© Old Gold Free Press Columnists
BOX SCORE: Purdue 80, Iowa State 83
For the first time in a long time I didn't try to listen to last night's game. For one thing, the game was a late start (past my bedtime (Grin)) and for another, I have a hard time listening to Larry Clisby’s broadcast. I like the Cliz personally, but his broadcasting style just does not suit my taste. I also thought that the Webcast would be a waste of money and from typical’s comments elsewhere, it would appear that I made a good call there as well. However, just because I didn’t listen to or watch the game doesn’t mean I can’t comment on it (VVBG). Just keep that in mind when you read my thoughts.
(1) It looks like Purdue’s Achilles heel this year is going to be the free throw line. Purdue is now shooting a miserable 67% from the free throw line for the year after five consecutive games where the free throw percentages were 59%, 63%, 69%, 55% and last night’s 64%. For the season, Purdue has only four players shooting above 70% from the free throw line (Hummel (81.4%), Crump (73.3%), Grant (71.4%) and Martin (71.1%)) and I consider 70% to be a floor for a successful free throw shooting team. I think everyone on the team needs to re-dedicate himself to shooting more free throws every day, but players that need help more than anyone else include Marcus Green (45.5%), Chris Kramer (48%) and Nemanja Calasan (59.1%). I will say that in Kramer’s case, what we are seeing is the result of not being able to work on his game this past summer because of the surgeries. Chris was a 71% free throw shooter last year and I suspect he will regain his touch before the year is over.
(2) It baffles me why Marcus Green continues to shoot 3-point shots (he was 0/2 last night). Going into the year, Marcus had launched 133 three-point attempts and made 33 for a miserable 24.8% average. This year, he’s gotten even worse with two makes in 17 attempts for an 11.8% average. It becomes even more baffling when you consider that Marcus has taken his 17 three-point shots this year in 156 minutes while a good shooter like Robbie Hummel (who is shooting 41.2% from beyond the arc) has only taken 17 shots from beyond the arc in 303 minutes. In all my years of watching Purdue play, I can't recall any player who has shot so many and made so few except for maybe Mike Robinson. Mike did have enough sense to stop shooting 3-pointers after unproductive freshman and sophomore seasons (Mike was 23/119 in his first two years and 4/21 in his last two), and I sure hope Marcus gets the same message soon.
(3) I think we have all been kidding ourselves that this year’s team was going to be good enough to make the NCAA Tournament. When you consider all the turnover in personnel the last two years (other than Bobby Riddell, Marcus Green is the only player on this year’s roster to play even one minute in the 2005/06 season) and the fact that Purdue’s best returning player and emotional leader (Gordon Watt) was dismissed from the team just weeks before the season was to start, we all must have been under the influence of drugs to even think such a thing was possible. I know I was drinking the Kool-Aid myself. I think we forgot that winning college basketball games is hard and that in most cases the learning curve is too steep for a group of young players to overcome no matter how talented they are individually.
(4) As much as these close losses hurt, I do believe that they will serve as good motivation for the players. I think they don’t like losing and I think they have the mental toughness to fight through these tough times and improve their games. I do know that this adversity will either bring them closer together or it will create divisions. I’m betting it will bring them closer together and that we’ll start to see some improvement soon.