First off, the Lady boilers Volleyball team fell short at Texas in the NCAA Elite 8. Mostly, this was because of injury, which is what seems pre-ordained to derail any Purdue season at this point. I am still proud of our boilers, who will have a great season next year because of this experience.
As for basketball, today was the magic formula for victory. JJ and E'Twaun scored 20+ points. If you listen to every national commentator, there is absolutely no hope of a Purdue victory, even against the Indiana School for the Deaf, unless JaJuan Johnson and E'Twaun Moore score at least 30 points, sell 100 tickets, and pass out 10 soft drinks to those in attendance. It is a vast difference to Indiana's 2012 recruiting class, which merely needs to continue taking oxygen from earth's atmosphere and convert it to carbon dioxide so they can win the 2013-1016 National Titles.
Sorry, a tad bit of exaggeration is in order. It was a boring preview because we should have this game by 20 points under any circumstance (including alien invasion, mass rioting in the streets, and general indifference by the Hanson Brothers). It was a boring game as a result. I was covering a high school game at the time of this one and I haven't seen a single highlight, but I knew it would be a win when Larry Clisby said JJ was toying with the Ospreys. North Florida had to call three of their five timeouts in the game's first 10 minutes. With a team as talented as ours, how could this not be a win?
We all know the full numbers by this point. If you don't, there is a link to them on this page. JJ and E'Twaun, the only people on this team who know what a basketball is (and , if you listen to the Cliz, only JJ really knows this secret) we're JJ and E'Twaun. By now this duo is more important to Purdue fans than Batman & Robin, Woodward and Bernstein, and Peanut Butter & Jelly.
While you can read ESPN.com for the generic wrap up that focuses on JJ and E'Twaun overcome the overwhelming handicap of no Robbie Hummel to blowout a cupcake, the real story can be found in the box score. It is in the box score that we have the secret to any success that we will have the rest of this season.
Go on, look closely. I don't mind.
Are you done? Good. Inside this 20-point win are a lot of good things:
The Hanson Brothers - As predicted, Patrick Bade, Travis Carroll, and Sandi Marcius got plenty of (necessary) run. They did not light up the scoreboard in terms of points, but they did the little things that, if they can replicate them against Big Ten competition, will go a long way towards our success this season. Sandi didn't score but had seven boards, which is something that coach Painter will love because that comes from effort. Carroll had six points and three boards with a dime and a steal. Bade, which to some Purdue fans is more worthless than Uwe Blab, scored and had a pair of rebounds.
All three of these guys contributed in positive ways. I have seen some vicious things about Bade said in the very comments of this blog. The kid is trying, and at least moved forward tonight. Marcius and Carroll made the most of their minutes. If all three of them can use today as a positive experience and build on it, then it was a good game overall.
Assists - once again, we had 22 assists on 29 made baskets. It is clear that we play as a team when we know that the competition is severely overmatched. We now need to transition this to good opponents and work in the flow of our offense to get the best shot from the best pass. If you do that on as many possessions as possible it is easy to score.
Lewis Jackson - Keep doing what's you're doing, young man. As long as you are a threat to score on the dribble-drive you give us a third element that only basketball coaches (and not analysts) can think of. Five points and eight dimes is nearly the perfect night for LewJack.
Ryne Smith - I am not going to rip the kid because he is smart with his shots. He knows if he has a wide open look he is going to take it and make it fall. Who cares if he has 734 (approximate) pump fakes per game? As long as he can hit the shots where no one is within five feet of him he will make people respect him when he does shoot.
Normally I wouldn't be so concerned about a 20 point win over a low major team, but today was key because this team remembered that it can dominate with all the parts other than JJ an E'Twaun. It went back to the team we saw in the first four games that rolled over everyone with all players involved. It was the type of team we need to be against good teams, rather than relying on JJ and E'Twaun for everything. Yes, they got theirs, but they were not the sole attraction.
I hate to reference Hoosiers, but we have to be a team functioning as five parts of a single unit when we are on the floor, no matter who is out there. If JJ and E'Twaun are on the floor at the same time, I have seen us panic too much against our better opponents so far and wait for them to do something. Today we remembered others can be involved. The next step is having a widely balanced effort like this against a good team.
We won't have that chance until facing Northwestern in three weeks. We can, and should, defeat Indiana State, IPFW, and Michigan with relative ease. Our next real test will be against the Wildcats, who will want to get a win in Mackey for their NCAA resume. If we can use the next three games to keep everyone involved like we did today we will come out on top in that one.