© Old Gold Free Press Columnists
If you’ve been reading these reports for the last few years, you know that I always have a tough time writing them after a Purdue loss. Writing this one tonight after the game against Indiana is particularly difficult because I believe that Purdue wasted a perfect opportunity to seize control of the Big 10 race and give themselves an excellent chance to win their first Big 10 Championship since 1996. If you look at the statistics during Purdue’s last 11 Big 10 games (all wins), you’ll see that Purdue wasn’t shooting the ball great from the field (43.7%), but they were shooting the ball exceptionally well from the perimeter (39.3%) and they were also doing pretty well from the free throw line (73.5%). All you need to know about tonight’s game is that Purdue shot 34.7% from the field including 24.1% (7 of 29) from beyond the arc and were a miserable 11 of 21 (52.7%) from the free throw line. I think part of the problem was caused by Purdue shooting the ball too quickly, but in truth, Purdue missed a number of wide open shots that they normally make. Purdue also had a number of shots blocked and Indiana deserves some credit for making some good defensive plays when it looked like Purdue was in good position to score.
If you recall my write-up after the Northwestern game, I said at the time that I thought this game would be decided by the play of someone other than Eric Gordon or D.J. White for Indiana or any one of Purdue’s main players; someone such as Marcus Green or Lance Stemler for example. Unfortunately, the role players who had the biggest impact on the game were both from Indiana and the two guys who I thought killed Purdue were Armon Bassett (16 points including 4 of 4 from beyond the arc and 8 rebounds) and walk-on Kyle Taber who scored 6 points on 3 of 3 shooting and pulled down 5 rebounds and had 2 assists in 21 minutes of play. In Basset’s case, I thought Purdue did a poor job of finding him in the open floor and in Taber’s case, I thought Purdue just ignored him too much.
On the positive side, I think Purdue can find some solace in the turnover numbers. Purdue only had 5 turnovers on the night and that represents a season low. Indiana, on the other hand had 23 turnovers and I thought Purdue’s defense was well prepared for the kinds of things Indiana tries to do offensively. The problem was that Purdue’s poor shooting kept them from taking advantage of all the opportunities the turnovers presented. I’ll say this, if Purdue and Indiana meet again, I like Purdue’s chances if the turnover numbers are the same as they were in this game.
Tarrance Crump – Man, I just don’t know what’s the matter with Tarrance. Last year, Tarrance averaged 5.6 ppg and had 61 assists and only 51 turnovers. He wasn’t a great player, but he wasn’t a liability either. Going into the season, I honestly thought that Tarrance would be a valuable member of this year’s team and contribute at least as much as he did last year. He’s a great kid who has worked hard to overcome the problems he had off the floor prior to the 2005-06 season and I was hoping his hard work would pay off for him. However, since Big 10 play began, Tarrance is averaging a whopping 2.0 ppg and has 11 assists and 17 turnovers in 14 games. It’s almost gotten to the point where I’d rather see Bobby Riddell get his minutes because he sure hasn’t done anything of note lately. Tonight, he played only 5 minutes and missed his only shot and pulled down a single rebound.
Nemanja Calasan – Nemanja continued to struggle in tonight’s game. He had some breakdowns defensively and his shooting continues to slump. He’s now just 5 of his last 25 in the past 5 games and if Purdue is going to have any kind of chance to do anything in March, Nemanja needs to get going again. He ended the night with only 3 points on 1 of 6 shooting including 2 misses from 3-point range on looks that were as wide open as they could possibly be. He did add 3 rebounds, steal and a turnover in 15 minutes of play.
Marcus Green – I didn’t think Marcus played particularly well tonight. He took one 3-pointer about 5 seconds into the shot clock late in the game when Purdue was trying desperately to come back and he got over-aggressive playing defense on Eric Gordon about 50 feet from the basket and gave him 2 free throws. Those are both plays that you would expect a 3 year veteran not to make. Marcus ended up scoring 1 point and adding 2 rebounds, 2 assists, 2 steals and 1 turnover in 17 minutes of play. Marcus is a better player than he’s shown lately, and he’s another guy that needs to pick it up if Purdue is to have any chance to do anything in March.
