I really don't care about the NCAA's new naming conventions. To me, the games in Dayton are merely play-in games to the real tournament, and it is still round 1 on Friday night in my eyes. If they didn't want teams to feel bad they wouldn't have started the farce of the play-in games in the first place. They should have the Great West Conference with an automatic bid, giving us 32 auto bids and 32 at large bids, eliminate any teams with a losing conference record from the at large pool (Goodbye, UConn), and you're set. The Thursday/Friday games are just like Indiana State is a 1-AA team in football, Bankers Life Fieldhouse is still Conseco, and Verizon Wireless Music Center is still Deer Creek.
On a related note: Get off my lawn!
I digress, however. This is still the most exciting time of year, and today really a day to get a breather after the basketball hangover caused from the Big Ten Tournament. Before looking at St. Mary's, here are some highlights from Indy:
- I finished a respectable 185th in the Big Ten Hoops Day 5K out of almost 1,800 runners.
- I was perplexed at how four random IU fratboys, one wearing a classy anti-Purdue T-shirt (and we're the obsessed one) while another had a trendy Ed Hardy and an "I'm important, look at my biceps" tattoo somehow got media passes on Saturday. A media associate also stated they reeked of whiskey, so you stay classy "IU media". I am not exactly the most professional, but at least the one day I wore a T-shirt it was for the website I run, and not some sophomoric rivalry shirt.
- The Michigan State-Ohio State game was an absolute slugfest and a pleasure to watch.
- Ohio State fans are just about as whiny as Jared Sullinger.
- Minnesota had by far the best band, as they cheered for Goldy to spin his head and they cheered on the guys sweeping the floor at halftime. It's too bad the team botched the end of regulation against Michigan.
- I am pretty sure another member of the press for Indiana took offense to my quiet fist pump and stormed off when Rob Wilson buried his final dagger three for Wisconsin. This was the same guy that haughtily proclaimed Indianapolis an IU town and chastised Purdue for not showing up and our fans don't travel well. Bear in mind, the attendance as both sessions on Thursday and Friday was virtually identical.
- Will Sheehey left Friday's game briefly with an injury that was pretty non-serious, and it was obvious he was going to eventually return, but you would have thought he rose from the dead with the ovation he got when he re-entered.
- Purdue SID Tom Schott is a ping-pong genius, as shown at the media party.
- Sadly, I failed once again in my now two-year quest to get my picture with Ed Hightower.
- The Big Ten Tournament was a blogging win, with bloggers from Purdue, Michigan, Wisconsin, Ohio State, Illinois, Indiana, and Penn State all there as credentialed media.
Now, on to St. Mary's. Let's do this in the regular preview style:
2010-11 Record: 25-9, 11-3 West Coast Conference
2011-12 Record: 27-5, 14-2 West Coast Conference (regular season and tournament champions)
Postseason Result: Lost 71-70 at home to Kent State in NIT First Round
Blog Representation: SMCGaels
Series with Purdue: First Meeting
Time & TV 7:27pm on TruTV
|Kenton Walker II||32||9.8||1.7||3.2||54.5||0.0||0.0||0.0||0.5||0.8||61.5||1.1||2.0||3.1||0.2||0.4||0.4||0.6||1.8||3.9|
In a quick onceover statistically I see that St. Mary's is a team with a bench similar to our own. They generally play between seven and nine guys, with a former Big Ten player coming off the bench at times. That's right, Northwestern finally made the NCAA tournament (sort of) in the form of Kyle Rowley, who is a junior 7-footer that has played in 24 games and averages a point in 4.4 minutes. In a 72-64 victory over Purdue in 2010 he scored four points in 13 minutes, then had two points in six minutes in the Big Ten Tournament loss to us. It's pretty safe to say he wasn't a huge factor, and he doesn't play enough to be considered too much of a threat.
Three players for the Gaels average in double figures, led by point guard Matthew Dellavadova. There is something about the WCC that produces dangerous point guards dating all the way back to John Stockton. Dellavadova has good size at 6'4" and has an international game since he hails form Australia. He's a dangerous shooter at 15.6 points per game and he hands out 6.4 assists per game. One of the most similar players we have faced is Iona's Scott Machado. Defensively, we need to focus on Dellavadova which is a concern since our defense sucked against Ohio State.
Rob Jones, a 6'6" senior, is their most effective post player. He averages a double-double of 14.8 points and 10.7 rebounds per game, but he is actually undersized when compared to Robbie Hummel, Travis Carroll, and Sandi Marcius. Can Tacos and the Chooch keep him off the glass? I hope so, especially since he gathers close to a third of their rebounds.
Stephen Holt, a 6'4" sophomore guard is their third double figures scorer at 10.4 per game. He's been out for five games, however, with an injury, starting with the 65-51 loss at Murray State in the Bracket Busters. His was a knee injury, and he is considered to be their top defender. He's been a "game-time decision" for some time, but my guess is that he will play if possible, especially since St. Mary's hasn't played in over a week by this game.
If Holt cannot go we are going to have an advantage at guard that we must press. Jorden Page at 8.1 ppg is a solid third guard, but there is not a lot of depth behind him. 6'9" post Brad Waldow averages 8.2 points in 18.7 minutes, but only grabs 4.7 rebounds. Clint Steindl and Mitchell are both forwards at 6'7" and 6'9", respectively, but not overwhelming ones. Kenton Walker II and Beau Levesque round out the regular rotation, both as forwards.
This really could become a contrast of styles game then. They have a wealth of forwards, but possibly only two guards in Dellavedova and Page. We might only have three true forwards in Tacos, the Chooch, and Jacob Lawson. Steindl can go outside and hit the three like Robbie Hummel, as he is 60 for 141 on the year and is their best shooter from long range.
I'd like to see Terone Johnson on Dellavedova and Lewis Jackson on Holt and/or Page. Whomever we put on Dellavedova needs to frustrate him, because that will gum up the St. Mary's offense. Coach Painter may throw multiple looks at him like he did with Stephan Curry and Davidson a few years ago. TJ, Anthony Johnson, LewJack, and Ryne Smith could all get a crack at him.
Page, Dellavedova, and Steindl are their main long-range threats, as each hits 33% or better outside. Rob Jones can also shoot from outside too, but only at 28% with over 100 attempts.
Overall, this is a team that shoots 35% from long range and 47.5% overall. They hit free throws well at 72.7%. they share the ball very well *14th overall in the country at 15.9 assists per game), and they are one of the best shooting teams at 27th overall. Much of that is owed to talent, and you cannot even knock their schedule. The WCC was a three-bid league this year, and St. Mary's played Murray State and Baylor outside of conference. They have a couple of "bad" losses to Denver (22-9) and Loyola Marymount (19-12), but those were still two respectable teams.
Keys To The Game:
- Defend, Defend, Defend! - Purdue is only going as far as its defense carries it. We must defend Dellavedova and not let him dominate.
- Rebound - Jones is an inside-out player that we need to keep off the glass.
- Watch Steindl - He is the most obvious BOMAFUWFWLOFST candidate.
- Win the perimeter game - We are deeper at guard and better, especially if Page does not play.
- Stop ball - The potential is there for them to shred us in the post, so we have to deny entry passes.
- Attack the rim - We should be quicker, so getting out in transition and attacking the rim with AJ, TJ, and LewJack is big
- Keep D.J. Byrd as a wild card - Byrd has relished his role of coming off the bench and providing a spark, so he needs to have a big game.