I'm going to make this brief because I need to drive back to Ann Arbor tonight (about a 4 hour journey), so I'll just break this down into "The Good" and "The Bad."
- The big men: Though they did not play at the same time, Hammons and Haas led the way for Purdue this afternoon. Hammons led all scorers with 15 points, which was punctuated by a monstrous dunk before the under-4 timeout in the 2nd half. The dunk had followed 2 consecutive blocks on the defensive end of the floor. Needless to say, the few fans in attendance went crazy after the dunk. Also, Hammons made the first 3 of the game early in the game. Obviously he won't shoot beyond the arc often, but having this weapon could be great during the regular season
- Haas played a tough game and earned his 10 points today. Should have had another 2 had a dunk gone in (actually bounced out and was about to go back in, but the refs blew the play dead for Haas hanging on the basket too long).
- Bryson Scott seems to have improved. He did make a costly drive to the basket, which did result in a missed layup, a defensive rebound, and caused one fan behind to yell "WHYYYY?!", but outside of that, he has been making smarter plays distributing the ball. He contributed to many fast break plays, some of which were accounted for in his 4 assists today (and no turnovers).
- Only 14 fouls called today on the Boilers, and many of those came towards the end of the 2nd half. Maybe it's just me, but this seems to be a much lower number compared to last year? Cal (PA) had 24 fouls called against them in comparison. 4 of Purdue's fouls came from Octeus.
- The freshmen overall played alright. Obviously, Haas stood out (literally), but PJ Thompson seemed to be the crowd favorite as he hustled all over the court. Though he did commit 2 turnovers, one of them he gained back running after the defensive player and knocking it out of his hands to prevent the fast break.
- Purdue out rebounded Cal (PA) 49-37. It helped that when Hammons and Haas were in, they could just stand under the basket and reach for the ball without even jumping.
- I enjoyed the fact that Purdue did not take their foot off the pedal in the first half, as they jumped out of the 50-22 lead at the half.
- Issac Haas is so tall, Purdue requires him to have his own zip code.
- The awfully slow start. Purdue started the game down 7-2, but it felt like 14-2 in the gym. The offensive play was messy, Cal was making baskets at ease, and Painter had to call the TO 3 minutes into the game. Luckily, Hammons hit the 3 out of the TO, as mentioned above, which sparked the Boilers offensive game in the first half. However, a slow start like this in B1G play, or even against some of our non-con opponents, could be costly.
- Free throws: Ay caramba. 53.8% (14-26). A few of those misses were on the front end of 1 and 1's. This needs be solved soon. Last year people blamed the Johnson brothers, but obviously it is still an issue that will kills us this year.
- The crowd: Maybe I shouldn't include this because I was spoiled when I was at Purdue. The last time I attended an exhibition game, it was JaJuan and E'Twaun's senior year and even exhibition games were nearly sold out. The feeling in Mackey was a bit dead, the Paint Crew didn't even fill in the lower bowl, but I guess that's what happens when the last place team in the B1G plays an exhibition game. I hope this improves.
- Outside of the start of the game, there were a few times in the 2nd half where Purdue was a bit dead. Purdue only outscored Cal (PA) by 9 points in the 2nd half. Maybe I'm asking for too much after Purdue almost gained a 30 point lead at the half.
It seems like this team has improved greatly since last year. It is hard to judge that based on an exhibition game, but Purdue played tough throughout the game. The freshmen are stepping up and playing hard, but these guys aren't the 5 star semi-pro athletes that circulate through Kentucky every year, so they are going to make their mistakes throughout the year. Things seem to be looking up in Mackey, but I'm personally not ready to say that this season will be better until we are well into regular season play.