Guess it Wasn't Just Biggie
Coming into the Minnesota game, Caleb Swanigan led the team comfortably in turnovers with 63 for the year - 22 more than A. J. Hammons. So, with news that his ankle injury would keep him out of the game, I thought there was a chance this could be a damning game for him. Instead, the Boilers looked sloppy and discombobulated, turning the ball over 14 times and only shooting 42% from the floor. Combine that with Stephen's absence and the Barn's mystical bad mojo, and the Boilers faded into a near loss late in the game.
The real damning part about the game doesn't really have anything to do with Swanigan's play itself, but the fact that Vince Edwards at the 4 is our best player and our best lineup. He unleashed hell on Minnesota, hustling for offensive rebounds, moving the ball, and knocking down outside shots. He was about the only bright spot in a very disappointing game. So while Swanigan isn't the problem, the tough truth is that every minute he plays at the 4 is a minute that Edwards isn't playing the four.
Vince is averaging 17.2 points per game, 7.2 rebounds per game, 2.2 assists per game in the last 5 games, and has been our best wing defender this year. He's played 33 and 39 minutes the last two game, a trend you can expect to continue. He's a swiss army knife on offense and defense. Biggie's problems have been both troubling and expected, but his minutes might keep going down just because Purdue can't afford to put Edwards to the bench.
Purdue has a GLARING deficiency.
Swanigan is certainly a part of this, but so is most of the team. What Octeus brought the Boilers last year was a combination of penetration and shooting, but what they really miss is his awareness. His subtle ability to probe and pull a defense, get them off-balance, and then get to a spot where he could take advantage of it with a drive or pass. Purdue's problems with turnovers and shot selection are almost exclusively a symptom of their lack of court awareness. There's a lot of ways it's showing up, and a lot of guilty parties.
Our big men have been pretty bad in the post the last few games, turning the ball over, and rushing shots. Haas and Hammons put themselves in bad situations by bringing the ball down, being too predictable with their timing, and not realizing where and when the help will be coming. They force themselves into shuffling their feet or having to over pivot to try and clear space.
Dakota Mathias has really struggled deciding when to attack and when to shoot, same with Davis. There's a sixth sense to basketball, a kind of peripheral awareness that allows you to feel when the court is shifted in your advantage. With Mathias, it manifests in him pump-faking open 3's and then driving into a more cluttered paint, not his strength, and getting caught too deep in the paint where he's not a threat to finish and has limited windows to get the ball back out. He's a shooter and he needs to let it fly.
As for Davis, he just looks off. His jumper looks rushed. His first step is just gone. He attempts to blow by his defender to find his face in his man's chest, and he's never had the kind of handle that helps him create angles or space. Instead, he finds himself off balance and losing the ball to pretty ordinary swipes at the ball.
Both players have failed to make that extra swing pass when the defense has over loaded one side of the court. It bogs down the paint and allows defenders to keep an extra step towards our big men in the post, making their life hell because the defenders don't have to worry about getting beat back side or by ball reversals or drives.
If anyone, Ryan Cline might show the most potential at this. Again Iowa, there was a play where he caught a swing pass, and sensed an opening down the middle of the court and just exploited it. It ended up in a missed lefty lay-up, but it was at least the right aggressive play that eventually opens up the defense.
99 problems, a point guard kinda isn't one.
Hill still can't shoot and turns the ball over too much, Thompson is still mostly a game manager unable to cut into the defense and create shots for his teammates, but they're Purdue's best two perimeter defenders at this point of the season with Davis still not right from that knee injury. Painter has gone to them in late game situations a couple times in the last few games now to close out the game. Thompson's offering just enough shooting to salvage spacing with Edwards, and the Boilers just can't afford Mathias and Cline to be targeted off the dribble late in games. If Purdue's defense continues to struggle containing guards, expect to see more and more of this.
Okay, a couple less life and death ones to finish up:
Take Off Your Shorts
The more the season goes along, the more I hate these shorts with the two mis-aligned rectangles of gold. The give the impression that our shorts are just twisted around weirdly. They're just not a clean look, and the blocks are so thick and unpleasing to the eye. They just look sloppy and clunky. Boo.
Waiting for the Other Foot To Drop
So have we all had our fun with the Shoebound? Good. Because that was one of the dumbest plays I've ever seen. You know why that rebound was incredible? Cause it's really hard to get a rebound with only one hand. So you know what Hammons should have done? Not picked up his damn shoe. If he doesn't get that rebound, and that ball just bounces off his one hand, maybe the dialogue is different but the result shouldn't matter. It was a dumb, dumb, dumb play. You leave the shoe and wait for a stop of play to go get, you don't play with one shoe AND decide you should only have one arm, too.