© Old Gold Free Press Columnists
BOX SCORE: Purdue 55, Michigan 71
As I sat there today watching the game and seeing Michigan’s tall, athletic front line keep swatting away shot after shot, it occurred to me that the definition of futility just has to be doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result each time. I thought exactly the same thing as I watched Chris Lutz, Marcus Green, Terrance Crump and Keaton Grant continually turn their head to follow the ball and lose sight of the player they were attempting to guard. It’s getting pretty late in the season to keep making the same mistakes over and over again, but some of these Purdue players seem like they will never learn.
The final score today was 71-55 in Michigan’s favor and the game was every bit as one-sided as that score might suggest. A quick look at the box score shows that both teams played their bench a total of 60 minutes. However, as one might suspect, there was a considerable difference in productivity in Michigan’s favor. Here are the grim facts:
Purdue – 2-of-9 shooting, 6 rebounds, 3 assists, 6 turnovers, 1 steal, 1 block, 6 points
Michigan – 6-of-14 shooting, 14 rebounds, 10 assists, 4 turnovers, 2 steals, 2 blocks, 18 points
In my opinion, Purdue isn’t going to beat ANYONE on the road unless they can find a way to reverse these kinds of numbers. Because I was curious, I went back and looked up the numbers for Purdue’s three primary bench players since the Big Ten started. Here’s what I found:
Green – 81 min, 5-of-18 shooting, 14 points, 15 rebounds, 6 assists and 8 turnovers
Crump – 95 min, 5-of-16 shooting, 12 points, 11 rebounds, 6 assists and 6 turnovers
Lutz – 106 min, 4-of-16 shooting, 11 points, 5 rebounds, 7 assists and 5 turnovers
If you average this out, these three guys are playing 47 minutes/game and scoring 6.1 points/game on 28-percent shooting from the field. When you consider that Michigan’s Jerret Smith played 27 minutes today and scored 11 points, it’s pretty easy to see just how poor the production is from Purdue’s bench.
As for the game itself, Purdue got off to a very poor start and Michigan led by as many as nine points (13-4) before Purdue could get untracked. You kind of had the feeling that Purdue wasn’t going to do very well today when Carl Landry picked up a silly charging foul nine seconds into Purdue’s fist possession and Keaton Grant launched an ill-advised three-pointer 10 seconds into Purdue’s second possession. Frankly, I had visions that it was going to be the nightmare in Bloomington all over again. However, from here, Purdue finally got going and managed to actually take the lead 22-17 before Michigan closed out the half with an 8-1 run to lead 25-23. Purdue got a nice steal on the opening possession of the second half and tied the game at 25 on a David Teague jumper, but then the roof fell in as Michigan really started doing a good job of executing their half-court offense and Purdue just couldn’t stop them. The final score was 71-55.
Carl Landry – Carl got in early foul trouble (both his first half fouls were silly fouls), got poked in the eye and never really got going as evidenced by the fact that he only played 28 minutes. He was pretty effective on those 28 minutes with 15 points, eight rebounds, one assist, one steal, one block and three turnovers, but he’s got to be on the floor more than 28 minutes if Purdue’s going to win games and Purdue ahs to find a way to get him more than nine shots.
David Teague – David really worked hard today and I noticed him talking to several of the Purdue players during the game trying to get them going. I thought he did a good job defensively on Abram and Harris (when he was guarding him) and he ended up with 15 points, six rebounds (all offensive), one assist and one block in 39 minutes.
Tarrance Crump – I don’t know what’s wrong with Tarrance, but after looking like he might have started to figure things out against Wisconsin, he reverted back to some of his old bad habits today against Michigan. As a result, he was no help at all today and in 12 minutes of play he did not make a single positive contribution at the offensive end of the floor. He had two drives to the basket today where he got his shot stuffed down his throat and in both cases he had a man open for an easy shot, but didn’t see him. I think both blocked shots also led to a transition basket for Michigan at the other end.
Gordon Watt – Gordon’s primary defensive responsibility today was to sag off of Brett Petway and give Carl some help with Sims. That strategy worked pretty well as far as controlling Sims, but Petway took advantage of his opportunities for several alley-oop slams and Purdue had a hard time stopping him. Gordon struggled from the field today (0-of-5), but he did make 6-of-9 free throws for six points and he added six rebounds, two assists, two steals and two turnovers in 32 minutes.
Chris Lutz – Chris did manage to hit two three-pointers today and perhaps his shooting slump is over. One can only hope so, because Chris continues to have trouble finding his man on the defensive end and he’s not much of a factor in either the rebounding or assists categories. His line evidences this today as he played 21 minutes and scored six points and added a turnover in those minutes.
Marcus Green – Marcus’s play continues to baffle me as he looks to merely be going through the motions. I honestly hope he hasn’t mentally “checked-out” on the season, but it certainly appears to me as if his mind is elsewhere. Today he didn’t score (he missed all three shots he took) but he did have three rebounds, three assists, one steal and two turnovers in 18 minutes of play. I think part of the problem for Marcus is that because Purdue does not have enough size up front, Marcus is being forced to defend players that are bigger and stronger than he is when he does get into the game. I don’t know what’s wrong with Marcus; I only hope the coaching staff can figure out what’s bothering him because Purdue sorely needs him.
Chris Kramer – I thought Chris really came to play today. He was active at both ends of the floor and looked to be one of the few Purdue players who weren’t afraid to shoot the basketball. He ended up with 11 points, three rebounds, two assists, two steals and two turnovers in 29 minutes and he also played some tenacious defense on Coleman.
Keaton Grant – Keaton had a really tough day today. He took it to the hole early and had his shot blocked and never really found any rhythm at the offensive end. He also spent most of the day on the bench in foul trouble and eventually fouled out while only playing 12 minutes. He ended up with two points on 1-of-5 shooting and added two assists and a steal.
Dan Vandervieren – Dan appeared to injure his wrist or forearm during a second half scramble and his availability is in question. He ended up playing nine minutes, didn’t score and had three rebounds, a block and three turnovers. It looked like perhaps his wrist was sore before the game started and it seemed to affect Dan’s holding on to the basketball.
In summary, this was another one of those “opportunity” games that Purdue let slip through their fingers and while losing the game wasn’t a “crushing blow” to Purdue’s NCAA hopes, it certainly doesn’t help. The way I see it, if Purdue is going to get into the NCAA tournament, they have to have some “quality wins” on their resume and the opportunities they do have to get these kinds of wins are fast slipping away. It’s getting to the point where Purdue almost has to beat someone like an Indiana or Ohio State to get in the tournament and the way they are playing that doesn’t look very likely. I still think Purdue has an outside chance at getting 19 or 20 wins before the Big Ten Tournament, but as the road losses pile up, the odds continue to lengthen. I also think that the only way it’s going to happen is if the players coming off the bench start playing better. I’ve been very disappointed with the play of all three of Purdue’s main reserves and I think Purdue is going to continue to struggle unless all three of them get untracked.
Here are a few numbers for everyone to chew on. In Purdue’s six Big Ten games, they’ve given up 20, 22, 34, 27, 29 and 25 points in the first half and 45, 38, 51, 26, 40 and 46 points in the second half. In their road games, the second half scoring has been 45, 51, 40 and 46 points and opponents are averaging 45.5 points against Purdue in the second half after scoring an average of 27 points in the first half. This suggests to me that fatigue is playing a factor in Purdue’s road losses and it also suggests to me that a lack of quality depth is a lot more significant than anyone thought it might be.