I didn’t get to see this game in person or on TV due to my granddaughter’s 3rd birthday party, but I was finally able to watch the tape. I have to admit that I was not optimistic about Purdue’s chances of winning this game. My thinking was that without Matt Kiefer, Purdue just did not have enough scorers and interior depth to beat a team with the size Colorado State has. When I saw the score, I figured Purdue struggled throughout the game and just managed to eke out a win down the stretch. To my surprise, I thought Purdue played pretty darn good for about 30 minutes or so before foul trouble caused Gene to go with some pretty patchwork line-ups. I was particularly pleased to see Gary Ware step up and play well and I was also happy with the way Adam Liddell responded to his first playing time as a Boilermaker. In addition, both Matt Carroll and Xavier Price gave Purdue some excellent minutes in relief and I can’t say enough good things about how calm Xavier looked in drilling the two game-winning free throws.
In addition to the good performances Purdue got from guys that haven’t been playing much, Carl Landry, David Teague and Brandon McKnight and Andrew Ford all had pretty solid games. It looked like David played this game without the brace on his shooting hand. While he wasn’t red-hot from the field, he was a lot better than he’s been in the last four games (he was 7-of-19 for the day including 6-of-15 from three-point range). It is a little disappointing to see that of David’s 19 shots from the field, 15 were from beyond the arc, but I thought for the most part the shots he took were shots he could make. Two of his made three-pointers were absolutely huge shots that he stepped up and drilled down the stretch and it was great to see David making shots again. Andrew Ford deserves special mention because even though he did not score, he did a good job of taking care of the basketball (he had five assists and only one turnover) and running the offense. Purdue also did a good job of taking care of the basketball as a team with only nine turnovers and they were also strong on the offensive glass with 11 offensive rebounds (two of which were great tip-ins by Matt Carroll). I can’t remember a single breakaway for CSU and I think that’s perhaps the first time all year Purdue played a game without having this happen.
On the negative side, I was unhappy once again with the lack of patience on offense. I think Purdue has improved in this area since the beginning of the season, but there are still too many times when Purdue fires up a jump shot fairly early in a possession. This was even more apparent late in the game when Purdue was up by double digits and the clock was their friend. I was also unhappy to see that of Purdue’s 56 shots, 24 of them came from beyond the arc. Colorado State was in a zone, but on a lot of possessions, Purdue seemed content to settle for the first open three-pointer that came available instead of working to get the ball inside.
One final thought – Initially I thought losing Matt Kiefer doomed Purdue’s chances to be competitive in the Big 10. With Matt out, it looked to me like opposing teams could concentrate their defensive efforts on Carl Landry since Purdue did not have any other interior players that have showed they could score. I thought that meant Purdue would be lucky to win ANY games until Matt came back. After watching the CSU game, I think Purdue is still going to struggle to score inside, but to the extent that Gary Ware, Matt Carroll and Adam Liddell get more experience and hopefully gain confidence.
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