There is no way the Boilers should have lost this game. Once again they came out flat and cold in the first quarter, leading to a game of near catch up the rest of the way. After shooting 5-17, the team was down at the end of the first quarter 20-10. I am not sure why the slow starts. It is one thing to have shots bounce around and out, or other things not go your way. But to come out of the gate missing everything while letting an average at best team have their way on offense is inexplicable. In the second quarter, the trend continued, as the Boilers shot only 6-21.
If I would have thought about it early enough, I would have kept track of missed layups. It would not be an exaggeration to say there were at least 30 missed layups in this game by Purdue. Yes a lot of them were contested and some were fouls. But the layup is the most basic shot in the game. Combine that with poor three point shooting, 1-9 for the game, and it equals a loss.
Well don't blame seniors Ashley Morrissette or Bridget Perry. Morrissette had arguably her best game as a Boiler, sinking a record 10 shots on the way to an effort of 28 points, 4 assists, 7 rebounds, 1 block, and 4 steals. For most of the game her help came from Perry, who put in a good effort of 10 points, 6 rebounds, 2 assists, 3 blocks, and 2 steals. The rest of the team played a forgettable game. For the most part the freshmen played like freshmen, and Dominique McBryde shot 0-10 all in the post. She even got so mad she got a technical. McBryde has been a bright spot so far in the first 3 games, so this was just a bad day at the office. Outside of Morrissette and Perry, the rest of the team shot a combined 7-36. One or two more made threes or two more made layups would have led to a close win in this one.
Things picked up in the third quarter as Purdue won the quarter 21-14, making a lot of steals and drawing fouls and making free throws. One got the sense that a close come back win was in the making. Effort on both sides of the ball finally picked up in the second half. However, missed post shots continued in the fourth quarter and the teams more or less traded baskets, leading Purdue to come up just a little short in the end.
I realize that last year, April Wilson bailed out the team time and time again with her play and leadership. This year's team is young and learning to play together. True enough, despite young talent, there is no substitute for experience, especially players who have played a lot together who know how to anticipate what their teammates are going to do. However, fundamentals are just that. There are some disturbing trends that need to be turned around quickly or this season is going to go south in a hurry. It starts with effort, especially on the defensive side of the ball. Purdue has hung their hat on defense, and in the second half it finally showed up in this game. But where was it in the first half? Why are three point shooters left so open game in and game out? What about stopping back door cuts? Ball handling at least improved somewhat with only 9 turnovers committed in this game. But then there is shooting, the foremost object of the game. I'm not really sure at this point where the shooting is going to come from against tough competition. Morrissettte and Oden have been the most consistent shooters so far, but the team needs a lot more than that. It is understandable that sometimes the 3 pointers are not falling, but this is 4 straight games of them not falling. This results in the opposition doing the obvious in packing in a zone defense to stymie the post. And layups are layups. Passing the ball around the perimeter while standing around waiting for something to happen isn't going to get it done. Doesn't that come down to coaching?
The team has a couple of fairly easy match-ups in Cancun over Thanksgiving weekend before taking on #11 Stanford. Last year the Boilers took Stanford to OT, but this is a different season. Maybe the players will learn from playing Stanford. Hopefully the players will learn what it feels like to let a winnable game get away and take corrective action. Otherwise it is going to be a long season.