© Old Gold Free Press Columnists
BOX SCORE: Purdue 66, Lipscomb 62
As I watched the game last night, two words came to mind. Those two words were “growing pains”. With that in mind, I was reminded that someone once said: “The great artist is the man who most obviously succeeds in turning his pains to advantage, in letting suffering deepen his understanding and sensibility, in growing through his pains.” If that is true (and I think it is), last night’s game against Lipscomb is no doubt only the first of many games this year that this team will experience on their way to better things. The thing I liked most about the game last night was that despite some serious adversity (falling behind early, not being able to hit shots and an opponent who shot the ball unbelievably well in the first half), this team still found a way to win.
As for the game itself, Purdue got off to a slow start and Lipscomb was able to forge an early lead (8-6) behind some torrid 3-point shooting. From here, Purdue gained their only two leads of the first half (9-8 after a Martin 3-pointer and 11-10 after a Martin offensive rebound). After that, Lipscomb essentially controlled the remaining 15 minutes of the half with excellent perimeter shooting and by taking advantage of numerous defensive lapses (failing to switch, getting beat on dribble penetration and getting beat on “back-doors”). Their biggest lead was 37-27 with about 2 ˝ minutes to go in the half before steals on 3 consecutive possessions (1 by Grant, 2 by Kramer) allowed Purdue to get back in the game. Lipscomb hit a big 3-pointer with about 40 seconds to go in the half to take the lead back up to 7, but Scott Martin rebounded a missed 3-pointer by E’Twaun Moore and converted with less than 10 seconds to go and the half ended with Lipscomb up 40-35. The interesting thing about the first half was that Lipscomb shot 64% (16 0f 25 including 8 of 9 from 3-point range) and yet only led by 5 because Purdue had forced 13 turnovers (9 of them Purdue steals) and picked up 15 offensive rebounds. I remember thinking that Purdue was very, very lucky the score wasn’t a lot worse.
The second half was a completely different story as Purdue’s defense finally took over and basically shut down Lipscomb’s offense for almost the entire half. Gone were the uncontested 3-pointers and defensive lapses that plagued the first half effort and if Purdue hadn’t struggled so badly against a Lipscomb 2-3 zone, they would have won going away. Instead they relied on some clutch free throws from Chris Kramer, JaJuan Johnson and Robbie Hummel to keep them in the game and then finally clinched the game on a Keaton Grant 3-pointer with about 40 seconds to go followed by 2 clutch free throws from Scott Martin with 7 seconds to go.
Individual player comments:
Tarrance Crump – I was surprised when I looked at the box score and saw that Tarrance had only played 8 minutes (4 minutes in each half). Whatever the reason (or reasons) for his limited play, Tarrance made the best of them by scoring 8 points and adding an assist (a super feed to Scott Martin for a lay-up) and no turnovers. I do think Tarrance was getting beaten by his man off the dribble and I thought at least one of his 3-point shots was ill-advised, but all in all I think he played reasonably well.
Bobby Riddell – Bobby got in the game for about 4 minutes in the 2nd half and didn’t dent the box score except for an assist to JaJuan Johnson. Quite honestly I’m not sure why he was playing and Tarrance Crump was sitting, but I trust Matt Painter’s judgment and I’m confident that whatever the reasons were, they were good ones.
Marcus Green – Like Tarrance, Marcus played 8 minutes. During this time he missed both his shots but he did add 2 rebounds, a blocked shot and a turnover. I think he was also on the court for Lipscomb’s last possession (along with Hummel, Kramer, Grant and Martin) so it’s apparent that Matt Painter has a great amount of confidence in Marcus’s defensive skills. I kind of feel for Marcus because he’s sort of “stuck” behind Chris Kramer in the rotation and it’s pretty obvious that Chris is such a key performer for Purdue, Marcus’s opportunities are going to be limited.
Keaton Grant – Keaton started and played 33 minutes despite some leg pain that had him visibly hobbling the last few minutes. Despite his physical problems, Keaton made several key defensive plays during the game (including a steal and deflection that Robbie Hummel turned into a break-away dunk with about 5 minutes left that gave Purdue a 3 point lead) and he also hit the game’s biggest shot (a 3-pointer with less than a minute to go that gave Purdue a 64-62 lead). He finished with 5 points, 2 rebounds, 5 steals, 1 assist and 1 turnover for a nice night’s work in his first game back from suspension.
Chris Kramer – It’s hard to relate to everyone just how important Chris Kramer is to this basketball team. He is such a tough, hard-nosed competitor that I think sometimes his leadership skills aren’t noticed, but there’s no question that Chris has become the leader of this team and it is his hustle, intensity and desire that is rubbing off on his teammates and helping them to understand how hard you have to play to be successful at the Division I level. Against Lipscomb he had 9 points, 3 rebounds, 4 assists 4 steals, 2 blocks and a single turnover in 30 minutes of controlled aggressiveness. It seems like whenever Purdue needs a lift, Chris is there to provide one and I just hope his legs hold up for the entire season.
Robbie Hummel – I thought Robbie played an excellent game last night, for me, he’s fast becoming the one player Purdue has other than Chris Kramer that needs to be on the floor. Against Lipscomb, he had 13 points, 8 rebounds, 3 assists, 1 block, 2 steals and 2 turnovers in 35 minutes of action. I think he’s Purdue’s best (most reliable) free throw shooter and he’s big enough and mobile enough that he presents some real match-up problems for any team that chooses to defend Purdue with a man-to-man defense. I’m looking forward to watching this young man develop.
JaJuan Johnson – JaJuan struggled a little bit with his shooting in this game as he missed a few shots from in close that he would normally make and I also thought he forced a couple of shots that he probably shouldn’t have taken. Still, without Calasan, he’s being forced to play a role that doesn’t maximize the combination of agility and size that he brings to the table and I’m anxious to see if Matt Painter and his staff try to find ways to get both he and Nemanja into the game at the same time.
Scott Martin – I thought Scott’s contribution off the bench was the key to Purdue winning this game. He played 32 minutes, led the team in scoring (16 points) and added 6 rebounds, 3 steals and a single turnover in a very, very good effort. I think his minutes are bound to go down a little with Calasan’s return (or should I say arrival (Grin)) but so will almost everyone else’s that played 30 or more minutes against Lipscomb.
E’Twaun Moore – Of the 4 freshmen, the one that seems to be having the most difficulty adapting to the speed of the college game is E’Twaun. I’m not sure why, but it looks to me like E’Twaun is rushing his shots and not letting the game just come to him. Still, it is way too early in the season to be passing judgment and I think it’s only a matter of time before E’Twaun has a game that will show everyone just how talented he is. Last night, even though his shooting was off (3 of 12 including 1 of 5 from beyond the arc), he still had 7 rebounds and 7 points in 23 minutes, so his contributions were a significant part of Purdue’s win.
Overall, I thought Purdue played poorly in this game. If I was passing out grades, I’d give them high marks for effort ( there was one possession in the first half where I counted 4 Purdue players going to the floor after a loose ball that was being batted around), but below average marks for execution. Still, I think it’s important for everyone not to panic. This is a young team that is just getting all its players back (Calasan will play his first minutes of the season this Saturday and Grant played his first minutes of the season against Lipscomb). The starting line-up against Lipscomb featured 3 freshmen and 2 sophomores and I think it’s going to take time for everyone to get on the same page both offensively and defensively. Despite the close nature of last night’s game, I believe this team has a chance to be pretty good by the time the Big 10 season rolls around. Purdue is short on experience, but they appear to be long on toughness, effort and ability and I think that once the “growing pains” diminish, we fans are going to see a much different team than we saw last night.