For once, I am pretty much at a loss to try and explain what is going on with this team. If you look at the stats, Purdue shoots the ball 46 times to Oklahomaís 51. Purdue has 27 rebounds including 10 on the offensive glass while Oklahoma has 28 rebounds including 10 on the offensive glass. Purdue has 16 turnovers while Oklahoma has 15. Oklahoma has 16 assists; Purdue has 12. Purdue shoots 14 free throws, making 9 while Oklahoma shoots 7 free throws and only makes 3. You look at only these stats and say, well, Purdue probably lost, but it should have been a relatively close game. Then someone tells you that Oklahoma won by 18 because they made 28 of their 51 shots while Purdue made only 17 of their 46 and it begins to dawn on you that the biggest single reason Purdue canít seem to beat anyone is because they canít make shots. I didnít keep track tonight, but Iíd guess that of Purdueís 29 missed shots, at least 10 of those were not even contested and I mean they were about as wide open as they could be. Oklahoma does put a lot of pressure on the basketball and is extremely aggressive fighting through picks, but even when Purdue got a good look, they simply couldnít make it. The really scary thing is that Purdue shot their highest percentage in their last 4 games tonight (37.0%) and still lost by 18.
If youíre looking for scapegoats tonight, you donít have to look any further than Matt Kiefer and David Teague. If they would have played badly, Purdue still might have had a chance to win, but they werenít merely bad, they were horrible. Kiefer played 27 minutes, managed 3 points and 3 rebounds and had 5 of the worst turnoverís heís had in his 3 years at Purdue and thatís saying a bunch. He also played miserably at the defensive end, particularly in the 2nd half when Kevin Bookout just ate him alive. The odd thing is, Matt has been playing fairly well before tonight (19 pts, 3reb against UC, 11 points, 9 reb against NCST and 17 points, 5 reb against Memphis) and hopefully tonightís performance was just a bad game and not a sign of things to come.
David Teague continued to fire away at will and mostly shot blanks again tonight. He also had 5 really horrible turnovers including one late in the first half when Purdue had gotten a steal and had a fast break opportunity to cut the lead to 7. I had to look this up to make sure I wasnít imagining things, but last year as a sophomore, David scored 11.5 points per game on 40.4% shooting from the field including 37.6 % from beyond the arc. So far this year, heís averaging 8.5 points per game (he did have 15 against Memphis, all but 2 in the first half) on 19.7 % shooting from the field including 20.7% from beyond the arc. It wouldnít be quite so bad if David wasnít such a key element in Purdueís offense, but in the 4 games heís played since returning from his wrist injury, heís taken 61 of Purdueís 218 shots or 28% of all the attempts. To me, itís really hard to believe some of the easy shots heís missing. Tonight he missed at least 3 wide open looks from beyond the arc with his feet set and he missed all 8 of his shots inside the arc including at least 1 lay-up and 3 wide open 10Ė15 foot jumpers. My advice to David is to forget about all this pounding on your chest when you do make a shot and just keep playing hard. Quite honestly, you look like a fool when you stalk around the court pointing at your chest and pounding it when youíre shooting as poorly as you are.
Other than these two guys, I thought everyone else played at least OK. Both McKnight and Landry scored in double figures and Landry led both teams with 9 rebounds. Andrew Ford started tonight and in the 17 minutes he played, he made a couple of positive contributions and even the TO he was charged with looked to be a foul by the Oklahoma player. Bryant Dillon played 30 minutes and didnít score, but he only shot it once and I thought he did a respectable job of getting the ball up the floor against Oklahomaís pressure. Gary Ware emerged from whatever funk heís been stuck in prior to tonightís game and managed 6 points, 1 rebound, 1 assist and 1 block in 16 minutes.
Enough of that, Iíd rather talk about the future than rehash what is becoming an old story. Itís become painfully obvious over the last 4 games that Purdueís only chance to win basketball games is to have Kiefer, Landry, McKnight and Teague all operating at reasonable levels of efficiency. The rest of the guys are just not going to score enough points for Purdue to win if any of these 4 have a bad game. If I were Gene, Iíd scrap the 3-guard attack and move Gary Ware into the starting line-up. Iíd then pound the ball inside to the big guys on every possession and try to take advantage of whatever mismatch we have. I mean, letís face it, just about everyone nowadays plays with 3 guards and Purdue ought to be able to find a way to get a big guy isolated inside on a small guy with this line-up. Iíd tell Teague that if he shot the ball before 20 seconds have elapsed on the shot clock, heíd better make it or heís going to be sitting next to me. Come to think of it, Iíd tell EVERYONE that. I think Purdue has to slow the offense down and make the other team play defense for at least 20 seconds on every possession if they are going to have a chance to beat anyone. On defense, Iíd go to a zone and try to make the other team beat me from outside. OK, maybe I wouldnít play zone exclusively, but Iíd at least play zone when I had the big line-up in there because Iím not sure the big guys could effectively defend the smaller, quicker player one of them would have to guard. Of course, what the heck do I know (lol)? One thing I do know is that it would be almost impossible to be much worse than what weíve seen the last 4 games.
Finally, I want to close with this thought. I hope nobody on this team thinks that the next 4 games against Colorado State, Evansville, Baylor and Eastern Illinois are going to be cakewalks. I donít know anything about any of these 4 teams, but I do know that they are ALL capable of beating this yearís Purdue team and ALL of them are going to come into Mackey thinking they can win the game. I think this season is close to being lost unless the players come out and play their hearts out against these teams. Those of you that know me know I generally try to be upbeat about the team and itís prospects, but after tonightís game, not only am I as discouraged about this team as I've ever been about a Geen Keady coached team, Iím also extremely concerned that Gene could lose this team if he hasnít already. I know Gene and his staff wonít give up, I just hope the players won't either.
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