Sup y’all. I’ve decided to fight my overwhelming urge to shirk my responsibilities and accomplish the bare minimum and instead agreed to pick up a new column for the rest of the basketball season. I’ll be taking a deep dive into the previous Purdue game. It’s just my luck that I’m starting this out with the Penn State game, which is a deep dive into a poorly maintained septic tank.
Upon further review, the Penn State game was turds all the way down.
The Nittany Lions are good at basketball, and I’m having a hard time coming to terms with that fact. They came into the Purdue game on a 6 game heater and were unfazed by the Purdue crowd and the extremely polite non-booing Pain Crew (who said that?...who booed?...to the UPPER BOWL OF SORROW WITH YOU).
I tried to word this several different ways in an effort to not insult Penn State, because they legit whipped our tail, but on further consideration, I don’t care about Penn State or their feelings. The long and short of it is that Penn State isn’t as good as the team that beat Purdue on Wednesday. That’s not really an insult, because I said the same thing about Purdue’s win over Iowa. Purdue is good, but they’re not blow-Iowa-out-of-the-gym good. Penn State is good, but they’re not blow-Purdue-out-of-the-gym good (although technically they didn’t blow us out of the gym, it just felt like they did).
Here’s how it went down.
Penn State Offense - Death...3 Points At a Time
In retrospect, Purdue should have saved everyone the frustration and walked off the court after Penn State’s first 3 pointer...on the first possession. It was a harbinger of terrible things to come for the Boilermakers. The Nittany Lions not only found an open 3, they buried an open 3.
Let’s break this turd down into its composite parts.
Purdue got killed on the weak side of the court all game, so why not start with an example of Purdue getting gutted on the weak side on the first possession of the game.
Things look OK right now, but the Boilermakers are faced with a big problem. They don’t trust Evan Boudreaux to stay in front of Penn State star forward Lamar Stevens.
Sasha is matched up with non-shooter Jamari Wheeler at the top, and Eric Hunter is matched up with decent 3 point shooter Seth Lundy on the baseline. If you’re going by the scouting report, neither of these guys scare you from deep, but Stevens on Boudreaux is terrifying.
Subsequently, Sasha has one foot in the paint and is ready to help E-Bo as soon as Stevens makes his move. If you’re going off the scouting report, this is all fine and good.
Stevens attacks E-Bo off the dribble and heads straight to the middle of the free throw line. The thing is, E-Bo is in solid position. Stevens isn’t going anywhere, but Sasha is aware of the match up, and as soon as Stevens threatens E-Bo on the drive, he pinches down to cut off the driving lane (that E-Bo already has cut off).
On the back side, Wheeler tries to set a down screen on Hunter with Lundy popping out to the top right of the key for a 3 point look if Stevens gets cut off on the drive. This is basic back side motion that Purdue has defended thousands of times this year.
Wheeler’s efforts are for naught, because Hunter doesn’t fight through the screen, instead he switches with Sasha, who now has Lundy at the top. Sasha, unfortunately, has 2 feet in the paint helping on the Stevens drive, leaving Lundy wide open and easily accessible to Stevens.
If you’re having trouble figuring out who was at the top of the Penn State game plan for Purdue. I present this still frame to help guide you towards the correct answer.
3 Purdue defenders are within a step of Stevens. That leaves 2 Penn State players open at the top of the key. Lundy has a wide open catch and shoot opportunity. The offense has done its job. Lundy has the open shot, now it’s just miss or make for Penn State.
As we all know, it’s a make. The first of 6.
To put that in perspective, Lundy was 2-12 in long distance shooting over the last 5 games. He has never hit more than 3 in a game all season and has never taken more than 6.
Against Purdue he went 6 of 9.
Yes, the offense worked to get Lundy an open shot on this possession, but I don’t think it’s a shot Purdue was particularly worried about beating them this game. That didn’t quite go as planned.
Sasha helped when he didn’t need to help, but Stevens was the guy they were geared up to stop. I wouldn’t call it terrible defense, but it certainly could have been better.
What was frustrating about this game is Purdue never adjusted to the fact that Lundy had left his body and was simultaneously transcending time and space while playing basketball. When a player shows you they’re hot, believe them.
Purdue didn’t believe Lundy, and it cost them the game.
Purdue Offense - Got To Make Your Layups
This wasn’t a horrible offensive performance by Purdue. If the Boilermakers make it to 76 points at home it’s usually a win. Tre put up 17, Proctor and Thompson both had 15, and Hunter had 14. Hell, even Nojel chipped in with 8, including a couple confident looking jumpers. Unfortunately for Purdue, Penn State was in some sort of 3 point fugue state and was tossing in 3 pointers like a vintage Golden State Warriors team.
Purdue needed every point it could muster, but per usual, they left couldn’t find the range from 2 feet.
I don’t want to pick on Nojel, because overall I felt like he played a solid game. the fact that he’s driving to the hoop and taking shots makes me happy, but this clip exemplifies that night for Purdue.
Nojel had a solid look and missed, followed by a double Haarms miss on the rebound. Purdue had 3 chances inside 3 feet and came away with 0 points.
Not much to say. Nojel got to the rim, but Watkins bothered the shot with his long arms and 7’3 Matt Haarms couldn’t convert 2 put back attempts over 6’6 Seth Lundy. You’re not going to beat a team as hot as Penn State missing 2 footers.
Game Summary in a 20 Second Clip
It’s rare to come across one 20 second segment that tells the entire story of the game, but this one gets close.
Purdue is down 14 with a chance to cut it to 11 with a Sasha transition 3.
Sasha gets a good look but misses (and gets fouled on the follow through, but such is life).
Penn State heads down the court, Purdue doubles Stevens, he kicks it out to 31% 3 point shooter Myles Dread and Dread buries an open 3. He hit 4 out of his 5 shots for 3. Dread has managed to knock down 4 in one other game this season. It took him 10 attempts.
At some point, basketball is a game of makes and misses.
Penn State made 14 3’s.
Purdue made 4.
Sometimes it’s just that simple.
The Boilermakers get a chance at redemption tomorrow in Columbus. Let’s hope Ohio State misses and Purdue makes.