I could spend a lot of time writing about all the things I witnesses today that cost Purdue this ballgame, but the whole game can be pretty much summarized by a few numbers. These numbers are 23, 7/22, 3/15 and 32.9%. Purdue pounded Indiana on the offensive boards 16 to 7, they had 19 assists on 24 made baskets, they held Indiana to only 4 of 17 from beyond the arc and they even made a decent percentage of their free throws (16 of 21). On top of that, they got a tremendous break (after a horrible call almost cost them the game) when A.J. Ratliff fouled Carl Landry on a floor length pass at the end of the first overtime. Landryís shot clearly came after the buzzer, but the foul clearly came before the buzzer, so the shot counted and Carl had 1 free throw to win the game. It was probably asking too much for Carl to make the shot and he didnít.
If youíve read this far, youíve probably wondered what those numbers were that I mentioned at the start of the first paragraph. In order they represent the number of minutes Matt Kiefer played (out of 50), the shooting numbers for David Teague, the shooting numbers for Brandon McKnight and Purdueís shooting percentage for the game. After 14 games, this much is painfully obvious:
(1) Purdue cannot win if Matt Kiefer and Carl Landry both donít play at least 30 minutes in regulation.
(2) Purdue cannot win when McKnight and/or Teague have bad shooting nights.
(3) Since one or both of these things occur almost every game, it is no wonder Purdue is 4-10.
Brandon McKnight Ė Brandon was the only player on either side to play all 50 minutes today. In the first half, he harassed Marshall Strickland the length of the floor and was largely responsible for taking Indiana completely out of their offense. Frankly, I think one of the reasons Brandon isnít shooting the ball particularly well is that he plays so hard; he wears down as the game goes on. Itís not like Brandon doesnít take good shots. Time after time he would get open inside the arc for shots that most high school players make routinely only to miss them (His little runner in the lane at the end of regulation being a good example). Iím not sure what you do except keep plugging and hope the ball starts falling because itís not like Purdue has any other options.
Andrew Ford Ė Quite honestly, Andrew Ford played wonderfully today. He finally hit some shots (he was 2of 4 including 2 of 3 from beyond the arc), and he had 3 rebounds, 4 assists and zero turnovers in 22 minutes before fouling out. I think we finally saw today why Gene has kept Andrew in the starting line-up for much of the year even though he hasnít had any games nearly as good as this one. Of all Purdueís guards, Andrew seems to be the only one who has any success feeding the post.
Carl Landry Ė With the exception of a couple of silly fouls and a couple of bad passes, I thought Carl played an excellent game today. Indiana did a great job of denying him the ball most of the game (A lot of credit goes to D.J. White who is one impressive looking freshman), but Carl still managed a game high 21 points along with 8 rebounds (5 offensive), 5 assists, 2 steals and 4 turnovers. I was a little surprised to see he didnít have at least 1 block, but sometimes itís hard to tell from courtside.
Matt Kiefer Ė I know a lot people think McKnightís foul on Strickland that led to a 3-point play near the end of regulation cost Purdue the ball game, but in my mind that pales in significance to the fact that Matt played only 25 minutes today before fouling out. From where I sat, Matt probably committed 10 fouls when he was in there but they only called him for 5. For a smart kid, he makes some of the dumbest fouls Iíve ever seen. I like his aggressiveness; I just wish he used better judgment. For the day, Matt scored 7 points and pulled down 8 rebounds to go with a steal and 3 turnovers before fouling out on what looked to me like a pretty bogus call. Like I said earlier, I donít think Purdue is going to win ANY more games this year unless Matt learns how to play without fouling.
David Teague Ė Iíll tell you what, David played his guts out today. He had the primary responsibility for guarding Bracey Wright and he hounded him and hounded him. He got caught a couple of times with an uncalled moving screen that let Wright get free for a couple of lay-ups, but for the most part he was in Braceyís face the whole game. The box score credits Wright with 9 turnovers and I think you can give David a large part of the credit for those. At the offensive end, David also had an excellent game with 21 points (although with 22 shots, youíd think heíd have more than that), 11 rebounds 1 assist, 2 steals and only 1 turnover in 44 minutes. About the only questionable part of Davidís game continues to be his shot selection, but most of the time today he at least was squared up.
