I am tempted to recycle one of many previous game wraps from earlier this year. Purdue's offense struggled, they looked confused at time on defense, and generally, Purdue looked completely outclassed in every aspect of the game. Even the not-so-secret weapon of A.J. Hammons struggled to get going tonight. On a night when Robbie Hummel was honored, Darrell Hazell was in the house, and the baseball team was being honored for its best season ever the basketball team did its usual: It was competitive for about two media timeouts, gradually fell behind by double digits, then could never generate enough momentum to get back into it.
Reader SoCal Boiler said it best in the comments: It seemed like a huge struggle for Purdue to move the lead from 15 to 10 in the second half, but a blink would move the lead back to 15 for the Spartans. If you replace Spartans with Wildcats, or Hoosiers, or Wolverines, or Buckeyes you explain most of Purdue's struggles in Big Ten play.
While Terone Johnson returned offensively, at least in the first half, D.J. Byrd could have been replaced by me and the result would not have been changed. The supposed senior leader of this team contributed four fouls, three turnovers, and a rebound in the first 35 minutes of the game. That's one positive play and seven negative ones. He didn't even attempt a shot. He shot once int he game, a wild 25-footer, then fouled out. Neal Beshears, Stephen Toyra, or Coach Painter himself if he still had eligibility would have done more.
As Purdue's lone semi-consistent three-point threat he couldn't even find room for one three-point attempt? This is the guy unafraid to shoot 25-footers, but tonight he might as well have been replaced by a cardboard cutout or a 33-year-old blogger with bad feet that got cut from his high school team. Even I would find a way to at least shoot more than once.
That's even before you touch on the free throw issue, which was abysmal as always. Combined with our woes fromt eh field I am an advocate of locking every single player that returns next year in the practice facility from June until the end of August. Just have a slot to drop food and water in. They need to work on shooting and free throws that much.
It is sad that Purdue has really regressed. After looking really good as a complete team against West Virginia and playing well for about 30 minutes at Michigan the bottom has fallen out. We barely scraped past Iowa, got annihilated by Indiana, embarrassed by Northwestern, beat Penn State because they're awful, and got easily beaten by Michigan State at home. For five games now, since things went south in the Michigan game, Purdue has not only looked bad, but the effort that was there in so many previous games has been lacking.
It's alarming because this team looked like it was at least growing and trying in that West Virginia game and in the first half against Michigan. Since then, Purdue looks totally different.
That is an alarming trend that I do not envy the coaching staff and their task of figuring out how to fix it for.
- If you're really pissed off about what Branden Dawson did the last time you don't let him run rampant for 20 virtually unchallenged points.
- If you're a senior leader you shoot more than once per game.
- If the Johnson brothers finally show up together offensively it is not a sign for everyone else to take the night off.
- If you're a Purdue basketball player you take it as a personal affront that you defensively allowed another team to shoot better than 50% from the field.
It's a tough time. Purdue does not look good and is showing no interest in playing as a team or improving. The last seven games plus a weekend in Chicago is going to be a struggle.
I want to end on a positive note, however. At least we didn't help Indiana stay in first place alone in the Big Ten.