Feb. 25, 2008
It's been awhile since I posted but I was waiting the outcome of the Indiana mess. I realize that this isn't the place to talk IU Basketball, but how everything was decided does impact the Big Ten race and as we know the Boilermakers are right in the middle of it.
Unless the Indiana players decide to take their disappointment to the floor, something I don't expect, we will have a three team battle to the end. At the time of this writing I'm not all too sure that Purdue will have to run the table to win or get a piece of the regular-season championship. Having said that, I do feel it is possible to get that accomplished.
The bus ride home from Bloomington was quiet as you can imagine, and it's been awhile since the trip back home was so sullen. There's no question in my mind the players felt they let one get away, and although the coaches were pleased with the effort I'm thinking by their reaction they were quite disappointed as well.
You never want to see a winning streak come to an end, but winning at IU isn't an easy proposition regardless of how talented they are.
Much has been made of us missing shots in that game, and yes, we attempted 30 more shots than the Hoosiers but perimeter fouling and missed foul shots probably played just as big a role in the defeat. It's pretty well documented you can't foul Eric Gordon, and he just got to the line too often in the last six minutes of the game. I will say this though, keeping him off the line is easier said then done.
Purdue has been good at the free throw line for most of the Big Ten season, but to be truthful its more about who's attempting the shots. Keaton Grant, Robbie Hummel, Tarrance Crump and for the most part JaJuan Johnson have been excellent. After that consistency has been lacking, and hopefully it won't bite us big time down the stretch.
Both Chris Kramer and Marcus Green have labored at the line, but it's a trade off for the other things they bring to the floor. I think both players will improve in time, and I have no worries about Kramer when the game is on the line. I think Chris will improve dramatically during the off season, let's not forget he was dealing with two surgeries last off season and I'm sure it has impacted him greatly with his overall shooting.
If Purdue, Wisconsin, and Indiana share the regular season title Purdue will get the number one seed in the conference tourney based on head to head competition. Beating Wisconsin twice would be the reason.
I've heard many complaints about not playing IU twice, but it doesn't bother me much. The schedule is what it is, so why debate it? I am not fond of the idea of adding a non conference game with Indiana, there is always the chance the two teams will meet in the post season. Very few people expected the Boilermakers to contend for the championship this year, so this item just seems more relevant than it appeared to be at the start of the year.
The bye week came at a good time in my estimation, giving the players a chance to recuperate a bit and also work on some things. I would expect the club to be ready for Minnesota and Northwestern this week. I will say this though, don't count your chickens before they hatch. Tubby Smith is a good coach and the Gophers could prove troublesome. Northwestern is just a tough match up considering its system. Should we beat both? Absolutely, but that's why they play the games.
I'm also asked a lot about the need of a big man with this team. A couple of things to note here, Matt Painter isn't going to recruit a man based on size, if said recruit doesn't fit his system. Let's remember D.J. White, the best big man in our conference, is a mature veteran. There's no reason not to believe JaJuan Johnson could be ever bit as good over time. I love his upside. If we could find, and trust me that's a big if, a defensive minded rebounding type that could run the floor I'm sure our coaching staff would take him.