Well, that was certainly a lot more interesting than what it appeared would happen with 6 minutes left when Purdue held a 60-43 point lead before Penn State went on a 22-7 run to end up losing by only two. Zach Edey had another stellar day going for 30 points and 13 rebounds while David Jenkins, Jr. scored 11 and Mason Gillis chipped in 10. Jalen Pickett was limited to just 11 points on 4-13 shooting overall but struggled to contain Myles Dread and Seth Lundy late from behind the arc as they combined to shoot 6-9.
Let’s get into the matchups and see where Purdue did well and where they struggled!
1 | Brandon Newman vs. Jalen Pickett
This is probably the biggest factor that allowed Purdue to build a 17 point lead before a late game struggle to close as Purdue’s focus on Pickett seemed to allow Seth Lundy to get loose and score 19 points and grab 9 rebounds while Camren Wynter was also able to play very well and shot 5-7 from the field to get 14 points. If not for those two, especially late in the game, Purdue could have walked to a possible 20 points win.
2 | Zach Edey vs. Penn State’s Double Teams
Well, I think Edey has started to prove he can really make teams pay for doubling him in the post. Multiple times in the title game Edey scored through double and even triple teams by just being patient in the post. He often times passed out of the post and was able to eventually get a repost or he started to just turn and shot over the double team. That ability helped Edey secure the tourney’s most valuable player and score 30 points and grab 13 rebounds.
3 | Penn State Shooting from 3 vs. Purdue Defending the 3
Penn State has been one of the best three point shooting teams in the nation throughout the entire season but it seems Purdue’s defensive scheme and Edey’s presence in the middle causes them a lot of issues. Penn State shot just 7 of 23 from behind the arc and had it not been for some late game heroics from Seth Lundy, that percentage would have been a bit lower. Purdue’s scheme of running guys off the three point line but stopping them before getting too deep into the lane and forcing mid-range jumpers seems to work when teams can’t or don’t have the ability to pull Edey away from the basket.
Penn State: 66
Penn State: 65
Well, this was certainly headed in the right direction for this score but Purdue just struggled with the press in the late stages of a game. Watching this game devolve into a full on scramble mode finish, you saw that Purdue has two guys that really know what they are doing against a press in Smith and Gillis but often times have two other guys on the floor that struggle with the pressure. On the games most important sequence, with Purdue up just 3 points, Brandon Newman turned away from half court and threw a backwards pass that was easily intercepted and turned into an easy layup.
The issue with Purdue’s ability to break the press I believe has more to do with Painter preaching to them to not get rushed and to take their time. Although most of the time this is good because being too quick often times leads to mistakes like turnovers, it can also lead a team to being too passive in these situations. Instead of attacking the press by catching, turning up court, and looking for cutters and using the back pass as a last resort to reverse the ball, Purdue uses that immediately and often times misses easy passes they could make.
As you can see from the still photos below, Newman catches the in bounds pass and instead of immediately turning to attack, he waits for the double team to reach him. Even at that point, he has Gillis near half court to pass to but the unwillingness to turn and face doesn’t allow him to see Gillis nor does it allow him to see Smith easily has room to cut open. Instead, a very lazy pass is made backwards toward Morton that is intercepted easily and turns into an easy layup for Penn State.
If the correct pass is made here to Smith or Gillis, the game is over, but more so this is the problem that is emblematic of Purdue’s entire inability to effectively break the press. In other situations, this could easily be turned into a 2 on 3 advantage for Purdue with Edey getting, at worst, a one on one scoring opportunity or providing a seal for an easy layup. That is the type of aggressiveness that is needed to make teams pay for pressing and applying pressure rather than the cause for panic.