Purdue outscored Division II foe Ursuline College 58-8 in the paint, showing that this team definitely has multiple options to score in close to the basket. Of course the opponent is height challenged and this showed up on the scoreboard. On the flip side, however, Ursuline, a solid team in Division II hit 15 three pointers in the game, revealing a definite concern as the Boilers head into regular season play next Friday against Maine.
Andreona Keys, Dominique McBryde, and Ae'Rianna Harris led the scoring effort with 16 points a piece, while freshman Dominique Oden chipped in an additional 14 points. Bridget Perry grabbed 10 rebounds while Dominique McBryde got 8 rebounds, 4 on the offensive side. Overall rebounding was on display, but what was especially encouraging was 19 offensive rebounds leading to 23 second chance points.
True enough, in these kinds of games, the opponent is generally overmatched, and this game was no exception. Nevertheless, there were a lot of positives to be picked up while watching this game. Start with Dominique McBryde. Quite simply, she might not get much time on the pine this season. She went in there and took up where she left off at the end of last season, only even better. How is this for a stat line - 16 points, 8 rebounds, 4 assists, and 3 steals. She gets deep in the post and just simply asserts her willpower.
With Bree Horrocks held out of the game due to injury, Nora Kiesler did a solid job at the 5 position. She ran the court, showed some improved post moves, was a defensive presence, and displayed better court movement than last season. She finished with 6 points and 4 rebounds, but that was in only 13 minutes.
She was spelled for quite a bit of the game by freshman phenom Harris, who proved that her high recruiting ranking came for a reason. She is already ready for prime time. Adept at either the 4 or 5 position, she played under control, hit a couple of nice spot up jumpers, and flashed athleticism that has to have any fan excited over her potential to affect ball games. Another freshman, Oden was impressive in her debut, showing that she too is already ready for prime time. A capable scorer, which Purdue definitely needs at the guard position, she was all over the floor, even grabbing 4 rebounds in addition to her points. Six of those points came on made three pointers, which was notable as the rest of the team went o fer from downtown. That is definitely a concern that will be addressed later.
With Tiara Murphy held out at point guard due to injury, it was done by committee. Morrissette started out there, but also doing duty at the point were Keys and freshman Miracle Gray. It actually worked out fairly well, as Purdue assisted on 23 of 39 made field goals. I really liked the ball movement of this squad, considering that so many new players were incorporated into the mix. Last season the team showed a great level of unselfish teamwork, and the trend looks to be even better leading into this brand new season. There were only 8 turnovers, and ball movement for the most part was good.
We will see how Murphy and Horrocks contribute to the mix once they return, but this bunch who played looked to have a fire and competitiveness that was encouraging. Gray and Lamina Cooper got in some solid minutes, and while they didn't exactly fill up the stat sheet, they exhibited a kind of quiet confidence that seemed mature for first game freshmen. This entire freshman class is really going to make major contributions. And the upperclassmen all seemed to have worked hard on player development during the off-season.
Now to problems on the perimeter. Giving up 15 three pointers is definitely an area of concern, and Coach V will be addressing it heavily in practice you can be sure of that. Shooting 2 for 15 on our side from three point land is also a concern. Our team has some capable three point shooters, but they better show up and prove it, and the sooner the better. This has been a problem the past couple of seasons, and the Boilers will be facing a lot of packed in zone if the trend continues in any way. It isn't like the team is devoid of good three point shooters. And true, one of our best in Tiara Murphy was sitting it out. Morrissette and Oden will be productive from long range, and Coach is looking for some help from Keys and Perry especially. This is something that could really make the difference between a moderately successful season and a very special season. It is just going to have to take priority and practice. The team did nail some excellent spot up jumpers from inside the 3 point line, and that will help to draw teams out of the post to respect those shots. We will just have to see how outside shooting progresses.
One other notable feature of this game was 15 steals by the Boilers. This was outstanding. Stealing the ball and pushing the fast break will definitely be a point of emphasis. Mostly the defense played was man to man, and with such a deep team, a lot of that will be played this year. If last year was any predictor, though, Coach V will have the team ready to play some effective zone defenses, especially the 2-3 zone. It will take some time for the freshman class to pick up on the finer points of the various zone strategies.
Overall, the positives far outweighed the negatives in this game. The team is in outstanding physical condition, and along with depth and a higher level of athleticism, things are looking up. As long as outside shooting comes along there is no reason not to believe that this team will make it to the NCAA tournament, and hopefully go further than an opening game loss. Obviously it is still too early to say, and the Big Ten conference can be brutal on any team, but the potential for a special season is there.