This ‘Key Rewind’ will be a bit different given the context of the exhibition game against Grace College but let’s go back and see what we learned from those broad strokes we painted with ahead of the game against the Lancers.
1 | How Well Does Zach Edey Defend Smaller/Quicker Players
Not a lot was learned from this against Grace College but the Lancers did feature a big man who was confident to step outside and shoot from behind the arc. He was not, however, confident to go up against Edey in the post at all. He also didn’t really get challenged much at all in the high pick and roll game as Grace just doesn’t do that much at all in their offensive concepts. Grace did a great job at using back door cuts on the wing to get buckets at the rim when Edey and other bigs were pulled away from the lane because of the threat of outside shooting, however.
Zach did a good job in drop coverage when he had to and seemed to really dissuade any attempt at getting into the lane, which is something he will be asked to do in season against tougher opponents. Purdue wants opponents to take contested 10-15 foot jump shots which are statistically the lowest percentage of shots. With Edey in that drop coverage, he need to block off access to the lane while the on ball defender has to fight over the top of that ball screen to prevent an easy pull up three point attempt. This is why Edey’s improvement in regards to on ball defense against smaller/quicker players may actually be the improvement of the perimeter players in their own on ball defense.
2 | Taking Shots Within the Offensive Flow to Limit Runouts & Transition Opportunities
It looked like Purdue was rather comfortable in their offense early on in the season and that may have more to do with their Europe trip and the exhibition game against Arkansas more than Grace College just being overwhelmed. Purdue ran their sets and didn’t seem to take a whole lot of jumpers out of the flow of the offensive concepts. Even the young guys like Colvin and Heide didn’t seem to get flustered and try to take shots that were ill-timed or ill-conceived. This will be one of the biggest things Purdue can use to control the flow of the game against teams that are just more athletically gifted than they are.
When Purdue takes good shots within their offensive concept, they also don’t put themselves in poor defensive position in transition and allow themselves to rotate back into where they need to be to prevent easy buckets from the opponent. When Purdue is able to get set in the defensive half of the court, it prevents guys like Edey having to make plays that can lead to silly fouls. When Purdue can grind out a team who is missing contested jumpers while they are getting consistently open looks because of Edey’s pull inside, it is incredibly demoralizing to an opponent.
3 | Simply Put, Purdue Needs to Shoot Better from Three
Purdue shot the ball pretty well from the outside and those ones they missed did look good within the frame of the offense. Did some shots get taken too quickly once the game was really, really out of hand? Of course and that is naturally going to happen in those situations as the guys who are going to get a majority of minutes this season (Smith, Loyer, Jones, TKR, Edey) went to the bench for the better part of twenty or more minutes for this game.
For the game Purdue did only shoot 8-27 but when you take out bench players and guys that likely won’t shoot much volume throughout the season (Edey included), Purdue went 8-22 for 36%. This includes Colvin’s 0-4 in which all of them looked good and within the offense. Those shots are going to start going down at a high rate and don’t be surprised if he shoots 35% or higher for the season on probably two or three attempts per game.
Purdue can be a team that shoots 35% overall from behind the arc but up until they start proving on a night to night basis, there are going to be a lot of naysayers amongst the fanbase. Purdue did have eighteen games last season where they shot 35% of better from behind the arc but also had thirteen games where they shot 29% or worse. The worst of the worst was five games of 19% or below against Austin Peay (10.5%), Davidson (12%), both Maryland games (15.4%), and FDU (19%).
If you were to take those 5 games out of Purdue’s season totals from last year, Purdue would have been a 35% (34.7% to be exact) shooting team from behind the arc, a 2.5% increase overall. Purdue ranked 277th last year as a team shooting the 3 but raising it up to that 34.7% moves them to 136th. The key this season is just not having games where the bottom drops out because those five games represent 2 of Purdue’s 6 losses on the season (and two more come if we raise it just to 22%-@ Northwestern and Indiana).