A few observations on the first 3 regular season games. The opener was at home against Ball State. Purdue's shooting from the floor was not good, but they went 17 for 17 from the free throw line, setting a record. We turned the ball over too often, which seems to be the norm, but then again we forced a lot of turnovers so we won the turnover battle. Courtney Moses did not score. Just one of those days, and Ball State was keying on her the whole time she was in the game. This created some openings for others, and KK Houser in particular lit it up and led the team to victory.
Our team defense was great, especially in the second half. In the first half, we played very sloppy, which is in part due to it being our first regular season game and we are working in a lot of players that didn't play much or at all last year. Shooting and passing were not very good, but defense and free throw shooting won the game for us.
The second game was away at IUPUI. They don't have the talent to match up with Purdue, but they did play a scrappy game. I just call it the Indianapolis style of basketball. I could only listen to the video feed so I didn't get a chance to watch. The referees called a ridiculous amount of fouls, in part because of the new rules. The NCAA wants more scoring, so referees are compelled to call all kinds of ticky-tack against the defender. Tim Newton, our long time faithful radio announcer, did however say that he felt that most of the fouls would have been called anyway given the physical nature of the game. Liza Clemons and Whitney Bays in particular really played hard. Once again, Houser went off for 20 points and led us to victory again. Moses scored 13 and her shots were starting to fall.
This past Sunday we played at Toledo. This is a team that won 29 games last year and is very difficult to beat on their home floor. Both sides shot well, but nobody could match what C-Mo did which was to put up 30 points, her all-time collegiate high scoring game. Once again Houser made some key shots but also made a lot of key defensive plays along with Dee Dee Williams and April Wilson. In an earlier post I characterized Williams as being a defensive specialist, which is technically true, but perhaps we should give her some credit for the Senior leadership she brings to the team, both on offense and defense. She came from Ben Davis High School, where her team beat Skylar Diggins' Washington team for the right to be called the number one team in the country. Williams also finished right behind C-Mo for Miss Indiana basketball. She brings a lot of game experience to our team, especially having played so much alongside Houser and C-Mo. Those three are already showing their Senior leadership in games. Whitney Bays played another outstanding game, and seems to be faring well physically. She will just continue to get better as the season progresses.
After a Friday game with Belmont, the schedule gets much more challenging. The game at Toledo in particular can only help our team get ready for games against Duke, Stanford, TCU, and other good teams, many of them on the road or at neutral sites. A concern may be back problems for Liza Clemons. Let's hope they don't linger and that she will be good to go. Her rebounding along with other aspects of her game are coming along well with the exception of the Toledo game. Also, Camille Redmon has given us some quality time in the post, getting 4 blocks in a very short amount of time against IUPUI. Torrie Thornton, Joslyn Massey, and Bridget Perry have provided some help in the post area as well. Our shooting wasn't so good the first two games, but at Toledo we shot extremely well. But then so did they, and we barely squeaked out the win. We will need to work on playing against zone defenses which we are going to see a lot of this year while playing guard-heavy lineups.
So far we have won with a formula of offense that is good enough, along with excellent defense and free throw shooting. Of course that is not enough for some tougher games we will be in. Shooting will have its ups and downs but overall we should be fine there. We showed against Toledo that we can shoot it very well, hitting over 50% of our shots as well as draining 10 three-pointers. Some good feeds into the post were crucial as well. I just wish I could watch more of the games the next couple of weeks. Most will be away and the best we will get is radio feeds via Purdue All-Access or on BOB-FM for those who can get it on FM radio. It is going to be a good season with a lot of exciting games. Probably a lot of games coming down to the wire, where the experience of our three senior guards will play a major role.