There's an inherit problem with any sort of scrimmage game. It has nothing to do with the games not being real or meaning anything. It has nothing to do with the intensity of the players.
The problem is that every good play is also a bad play. When it's Boiler on Boiler, a basket made is a basket allowed. Do you give the credit to good defense or blame the offense for a bad possession? Do you applaud the shooter or curse the defender for not being there? Was Hammons loafing and disengaged, or are Swanigan and Haas that much of a problem in the post for anyone?
As with most things, it's probably a bit of both. Hammons was disengaged for most of the day - as a fourth year senior he's probably allowed - and Haas and Swanigan are huge humans with an unusual amount of skill and a whole lot of aggression.
But we already knew most of that. Onto some video:
Ryan Cline is for real. The true freshman brought the relatively empty Mackey to its loudest moments when he hit five straight threes including this one in semi-transition. He's not going to red shirt.
Defensively he was not great.
He does an alright job missing the initial screen, but then fails to stop Kendall's half-hearted drive to the hoop resulting in a shooting foul. He'll be someone opposing teams target, but with a bevy of perimeter defenders on our team and great rim protection behind him we should be able to hide him on defense because on offense, man is he fun.
His shooting reputation is intact after an impressive second showing, but he was also a decisive passer. He didn't let the ball stick in his hands and made a couple nice entry passes. He seems like a smart player which, like we saw with Mathias, can make up for athletic limitations. His shot selection is somewhere between Kendall's shoot, shoot, shoot approach and Mathias's only when I'm wide, wide, wide open approach, which is just about perfect.
As for Kendall, his overall numbers were pretty good. Kendall Stephens was 7 of 13 from deep for 21 points, but some of those misses were ugly.
And this one...
It's disappointing to see him taking the exact same shots that put him on the bench last year, and the shots that's limited him from being the type of player his talent alludes to. Though, a small aside, as a shooter you have to come off every screen like you are going to take the shot. It's impossible to be a great shooter without taking some bad shots. You might anticipate incorrectly that your defender got held up a little more on a screen, or you simply think you're going to make the shot anyway. Shooting is about muscle memory, balance, and confidence.
And Kendall showed us that great shooter side of him, too.
You definitely can't just leave him alone like he was there.
The truth is, even if Kendall doesn't improve his shot selection, he's still capable of winning games like we saw at Penn State.
Poor P. J. gets switched onto Dakota here in the post, and Dakota takes advantage of it with a nice turnaround. For the most part, Dakota let the offense run through everyone else. Most his points came at the free throw line - free throws rewarded to him late in the scrimmages with his team up. He played point exclusively and brought the ball up the court and was pressed for most the scrimmages by P. J. and Grant. He was never spectacular, but 7 assists to 0 turnovers is quite a bit of water on the 'he can't play point' camp that I found myself in with some of you. His handle is solid and his bigger body did well blocking off smaller defenders.
When Purdue did press, he didn't look great. He didn't turn over the ball, but that was more out of the luck of the bounce than smart decision making. He threw a couple passes high and far that almost resulted in steals.
And when Purdue zoned on defense - which they did quite a bit - he failed to penetrate into the defense despite the urging of Coach Painter. It's nice to have Dakota out there on the court at all times, and he's a serviceable point guard in terms of passing in the half court and protecting the ball, but the limitations are real.
Biggie is the real deal. Man, does he ball. He went after Hammons, Haas, and every rebound like it was a tournament game. He is full go all the time. His arms are long, his body is wide, and he is aggressive. He beasted Haas and Hammons most of the game, drawing fouls, grabbing offensive rebounds, and finishing with a soft touch. He gets low and uses his strength to get to the rim and then has a nice patience at the rim to avoid even Haas' long arms. Hammons could not keep Swanigan away from his spots and was whistled frequently for having to foul before Swanigan even had a chance to get the ball
And yet, Swanigan was only the second most impressive Boilermaker on Saturday.
Mr. Edwards was everywhere. He scored 25, grabbed 10 rebounds, and assisted on six baskets. His shot is quicker. He's quicker. He looked like a blur running around the court, grabbing offensive rebound after offensive rebound. He hit 3 of his 5 three point shots and did a nice job getting in the lane for a Purdue team desperate for it. He's' our Mr. Everything and someone who will be answering NBA questions next summer.
And while Cline might have brought the loudest cheer, Edwards took down the house.
A few last thoughts:
Grant Weatherford will and should redshirt. It's nothing personal and certainly not official, but he just didn't seem to be on the same level as the rest of the Boilers that played minus Eifert. He struggled to be in the right place at walk throughs and his defense was not enough to make a difference in the scrimmage. He'll be a useful player for us, but there's no room for him on this team. Save his eligibility.
Jacquil Taylor did not get much run, and didn't do much with it when he did. He looks impressive physically, but he failed to show up much against more polished bigs. He missed badly on a baseline drive when he had the hoop right in his face. He's probably a year away from cracking the rotation in any meaningful way.
Rapheal Davis's jump shot looked improved as well and he knows it. He started the scrimmage off by hitting two quick threes. He was also our best player at getting to the basket. P. J. Thompson wasn't that far behind though, and he finished well for someone who barely reaches Haas belly button.
On one of Swanigan's first post possessions, he received the ball, made a hard spin move to the middle and was met by a double team. He rose up in the air, turned slightly and found the open perimeter man. It was a small, seemingly insignificant play, but it's passes like that that Haas and Hammons have struggled to make that Swanigan is a natural at. If we can harness and grow on plays like that, we will have an offense that's going to give defenses fits. We are going to excel at the two best looks in basketball: open threes and shots at the rim.
Even our non-shooters seem to be able to shoot - some. Basil Smotherman seemed to have the green light to fire away from deep. His shot does not look bad, but he himself didn't quite look right. He went down early on an attempt at his patented pick six that resulted in him almost taking out Thompson's knee. Basil came off the court hobbling before returning not long after. He's not going to get as much run as he probably deserves, but I'm not in favor of him redshirting, not because of what he could do in one game but because you can't have enough long, athletic wings who can harass on defense and not get in the way on offense. Not in the Big Ten and not in the tournament. He's a smart cutter, and tends to be open a lot - whether by indifference of position can be argued - but the biggest reason I don't want to sit him is because this year could be really special. Purdue absolutely has national championship potential.
No, it's not likely. It never is. There's a lot of games between now and March, but the pieces are there. You don't put those pieces to the side to hedge your bets on next year, you go all-in when you have a chance for something special. He can get his minutes next year when we lose Hammons and maybe Swanigan and Edwards.
For now? All hands on deck and Boiler up.