It's hard to know whether Purdue's impressive win last night (80-39) was more a result of what Purdue did defensively or what CMU didn't do. Watching the game, I thought it might be the best defense I've ever seen a Gene Keady team play, but the thought also crossed my mind that perhaps CMU just isn't that good.
If you look at CMU's record, you'll see that before last night's game they were 2-4 with the first 3 losses coming in Hawaii to Dayton (82-63), Ohio State (77-71) and Santa Clara (76-62). Then they won at home over Marist (71-67), lost on the road to Bradley (71-65) and beat Notre Dame in South Bend (69-68). So, on the season they were averaging about 67 points per game and nobody had held them below 62. I don't think anybody would confuse them with Arizona or Florida or Duke, but they are obviously a team that Purdue had to take seriously. In the end, I think the proper conclusion is that Purdue caught them on an off night, but it was still a pretty impressive performance from the Boilermakers.
I'm not going to say much about the individuual performances because everyone who played tonight did some good things and hardly anybody played enough to have eye-popping stats. I will say it was particularly good to see Brandon McKnight get back to playing the way he was before the Chicago State and Oklahoma games. Last night, he was solid with basketball, he made good passing decisions and he shot the ball with confidence. It was also good to see Ivan Kartelo dominating the glass inside. If this had been a close game, he would easily have had a double-double.
About the only negative on the night was Purdue's continuing to not take very good care of the basketball (something like 19 turnovers), but at least part of that was caused by Gene substituting so liberally. I think he used 12 players in the first half and 14 in the second.
I'll close by saying that it's hard for me not to get too excited about this team. This team plays the same way all of Gene's good teams have played ... hard nosed, aggressive, run the floor and take no prisoners. They've got guys who can shoot it, they've got guys who can defend and they've got guys who are willing to do all the little things that are necessary for a team to be successful. Frankly, I don't think anybody knows just how good this team can be, but the ingredients are there for this to be one of Gene's best and that would make them pretty darn good.
One final note. I wanted to make special mention of Andrew Ford and Chris Hartley. I don't know these kids personally, but watching them play last night reminded me what great kids they are. Walking on at Purdue or any Big 10 school takes a special kind of kid and my hat is off to them for having the determination and perseverance to stick it out. It can't be much fun to be stuck on the bench game after game and it was great to see both of them get some minutes and to see them have some success. I guess if I think about it I'd say the same thing about Kevin Garrity even though he's a scholarship player. All I can say is keep it up guys, you are a credit to the Purdue basketball family and we're lucky to have you.