Keaton Grant – I thought Keaton played just OK tonight. He had some trouble staying with Bassett and I thought he committed a couple of fouls out of frustration. Because of his foul trouble, he ended up paying only 26 minutes and while he scored 10 points, he was only 4 of 13 from the field including 2 of 6 from beyond the arc. He did add 2 rebounds, 1 assist and a steal to go with no turnovers. but Keaton did not have one of his better games tonight.
Chris Kramer – I thought Chris did a credible job on Gordon. Gordon led all scorers with 22 points, but he was only 4 of 12 from the field and he committed 5 turnovers and I think Chris did about as well as can be expected against him. Chris did have one bad foul fairly late in the 2nd half when he bumped Gordon late in the shot clock. For the game, Chris scored 8 points and added 7 rebounds, 5 assists, 3 steals and only 1 turnover in 36 minutes of play before fouling out.
Robbie Hummel – Robbie had a rough first half (I think he only had 2 points at the half), but he got going in the 2nd half and finished with 17 points, 6 rebounds, 2 blocks, 4 steals and 2 turnovers in 33 minutes of play. In truth, Indiana does not have anyone who can guard Robbie and he needs to realize that he needs to be more aggressive offensively when he has such an obvious mismatch. I think Coach Painter must have gotten on him at half-time, because he was much more aggressive in the 2nd half and it showed.
JaJuan Johnson – I thought JaJuan held his own tonight when he was in there. He got into foul trouble and played only 10 minutes, but in those 10 minutes he managed 6 points, 2 rebounds and a steal and that’s exactly the kind of production Purdue needs from JaJuan for them to be successful. I’d like to see JaJuan not foul as much as he did tonight, but he was going against the premier big guy in the conference in D.J. White and I thought for a freshman he did OK.
Scott Martin – Scott had a wonderful chance for a big game tonight. He was active offensively and was wide-open numerous times for shots that he should knock down most of the time. Unfortunately, he just wasn’t hitting tonight and while he finished with 12 points (his highest output since Big 10 play began); he was only 5 of 13 from the field including 1 of 5 from 3-point range. Scott came into the game shooting 74.4% from the free throw line, but tonight he was just 1 of 6 and most of his misses came in the 2nd half when Purdue was desperately trying to close the gap. In addition to his 12 points, Scott has 3 rebounds, 1 assist, 2 steals and zero turnovers in 22 minutes of play. I will also say it was encouraging to see Scott playing more like he was playing early in the year and I think it will help Purdue a lot if he can keep it up.
E’Twaun Moore – E’Twaun had some tough luck shooting the ball tonight. I thought Ellis did a pretty good job on him, but E’Twaun had several runners in the lane that he couldn’t get to go down including 2missed lay-ups early in the 2nd half that really hurt. Still, he’s been shooting the ball so well of late; he was probably due for an off night. He ended the night with 11 points, but he was only 3 of 15 from the field including 1 of 7 from beyond the arc and he added 2 rebounds, 1 assist and zero turnovers in 36 minutes of play. He also did a pretty good job on Ellis defensively (Ellis had 7 points, no assists and 6 turnovers in 27 minutes).
While tonight’s defeat was disappointing, it is clearly not the end of the world for this team. Indiana is a good team and I thought they shot the ball well tonight and they did a good job of taking the ball right at Purdue and getting to the free throw line. Purdue will still do no worse than a tie for the Big 10 Title if they win out and they are certainly capable of doing that. Indiana faces a road game against MSU and Wisconsin still has to play Illinois and OSU on the road, so if Purdue did win out, I’d like their chances of winning it outright. Of course, winning out will be no easy task, but my point is that there is no reason for anyone to mope about tonight’s outcome because Purdue still controls their own destiny. Purdue has 7 days off before their next game against Minnesota in Mackey and I think the break comes at a good time for this time. Hopefully, the time off will allow everyone some time to re-charge their batteries for the stretch run and Purdue will finish the season on a positive note.