You know I'm on a bit of holiday hangover when Erik's got the next basketball game preview up before I post the recap of the last game. Sorry loyal readers, and I hope it didn't ruin your day yesterday not having some basketball analysis to read. Never mind, I know what ruined your day instead.
On Saturday the Boilers had their final non-conference game against William & Mary, and although the good guys won, these facial expressions give a perfect summary to how enjoyable the win was.
|Ronnie No Likey|
|Ray just praying (to get by the approaching Geico caveman)|
|Close your eyes and go to your happy place. Just don't flail any phantom elbows.|
William and Mary is not a very good team, but the Boilers let them shoot well and keep the game close throughout. At halftime Purdue was actually losing by a point, and the game was still tied with under eight minutes to play. With less than two minutes left and a scant two-point lead, the Boilers pulled away thanks to a Ray Davis offensive rebound and subsequent two free throws. The lead grew from there and Purdue actually closed out well in a close game.
Obviously things weren't great, but what else went right?
- The scoring was led, as usual, by Terone (16 pts) and Hammons (14 pts). Both these guys need to have big games in conference play if there's hope of any significant victories.
- Jacob Lawson continues to be a firecracker, and I simply love his energy, defense, and, dare I say it, leadership by example on the court. Three great buckets in close (no misses!), three blocks, and some nice rebounds in limited time, he makes opponents really have to work inside. While big AJ is a bit slower with his larger frame clogging the paint, Lawson runs and leaps all over the place. When he left with foul trouble in the first half (he had two in the first three minutes), the defensive intensity definitely withered.
- Ronnie put together the best all-around game: 3 for 6 shooting, 5 for 6 from the stripe, seven assists, five rebounds, three steals, and only two turnovers. Hope he can do that regularly against Big Ten competition!
- Free throw shooting was actually good again, and critical down the stretch with a small lead. Yes, I know the Boilers missed three of their final four attempts, but at that point the game wasn't in question, and just prior they had made their last five. Overall they shot 74%, and hitting that mark could have secured wins over Bucknell, Villanova, and Eastern Michigan.
- This young team has had trouble with turnovers, but they only committed seven against the Tribe while dishing out 17 assists. That's a margin for a very successful team, and while I expect the sloppy play to reemerge against tougher Big Ten defenses, it's at least a great building block.
And what went wrong?
- Three-pointers: Erik told you how the Tribe were holding teams to 24% three-point shooting, and Purdue was more of the same. The team was 3 of 12 (25%) with shots taken by DJ (2 of 7), Terone (1 of 3), and little AJ (0 of 2). Without DJ being hot, there's simply no threat from outside, and missing a handful of these shots doesn't do any good. It wastes possessions and doesn't force the defense to unpack the paint and get out to contest the shots, since Purdue misses them even when wide open. Take away all the three attempts, and the team shot 52% on the game, not too bad. I'd like to see a policy where no player is allowed to attempt more than two three-pointers in the first half, period. That includes Byrd. This team isn't going to all of a sudden be able to hit them consistently, and while there may be another random Clemson barrage or a game where everyone seems to get hot, that's going to be a rare exception.
- Decision making on offense: Too often the Boilers are settling for bad shots, whether they are uncontrolled drives, awkward mid-range shots, or badly missed three pointers, it just seems like they sometimes stop running the offense and give in to their worst instincts. This team isn't good enough to waste so many possessions, and even against a weak William and Mary team, there were lots of shots that left me scratching my head.
Another silver-lining? No more horribly broadcast games viewable exclusively online!
Erik +236 (12-2 Against The Spread)
Kirk -87 (6-8 Against The Spread)
I'm certainly enjoying my victory in the football standings, since basketball is a lost cause. Maybe I can go 18-0 to close out respectably and make Erik sweat.