The margin for error for the Boilermakers to make the NCAA Tournament is razor after a solid game by Terone Johnson was wasted in Indianapolis. The Boilers fell to 8-3 on the season and, more importantly, 0-3 in chances to get anything close to a quality non-conference victory. Only a game at West Virginia in a few weeks can salvage anything out of the non-conference season, and that looks like a long proposition after Purdue's offense went completely stagnant after a solid start to both halves.
With 6:26 Ronnie Johnson missed the second of two free throws and Purdue trailed 57-53. Purdue wouldn't score again for four minutes, often turning the ball over before even getting to a shot. Kellen Dunham and Erik Fromm each hit huge three-pointers as Butler basically clinched the game with a 12-0 run.
That run was not really born of great Butler execution, either. It was born of terrible Purdue offense, which was the hallmark of the day except for a few brief moments. Purdue committed four critical turnovers in that 12-0 run and didn't exactly get great shots off when they did have a chance to execute.
It was a frustrating game because this was winnable. Butler had their own cold moments and aside from Dunham shooting the ball extremely well, they weren't able to run away with it until about six minutes remained. What hurt Purdue the most was hat Ronnie Johnson looked completely lost for most of the afternoon, yet was still playing big minutes at the end. He was hesitant to attack the basket while Bryson Scott at least made up his mind that he wanted to attack.
As we have seen, Purdue's motion offense is at its best when, get this, THERE IS MOTION. Instead, today they passed the ball around the perimeter without setting screens or they passed it in to Hammons for a turnaround. Hammons battled foul trouble and was tentative on the glass once again, which also did not help matters.
One thing I did notice is that the effort is much stronger with the young guys like Basil Smotherman and Scott. Some of the other guys lack the intensity needed in this program that the younger guys show. Rapheal Davis was hesitant as a scorer today, a first I have seen from him, and RJ looked very out of control.
Mostly what was shocking was how out of sync everyone looked. Against Boston College all 11scholarship players were on the same page and the offense was great. Today, it looked like 11 guys arrived in 11 different cabs and had never played a minute of basketball together before. On defense they gave up open looks. They didn't rebound well, and offensively they stood around waiting for someone to do something.
Purdue fought hard in the last minute and got a 12 point lead to four at 74-70, but that is even more frustrating when you think about it. Finally, they decided to play Purdue basketball for a minute when winning was virtually impossible, but when they had 39 minutes to really do something about the outcome they stood around, doing very little.
That is really the difference. Coach Painter is taking a lot of flack for this team, but effort has been a question for awhile. The Boston College game is a great example of what can happen when it is there. Today and the second half against Washington State are great examples of what happens when it is not. Ultimately, that is on the players because Painter can't go out and play for them. Someone needs to light a fire under this team for them to play well and so far we have not seen anyone capable of doing it.
It needs to happen soon. Big Ten season is just around the corner.