Prior to game one of the Purdue vs. IU series earlier this year the folks over at Crimson Quarry reached out to see if we wanted to trade some questions. We did. You can read that one here. With game two coming up on the horizon I reached out to see if they were interested in doing this one more time. They were.
Since the last time these two teams met they’ve gone in almost diametrically opposed directions. That Purdue loss was the start of a three game skid for the Hoosiers who have lost six of their last ten games (editor’s note: these questions were submitted prior to IU’s victory over OSU). What has changed with the Hoosiers to cause this losing streak?
Honestly, I’m not sure much has changed. Rather the team just hasn’t grown enough to outpace its shortcomings.
Indiana’s frontcourt is, for my money, among the best in the conference when playing well. The issue is they both need help getting the ball and playing alongside one another causes enough spacing issues that the guards can’t cook, which would be a surprise even if the spacing was there.
You’ll look down on the court and see one of Kel’el Ware or Malik Reneau with a good matchup or in good position but when your eyes go to the backcourt whoever has the ball is stuck in a washing machine.
Same issues, really. Just more teams capitalizing on that.
IU actually had a game against Illinois where they didn’t make a single three point attempt which seems unheard of in today’s game. However, they only lost that one, at Illinois, by eight points. How big of a concern is the lack of three point shooting from this team?
It’s horrific, man. Absolutely boggles the mind.
I don’t think it’s a style thing or the way Mike Woodson wants to play though. He was handed a roster that couldn’t shoot and added one shooter, Miller Kopp, to offset that. The fun new problem is they haven’t added any shooters aside from that (yet).
Indiana didn’t add anyone in the portal last year with a four-member freshman class on the way. The other “shooters” they’ve added have been Tamar Bates and C.J. Gunn. The former never really got the defense down and fell off a cliff down the stretch last year and the latter has seen his minutes decline because he’s not really consistent night in and night out.
These are Woodson’s rosters now. They had a chance to add *perimeter* shooting last offseason and whiffed, didn’t take anybody. I specify perimeter because both Ware and Reneau can fire at a pretty decent rate when they’re open and nobody is looking at them.
Indiana doesn’t shoot because it doesn’t have enough shooters. Woodson made the point that his Knicks teams took a lot of 3s because they had shooters. People asked for Indiana to shoot more last year and I disagreed. The team as a whole didn’t need to shoot more, Miller Kopp as a guy needed to shoot more.
But they don’t have enough shooters because they just did not add shooters.
That’s changing next year when one of the top high school sharpshooters heads to town but for now Indiana is just stuck like this. They will have nights, almost entirely at Assembly Hall, when they look hot from deep but this is a mirage.
I think the shooting improves with time as the roster changes. For now? Gonna be hard to stomach.
Before the first game in the series we traded questions and you described expectations going into this season as “could be good, could be mid” and noted that they were definitely falling more into the mid category. You stood by Woodson at that time saying if things look the same in one year questions about his job security were valid. Do you maintain that stance given the team’s recent difficulties?
If it were up to me? He’s back with some resources to build through the portal for another year to get this right. Assuming he’s back, this offseason is by far the most critical Indiana has faced since his hiring.
I don’t think Woodson is a bad coach. He’s drawn up some good stuff and put trust in his players as he did with Jalen Hood-Schifino, who was handed the keys to the offense and allowed to grow over the course of one season.
Unfortunately for him his prized point guard recruit got way too good way too quickly and became an NBA Draft pick. He was supposed to split on-ball duty with Xavier Johnson and instead ended up running the entire show, putting his development into overdrive.
I also think it’s rather disingenuous to say players haven’t gotten better here. Trayce Jackson-Davis became the passer everyone saw flashes of those first 2-3 years, Malik Reneau is a bonafide all-conference type guy and Kel’el Ware has looked spectacular lately.
Also, gonna make this point, while Trey Galloway has regressed as a shooter his all-around game is far better than it was a few years ago. He’s a much more well-rounded player than he was as a freshman and sophomore. (Wrote this before the big game at Ohio State too. Thank you, Trey)
But I wouldn’t be the one making that call. Indiana would have to convince everyone involved behind the scenes that Woodson can right this ship and a total collapse would make that pretty hard.
The first game resulted in a, surprising to me, 21 point victory for Purdue at Assembly Hall. After that loss, how do you expect the Hoosiers to react to a rematch in hostile territory?
I wasn’t too surprised Purdue won and in hindsight the margin makes more sense. Hear me out for a second here.
Purdue has been a far more consistently good program for two decades now. Lately, they’re consistently great or better.
So when Indiana hires a new coach who suddenly goes 3-1 against Matt Painter, that damages the in state narrative a bit. Purdue has all the recent trophies and awards, yeah, but they still didn’t beat Indiana. Even that one win came after a tough battle.
So when they went into Assembly Hall with a pretty experienced group who understood how to win on the road and saw a Bad team on the opposing sideline after last year’s sweep, they did what they needed to do.
It’s easier to explain last season’s sweep right after you blow your rival out of the water on their home court. Purdue wanted to make a statement and it did.
As far as this game? I’ll have more detailed thoughts below but I don’t think Indiana is really capable of getting up for this. They’re not gonna give up but I just don’t see them having a shot at making this happen.
Xavier Johnson was out for the Penn State game with an injury. What’s his status heading into Saturday against the Boilermakers?
Johnson is out indefinitely. An IU spokesperson confirmed this to the beat on Tuesday night.
Any thoughts on the outcome of this one?
It’s not gonna be pretty.
I don’t expect Indiana to change the gameplan much. I get the whole thing that there’s a “formula” to beating Purdue, but I don’t necessarily think it’s true this year in the way it had some merit last year. The closest thing you can get to that is pressuring the backcourt to your best ability while hoping your 3s fall and theirs miss. That’s luck, not really a plan/formula.
That being said, Indiana does not have the horses to run that race.
Kel’el Ware (if healthy) is going to match up with Zach Edey in the post. He has the kind of length that could give Edey trouble but he’s not a very big guy. Edey is a perfect combination of height and size that just doesn’t get tired and he plays hard for 40 minutes. He’s going to be able to outmuscle in that matchup and draw some fouls.
I know people have said Ware is gonna draw Edey out to the arc but that’s not really the case. He doesn’t spend a lot of time out there and just kinda fires if he gets the ball and is open.
Indiana doesn’t have the guards to counter Smith, Jones and Loyer. One of those guys is gonna be open or just make something happen. Mgbako could get cooking like he did last time before two quick fouls, but we’ll just have to see if that comes to pass.
Purdue will be able to win by as much, if not more, than the margin at Assembly Hall. That’s up to them.