In the wake of High Point's near-fatal assault on Purdue, it's certainly within reason to be
a little concerned terrified for the future of this team.
After all, High Point was supposed to be a glorified exhibition game and a last minute tune-up for the Puerto Rico Tipoff.
Unfortunately Purdue left for Puerto Rico a day early.
It doesn't really take crime scene investigator to piece together the issues that led to Purdue's horrendous play. In fact, the box score (LINK) alone should provide enough material for Matt Painter to schedule a season's worth or practices.
Travis laid out Purdue's issues nicely: Playing against the zone, playing with a sense of urgency, and free throws are all glaring mistakes that need to be corrected. I would also add feeding the post (even at a minimal capacity), better movement off the ball, and doing a better job playing to their strengths (there is no reason why Kelsey Barlow should be taking a baseline three when the game is on the line).
Despite the near consensus in the comments and on the message boards, a game like last night wasn't all negative. Beyond the limited positives from the game itself, there are many reasons to be thankful for the events that transpired.
Here are a couple of reasons that we can be thankful for the scare:
- In retrospect, Purdue's 62 point blow-out against Northern Illinois may have been a bit of a curse. As much as we hate to admit it, the lopsided victory was just as much as NIU being young and...well....bad...than it is was about Purdue being great. This inflated confidence likely impacted the team as much as it impacted our expectations. Last night served as a welcomed reminder that nothing can be taken for granted this season. It's foolish to expect to seamlessly transition into the post-Smooge and JJ era without a hiccup or two and doing so is likely disrespecting their legacy. If Purdue didn't learn this lesson against High Point, they would have certainly figured it out against Iona or whoever else they may play in PR. In my opinion, we should be thankful that Purdue was given the stark reminder of who they are and still managed to limp away with a victory.
- Assuming you are Purdue football fans, you should be very familiar with the adage ‘A win is a win is a win is a win.' I am sure it's no consolation right now, but the difference between a close win against High Point and a loss is night and day. Not only would a loss be devastating to Purdue's RPI and chances of quickly climbing back into the top 25, but it would be crushing to this young team's confidence. They can now put the game behind them and learn from it.
- If they weren't doing it before, there's no question Purdue will be working on beating the 2-3 zone in practice. After last night's game, there is no question that many teams will have identified a major gap in Purdue's armor. Maybe now the team will pay extra attention during these drills.
- As I wrote in the pre-game post, it's difficult to assess the character of the team until they have dealt with a variety of challenges and situations. While it's still too early to make any generalizations about this team, how they respond in against Iona and the during the rest of the Puerto Rico Tipoff will be very telling. I understand this was not the circumstances we'd like to experience these types of challenges, but Purdue did gain valuable experience playing in a close game with little momentum or energy to draw from.
Last night's game was a gut check. How they respond against a tough Iona team will serve as a great indicator of what kind of team we will have.
Everyone has a plan ‘till they get punched in the mouth. (Yup, I just quoted Mike Tyson.)
Regardless of the win, Purdue season was punched in the mouth last night. Now let's see how they fight back.