My wife and I journeyed to West Lafayette today hoping to see the Purdue team blow out the Chicago State team and then get to watch guys like Ije Nwankwo and Matt Carroll play some quality minutes at the end. Little did we know that seniors Chris Booker and Brett Buscher would be dumb enough to be late to practice and spend all of the first half and the first 5 minutes of the 2nd half on the bench in Gene’s personal doghouse.
The game itself was not much of a game. Purdue missed their first eight shots and still only trailed 2-0 and it was pretty obvious that Chicago State was in way over their head. Still, they kept scrapping and Purdue didn’t really seize control until late in the first half and Purdue ended up leading at the half by a score of 40-24. The 2nd half was perhaps Purdue’s worst half of the season as the players appeared anxious to just get the game over. In addition to missed free throws and missed lay-ups, Purdue spent a lot of time firing up blanks from beyond the arc. Despite this, I think Purdue led by 25 or so late in the game before Gene put in the bench and Chicago State was able to make the final score somewhat respectable at 75-57.
(1) Defense – Purdue’s defensive effort was pretty consistent the whole game. They were picking up the opposing guards at mid-court and forcing Chicago State out of any semblance of an offense. For the game, Purdue had 11 steals and forced 17 turnovers from a team that had some pretty decent ball-handlers.
(2) Ivan Kartelo – Ivan had a career day on the boards with 15 rebounds in 19 minutes including 9 on the offensive glass. I can’t remember the last time a Purdue player had 9 offensive rebounds. Shoot, there have been games when the whole team didn’t get 9 offensive rebounds. He also added 5 points, 3 blocks and 1 assist to offset 2 turnovers.
(3) Melvin Buckley – Melvin came off the bench to score 20 points (17 in the first half) and he and Kenneth were basically Purdue’s whole offense in the first half. He also had 4 assists and a rebound to offset 2 turnovers in 27 productive minutes.
(4) Austin Parkinson – Austin got to play a lot today because Brandon was in foul trouble (he eventually fouled out) and he took advantage of it with 7 points, 8 assists, 2 rebounds, 2 steals and only 1 turnover in 26 minutes. Austin combined with Matt Kiefer to make the most spectacular play of the game when he rifled a pass to Matt under the hoop and Matt went up and dunked it home.
(5) Brett Buscher – I’m loath to include as a positive any guy who sat out almost ¾ of the game, but Brett really played well when he finally got in there. He ended up with 9 points, 2 assists and a steal in only 11 minutes of play and I really liked the way he shot the ball with confidence.
(6) Kenneth Lowe – Today was not a big scoring day for Kenneth, but most of that was because Chicago State played some “gimmick” defenses designed to stop him and he was content to set screens and get other guys open. Still, he had 9 points, 3 rebounds and a steal versus 1 turnover and played his usual “in your face” brand of defense. It’s great to see Kenneth take what’s given to him and not try to force things.
(7) David Teague – I thought David played just O.K. today. He did have 10 points, 5 rebounds and 2 steals in 23 minutes, but I thought he probably took a couple of shots that he shouldn’t have taken. It looked to me like David wasn’t really ‘up” for this game, but you can say the same thing about just about everybody on the team and it’s actually fairly understandable.
(8) Matt Kiefer – Matt’s another guy who played OK, but not great. If he ever learns how to finish his inside shots, he’s going to become a really good player, but right now, he is really struggling with what most people would consider the easiest shot in basketball, the lay-up. I think he blew 2 today that were shots most high school freshmen make without even thinking about them. He did have 7 points, 4 rebounds (3 offensive), 2 blocks, 1 steal and 1 turnover in 19 minutes, but he probably should have scored at least 15.
(9) Ball handling/passing judgment – Purdue was pretty good in this category today with 18 assists and only 10 turnovers. Of course, take out Parkinson’s 8 assists against 1 turnover and the rest of the team doesn’t have much to brag about, but I think most any coach would take this kind of over-all effort every night and be happy with it.
(10) Ije Nwankwo – Ije played in both halves for a total of only 7 minutes, but while he was in there he had an offensive rebound, a basket, a steal, a block, an assist and a turnover and I thought he did very well. One things for sure, once he gets his hands on the ball, there aren’t a lot of guys that are capable of taking it away from him.
(1) Rebounding – It’s beginning to sound like a broken record, but Purdue got pounded on the boards again today (44-39) by a team that really didn’t have that much size. That statistic is even more amazing when you consider that Ivan had a career day with 15 all by himself. I’ve always thought rebounding was more about effort than it is anything else (assuming their isn’t a huge size differential), and today Chicago State just wanted the ball more than Purdue did. I think there are going to be some Purdue players running until they’re sick at the next practice.
(2) Shooting – For the game, Purdue was 25 of 62 for 43 %. Considering the quality of the opposition, this is really pretty bad. Purdue had 4 guys shoot the ball reasonably well (Buscher, Buckley, Lowe and Parkinson were 16 of 26) but the rest of the team combined to shoot a horrible 9 of 36 or 25%.
(3) Free throws – 16 of 26 might cut it from the field, but it’s pretty horrible from the free throw line and the only guy who shot free throws today without a miss was Melvin Buckley who was perfect on 3 tries.
(4) Brandon McKnight – Brandon really had a tough day at the office. He missed all 5 of his shots (he even forced a couple which is not like him) and he only had 1 assist and 0 turnovers in 16 minutes before fouling out. It was by far his worst outing of the year.
(1) Chris Booker – Chris had 4 points, 4 rebounds, 1 assist, 1 block, 2 steals and 1 turnover in 12 minutes of action. I’d put him in the positive column if he hadn’t been late to practice (grin).
(2) Matt Carroll – Matt got a chance to play fairly early in the first half and he did make a nice driving shot (he also missed an easy inside shot) and added 1 rebound in only 4 minutes. However, he also picked up 2 personal fouls and right now it appears that Matt is having a lot of trouble learning how to play defense without fouling.
In conclusion, there’s not much to say about a game like this one. Purdue won, but they won ugly but I honestly don’t think they gained much from it. This was just one of those games where you can't attach any significance to it at all. Purdue took these guys lightly and it showed. Perhaps just having the competition will show these guys that they can’t take anyone for granted and hopefully they will regain their edge for Thursday night’s showdown with Oklahoma. I think the Oklahoma game will go a long way toward showing Purdue fans and the rest of the college basketball world whether Purdue is a contender or whether they are just a pretender. I don’t think Purdue has to win this game to show everyone they are for real, but they have to at least give Oklahoma a run for their money. Here’s hoping some of the big guys find a way to finish their shots and that out shooters get on a roll.