© Old Gold Free Press Columnists
BOX SCORE: Purdue 58, Indiana 85
As I sat there watching the game tonight, I was reminded of the first time I traveled to Assembly Hall to watch a Purdue-Indiana game. The year was 1975 and a young Purdue team that featured a starting line-up of Wayne Walls, Walter Jordan, Bruce Parkinson, John Garrett and Eugene Parker got absolutely blown out of the gym 104-71. Tonight's score wasn't quite that bad (85-58), but it was still a resounding defeat for Purdue and I felt just as bad after the game as I did then. I donít think there is any point in trying to recap the game except to say that Purdue got off to a bad start and then let the game get completely out of hand early in the second half when they appeared to lose their poise.
The primary reason Indiana won tonight is evident from the box score. Purdueís five starters played a total of 138 minutes and scored 50 points on 15-of-34 shooting including 2-of-4 from beyond the arc. They also had 17 rebounds and 13 turnovers. Indianaís five starters played 126 minutes and scored 39 points on 14-of-32 shooting including 4-of-13 from beyond the arc. They also had 20 rebounds and 10 turnovers. If the game had just been 5-on-5, Purdue probably wouldnít have fared too badly. Unfortunately for Purdue, each team was allowed to substitute and Indianaís bench played magnificently while Purdueís bench was basically nonexistent. How bad was it? Purdueís reserves played a total of 62 minutes and scored eight points on 4-of-12 shooting including a woeful 0-for-5 from beyond the arc. They added five rebounds and four turnovers. Indianaís reserves played a total of 74 minutes and scored 46 points on 15-of-19 shooting including 6-of-7 from beyond the arc. They added nine rebounds and four turnovers. The two guys that absolutely killed Purdue were A.J. Ratliff and Joey Shaw.
Iíve thought all along that for Purdue to be a good team, they need to get positive contributions from everyone, but particularly from the first eight players. In the three Big Ten games to date, Purdueís bench has played a total of 161 minutes and scored a grand total of 20 points on 8-of-29 shooting. Chris Lutz, who averaged 7.4 ppg in the Big Ten last year, has yet to make a basket or a free throw in three Big Ten games. Lutz is 0-for-7, all 3-pointers, and has yet to attempt a free throw. Itís not like heís not getting an opportunity to play either, heís played 53 minutes. Tarrance Crump is not much better. Heís played 49 minutes and scored six points on 3-of-9 shooting. His assist-to-turnover ratio is 2-to-5 and he continues to look lost in the half-court. Marcus Green has played the fewest minutes (36) and scored the most points (12 on 4-of-9 shooting) so at least heís been somewhat productive. What all this tells me is that Matt and the coaching staff need to go back to the drawing board in terms of who starts and who comes off the bench. Itís been my experience that there are just some guys who play better if they start and Iím beginning to wonder if Crump and Lutz arenít two of them. One thing is for sure. If these two guys donít elevate their games, Purdue is in for a very long Big Ten season because I don't think the five starters are capable of beating most Big Ten teams all by themselves. If these guys need a lesson in how important it is to come off the bench and play well, they need look no further than tonightís game.
Iím not going to go through what I thought of each playerís performance tonight except to say that I thought Landry, Teague, Watt and Kramer all played reasonably well and everyone else struggled. I thought Indiana played exceptionally well on the defensive end and once they broke Purdueís spirit, their offense got going as well. From what I have seen, there isn't anybody in the Big Ten that plays as well as Indiana does at the defensive end and if they keep shooting the ball well from the perimeter, they will be a hard team to beat, especially in the Hall of Calls.
Oh, one other thing. Exactly 28 days after being blown out by Indiana 104-71, the very same 1974/75 Purdue team came within a whisker of handing them their first defeat of the year and ended up losing in Mackey 83-82. What that tells me is that all is not lost just because Purdue laid an egg tonight. Hopefully the coaching staff will go back to Mackey, take a look at the tape, and then try to make some adjustments in how they are managing their personnel. After three Big Ten games, itís pretty clear (at least itís clear to me (LOL)) that what they are doing isnít working and itís time to try something else.