We’ve seen the script before. The offense is spotty at best. Carsen Edwards shows he is the best player on the floor, but his teammates are unable to do much more than watch for large stretches of the game. A team that relies on the three-pointer can’t buy one for long stretches. Defensively, there are good moments, but again, a poor shooting team lights us up on the perimeter and gets a ton of scramble points.
At least against Michigan, Virginia Tech, and Florida State they came against extremely talented teams. Today... today was honestly apathetic. When the season started we knew this would be a brutal stretch. Aside from the Robert Morris game we would have Virginia Tech-Florida State-Michigan-Maryland-Texas-Notre Dame all in a row. Only one game would be at Mackey Arena. It was critical to perform well and 3-3 was a reasonable expectation. This was a non-negotiable game. We needed it today. Aside from Trevion Williams in the final five minutes it looked like no one wanted it.
Purdue went 1-5 in those games, only winning at home against Maryland on a blocked three-pointer at the buzzer. Much of it was extremely frustrating too, as Texas, VaTech, and FSU were all extremely close.
After a sharp first three minutes led to a 10-4 lead it was like a switch flipped. Purdue couldn’t defend and couldn’t hit shots. Once Notre Dame got the lead in the 7-8 point range it felt like it was going to stay there. Over the next six minutes they opened up a 23-16 lead and Purdue did not get closer than four the rest of the way. Purdue stayed somewhat in it, as it only got to as much as 15, but when Purdue got stops it couldn’t convert on the offensive end to make a run.
Notre Dame entered shooting barely more than 31% from three. They were at 52.4% today and hit every big shot they needed to hit. They were just over 41% from the floor overall and were at 52% by the game’s end.
We know what this Purdue team is now. It is severely flawed, but can have good moments. It can trail by 15, but still make a bit of a run to get somewhat close and not get totally blown out. It has players that are complete offensive liabilities like Nojel Eastern and Eric Hunter being forced to play large minutes. It has a transcendent All-American in Carsen Edwards that would somehow be even better if he just had some help.
When things come together Purdue can do well. We’ve seen it in stretches agaisnt Virginia Tech, at Florida State, and at other times. It can come damn close to beating a top 10 team on the road like FSU if not for some missed FTs and turnovers. When it is off, however, it can be a complete mess where nothing gets done offensively.
We’re here for a combination of reasons. Painter had several misses in recruiting. We have multiple young guys. We have players that are slumping like Matt Haarms and Ryan Cline. It is an obvious step back after the last few seasons with what we lost.
Still, I never expected it to be this bad. After a week off I really thought we would put things together, but for most of hte day we all looked apathetic. And yes, it is definitely time to question Matt Painter. He built this lineup. He missed on the players we needed to replace what we lost when we had PT to sell. He has had the strange rotations. It is looking more and more like this is a lost season, and that is pathetic when you consider what was built the previous years. The last few seasons should have been a springboard to more, but there were recruiting misses and we’re seeing the result. We’re a program that should make the NCAA Tournament at minimum each season. Right now, barring a crazy run through the Big Ten, we will not make it after going 0-4 in four marquee non-conference games.
We’re good enough to spring an upset or two and Carsen is Carsen, but the lack of consistency means we’re not going to string the wins together to make a push. That is pretty clear from these first 11 games when we’re close to 9-2, but we’re 6-5 because of that lack of consistency. With 20 games left we can expect more of the same.
We look like a lost program right now, and it is up to Painter and the players to find themselves.