After we crapped ourselves on national television against Ohio State the last time out no one felt good. That loss may not have been as bad as Ron Burgundy telling San Diego to go f*** themselves, but we were all pretty upset. The loss itself wasn't bad. The frustrating aspect was that Purdue played a very un-Purdue-like game. We were horribly undisciplined on defense, something that only happens about once every five years for us. We also turned the ball over a lot early. When you combine those two things against a great team like Ohio State it is no wonder things got out of hand so quickly.
Now we have a chance at redemption. The Buckeyes have fallen into the bear pit that Mackey Arena. Our Boilermakers have played like a different team at home and are in the midst of a good week. I will even be in attendance, as a reader was kind enough to offer a free ticket to me that would otherwise go unused. A win tomorrow would likely secure us at least a top 3 seed and a spot in Chicago unless we totally fall apart in the last four games. It also makes the Big Ten a race again.
2009-10 Record: 29-8, 14-4 Big Ten (Big Ten co-champions, Big Ten Tournament Champions)
2010-11 Record: 25-1, 12-1 Big Ten
Postseason Result: Lost 76-73 to Tennessee in Sweet 16
Series with Purdue: Series tied 82-82
Last Purdue win: 2/17/2010 at Ohio State 60-57
Last Ohio State win: 1/25/2011 at Ohio State 87-64
Time & TV 1pm CBS
|Lenzelle Smith Jr||14||5.2||0.4||1.1||40.0||0.0||0.4||0.0||0.0||0.0||0.0||0.5||0.4||0.9||0.6||0.5||0.3||0.0||0.3||0.9|
If we're going to reach the Final Four we have to be able to beat a team like Ohio State. We're going to have to beat a team better than us because we cannot duck them forever. Unfortuantely, we really sucked in game one. That is the only logical explanation for Purdue suffering its worst loss of the the JJ/Smooge/Robbie era. I can take being beaten by a superior team. I can't take getting blown out because we fundamentally were never really in the game.
Everything that could go wrong in game one did. We double teamed Jared Sullinger (and we rarely double team anyone). We left shooters open and William Buford and Jon Diebler did what excellent shooters do with good looks and buried us from long range. We even got a taste of our own medicine as Aaron Craft channeled Chris Kramer in terms of being the annoying scrappy guard that we love when he's on our team and despise when he's not.
So what can we do the second time around? Well, it begins with better perimeter defense. We have to stop with the double teaming of Sullinger and trust that JaJuan Johnson and maybe even Travis Carroll can limit him defensively. I rally don't care if Sullinger scores 50 as long as we don't get beat by perimeter shooters again. We have to get out on Diebler, Buford, craft, and David Lighty. We cannot allow them to rotate the ball at will like we did the first time around.
Personally, I think JJ can hold his own against Sullinger. I worry what Dallas Lauderdale can do as second forward that is there to rebound and dunk, especially on the offensive glass, but I'll take my chances with him since he has a limited skill set. Carroll can hold his own. He played 16 minutes the last time with just one foul.
Offensively we have to shoot better. That's all. JJ and E`Twaun Moore were themselves, but even Smooge had a bad night percentage-wise by only going 4 of 13. The rest of the team was was only 11 of 33 though, and that won't win a lot of ballgames. Lewis Jackson only had five points, while Terone Johnson had a solid game with nine points.
This is undoubtedly going to be a very difficult game. It is not impossible though. Ohio State practically clinches the Big Ten with a victory, as they would hold a three game lead with the tiebreaker over us and only four to play. They have a lot going on that, while we can make the final two weeks a lot more interesting with a victory. This game will show us a lot about Matt Painter's coaching ability. You have to think that he won't allow that type of butt-whipping again, especially at home. He knows his team did not play like itself in that game, and I am sure they remembered it in practice for the next few days.
This will take everything we have in order to get a victory. We're not going to win with heroic individual efforts. Instead we must play like a team that is better than the sum of its parts. It begins defensively, and that is where we can get things going in our direction. We have no change without improved perimeter defense, and if we get it I really like our chances.