Bryant Dillon Ė Bryant started today in place of Andrew Ford and had an OK floor game with 3 rebounds, 2 assists, 2 steals and a block to go with 3 turnovers, but he only scored 1 lousy point in 40 minutes of play!! I know heís not one of Purdueís primary scorers, but it seems to me that if youíre going to play effectively at the Division I level, you at least have to look to score once in awhile. There was one play in OT (Iím not sure if it was the 1st or 2nd) when Bryant had the ball as the shot clock was expiring and he didnít even look at the basket. I mean, come on Bryant, shoot the ball!
Gary Ware Ė I donít know what the deal is with Gary. He should have had a field day today because heís bigger and stronger than anyone Indiana had in the game, but for some reason heís back to playing passively like he was at the beginning of the season. He looks confused and uncertain at both ends of the floor and heís definitely more of a liability than he is an asset right now. He did have a couple of blocks today, but when Kiefer or Landry is in foul trouble, Purdue really needs him to come in and play well and he just hasnít been doing it the last few games.
Xavier Price Ė I thought Xavier gave Purdue a nice lift off the bench today. He hit a basket, a couple of big 3-pointers and added a rebound and 2 assists to go with 2 turnovers in 15 minutes. Frankly, Iíd like to see Xavier get a lot more minutes the rest of the season because I think he could be a very good player for Purdue down the road. He still makes some ďfreshmanĒ mistakes, but I like his competitiveness and heís a pretty decent shooter.
Both Charles Davis and Chris Hartley played today, but neither one played enough to make much of an impression.
I wish I could offer anyone who is still reading this some hope, but Iím afraid I canít. Itís just one of those years when Purdueís Menís BB team is going to take their lumps. I know a lot of you havenít experienced a year like this one and think somehow Purdue is too good to have it happen, but the reason most of you think that is because of what Gene Keady has done for Purdue. I was there when Purdue went 11-12 in 1960, 7-17 in 1963, and 8-16 in 1966. It turns out that 2005 is going to be another one of those horrible years just like those were, but itís just one year and the program WILL recover.
I can tell you that I donít think this group of kids is going to quit. Theyíre clearly not as talented or as deep as most other Big 10 teams, they struggle to make shots and they make some really horrible decisions, but they scrap, they fight and they donít give up. I think Gene and his staff will continue to experiment to try and find some ways to get better. He mentioned after the game that they are working on a zone defense in practice to help with the foul situation, but that he doesnít fell they can play it well enough yet to use it in a game. Iíd like to see them start playing it just as a change of pace for maybe one or two possessions each half. Indiana did that today and had good success with it and I think itís something Purdue just has to do if theyíre going to hope to win some more games this year. Gene also put both Landry and Kiefer back in the game during the last 4 minutes of the first half even though both of them already had 2 fouls. I canít remember him doing this very often during his career and I was glad to see it today because I donít think he can afford to keep both of them out for long stretches this year no matter what the foul situation is.
Finally, let me say this. Coaching didnít win this game today, talent did. Purdue doesnít have a single player that could start for Indiana (other than perhaps Landry) and Indiana brings players off the bench that could start and play a lot for Purdue. Shoot, Indiana has players that didnít even see the floor today that could probably start for Purdue. If there is a silver lining in this loss today itís that it may help Mike Davis keep his job (I know, I know, thatís not really much consolation). Frankly, I think thatís good for Purdue, not bad. In my view, he gets less out of what heís got than any coach in the Big 10 since Brian Ellerbe walked the sidelines for Michigan. Indiana was simply horrible in the first half today and the only reason they were even in the ball game at all was because Purdue just simply canít make easy shots. It took a Purdue scoring drought that had to last a good 7 or 8 minutes (from the point Purdue led 32-22 after about 3 minutes of the 2nd half) to get Indiana back into the game. With the talent Indiana is putting on the floor and the way Purdue is shooting the basketball, there is no way Indiana should struggle to beat Purdue this year. Sure, Indiana is playing a lot of freshmen, but theyíre not playing freshmen that canít play. White, Ratliff, Vaden and Hardy are all very impressive players who can defend, score and rebound. The problem for them is, I think that if they follow in the footsteps of players like Wright and Strickland, they wonít be any better two years from now than they are today. When you have players like these playing alongside the Big 10ís leading scorer (Bracey Wright) and a kid with the skills of a Marshall Strickland, itís hard to believe they could be 6-6.