why. They were horrible, and they seem to always be when playing OSU and certain other teams. In the second half, I don't think Amir Williams set a single clean pick. It's hard for man defense to fight around a screen that keeps shifting illegally, so it puts the Boilers at a distinct disadvantage.
p.s. the gold and black stripes in Mackey looked awesome!