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The Path of Least Resistance Fails Purdue

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Purdue took the path least resistance and fell into the Izzo trap

Purdue v Michigan State Photo by Rey Del Rio/Getty Images

Disclaimer:

The following is not an indictment of Matt Painter or Isaac Haas. I think Matt is one of the best coaches in college basketball, and should be the coach at Purdue for as long as he wants to be the coach at Purdue.

I think Haas is one of the true dominant forces in college basketball and I would take him on my team 10/10 times. He did exactly what was expected of him in the MSU game. I just think too much was expected of him.

The first half of the game last night was perfect. Purdue was moving the ball, feeding the post, hitting 3’s, letting Carsen work with the high screen and playing solid defense.

Purdue once again failed to finish the half strong, letting MSU shrink a 10 point lead to 5 in the last 2 minutes, but still, I’ll take a 5 point lead over MSU at MSU any day of the week.

When interviewed at half time, Tom Izzo clearly laid out the Spartans game plan for the second half.

No 3 pointers. Izzo was going to let Purdue try and beat them inside the arc, and that meant he was going to single cover Haas, and stick to shooters.

It worked to perfection.

MSU outscored Purdue 37-29 in the second half, Purdue hit 0 3 pointers, and the Spartans knocked off the Boilermakers on a last second Miles Bridges 3.

Izzo laid out the terms of the 2nd half play. Purdue agreed to the terms dictated, and MSU was the better team in that particular style of play.

MSU took Purdue out of their motion offense and turned them into a strictly post ISO team.

I call this running the Haasfence, and I hate it with a burning hot passion.

I understand the allure of the Haasfence, I really do.

As long as you get the ball into the post you’re guaranteed a decent shot with little risk of turning the ball over. It’s an extremely easy, risk adverse offense.

Here is an example of the Haasfence from an out of bounds set:

Haas sets a screen at the elbow for Cline. Haas moves to the opposite low block. Cline feeds Haas. Haas goes 1 on 1 with Shilling. Everyone else stands around and watches, other than Vincent who sneaks down to the baseline hoping for a chance at an offensive rebound.

There is no movement, and no real stress placed on the MSU defense.

1 player defends while 4 players stand around and watch. Playing defense against Purdue should be exhausting because Purdue can stress a defense 1-5. If you don’t stay connected to your man, or lose focus for a moment, Purdue will punish you

Here is an example of the Haasfence in the full court:

PJ walks the ball up, Dakota pops out to the wing and receives the pass from PJ, Haas posts up, Dakota passes to Haas. Everyone clears out other than Vincent, who sneaks down to the baseline for a potential rebound. Haas goes 1 on 1 and ends up with an 8 foot left handed hook shot.

Again, the only stress placed on the MSU defense was on the Haas defender.

The rest of the Spartans stood around with the Purdue players and watched.

It wasn’t team basketball, it wasn’t the motion offense.

It was basic post iso, 1 v 1, and it’s not what Purdue does best.

Tom Izzo will take an 8 foot, left handed hook shot with no ball movement 10 out of 10 times.

I don’t have a problem with going to the Haasfence on occasion. It’s an easy to match up to exploit, and you’re going to get a shot off, but to run it as the only offense, in my opinion, is folly and an insult to the other 4 players on the floor, who turn into skilled and experienced spectators.

I’m not sure this group of seniors spent all that time in the gym working on their game in order to watch Haas go 1 on 1 the entire second half of the most important game of the season, and that’s just what happened.

1st half stats:

Attempts in the paint: 10

Attempts outside the paint: 21

Baskets in the paint: 7

Baskets outside the paint: 7

3 Pointers: 6

Haas Attempts: 6 (3/7)

Haas TO: 0

Points Scored: 36

2nd half stats:

Attempts in the paint: 19

Attempts outside the paint: 6

Baskets in the paint: 9

Baskets outside the paint 1

3 Pointers: 0

Haas Attempts: 14 (9/14)

Haas TO: 2

Points Scored: 29

As you can see, Izzo got his way in the 2nd half and won the game. Purdue played Izzo’s game and lost.

Izzo’s game plan in the second half was to play behind Haas, allow the entry pass, and then have the defender stand behind him and not foul. Nick Ward was too aggressive on defense, so Izzo sat him and played Goins and Shilling, because they followed the game plan.

Moving Forward:

Purdue, at least in my opinion, is not going to ride the Isaac Haas left handed hook shots to a Final 4.

We’ve seen this offense with A.J. Hammons, Biggie, and now Haas, and it isn’t dynamic enough to carry Purdue past the Sweet 16.

Eventually your post player has a bad game, or runs into a legit post defender, and Purdue runs out of options...at least that was the case in the past.

This year, Purdue has scoring options 1-5.

Purdue can run the motion offense, and absolutely wear teams out on defense. You want shots coming up short in the last minutes, make a team defend everyone for 40 minutes.

Miles Bridges looked plenty fresh on that deep 3 because he didn’t have to play defense for most of the 2nd half.

Yes, we need to exploit the Haas match up, but not to the exclusion of everyone else.

Purdue has too much talent around Haas, and honestly, Haas isn’t the type of player that can carry a team to a national championship on his own.

He’s a good player, but he’s just not that guy, and I don’t think it’s fair for Purdue to ask him to be that guy.

It’s easy to just let Haas go 1 on 1, especially when the other team is begging us to let Haas go 1 on 1, but just because it’s easy, doesn’t mean it’s in our best interest as a team.

I, for one, love Isaac Haas as part of the offense and hate Issac Haas as The offense.

Let’s get back to being a threat 1-5 and playing Purdue basketball.