Thursday, November 20, 2014

Boilermaker Basketball Pre-Game Primer: Grambling

Tonight the Boilers take on one of the worst teams in Division 1, really.  Here's the breakdown:

Thursday, November 20th
7pm Tipoff - Mackey Arena
BTNPlus 
Purdue vs. Grambling

Projected Starters (these are my educated guesses)
Purdue
     C     AJ Hammons          Junior          7'0''     I still think Hammons has had a much more profound impact on the first 2 games than the box score suggests. His ball movement and court vision is drastically better than last year. 
     F     Vince Edwards        Freshman    6'7''     No hiding this one, Edwards has been more statistically productive than anyone thought right out of the gate; and it's not hard to see why. He gets his own shots from rebounding, hustle, and the point-forward element he has to handle the ball. Game changer.
     F     Raphael Davis         Junior          6'5''     I still find it hard to believe RD will ever actually fall out of the rotation, but I'd be kidding myself if I didn't wonder if the starting unit would be more productive with Stephens in this spot and Mathias at the 2.
    G     Kendall Stephens     Sophomore  6'6''     Stephens has looked every bit of the nationally elite shooter he's capable of being, and that's in large part to better shot selection. Knowing that he might actually get the ball back if he passes it has been huge for Kendall.
    G     Jon Octeus                Senior          6'4''     JO continues to be solid. A defensive pest and heady rebounder, this guy was an absolute steal for Purdue and is going to be rock solid all year for the Boilers. One of these games we are going to see a bit of the scoring punch he showed at CSU.

Grambling
     F     A'Torri Shine                             Senior         6'6''
     F     Richard Freeman                       Sophomore 6'7''
     C    Lonnie McElwain                      Junior          6'9''
     G    Remond Brown                          Sophomore 6'4''
     G    Chase Cormier                           Sophomore 6'0''
Grambling is statistically one of the worst teams in America. They are giving up about 30 points more per game than they are scoring. No bueno.

Points of Percolation (these really have not changed, because I haven't seen any improvement yet)

1) Free Throws: At some point you are what the numbers say you are, but I think (and I'm hoping) that this Purdue team turns out to be a better free throw shooting team in the long run than they have been in the early stages of this year. But again, even if you are a better shooting team overall, you are what the percentage says you are. It's never going to get easier to shoot free throws than at home against non-competitive opponents.

2) More FGA for AJ: I know as I said above he was much more influential on the first 2 games than the box score suggested, but I want to see the big guy put up more shots. Not sure if it will happen tonight with Grambling's small guard lineups, but he needs to attempt at least 10 a game this year in my opinion.

3) Less Turnovers:  I know some of Purdue's turnovers have been a part of garbage time because of lopsided scores, but for today let's see if they can keep that number under 12. As the lineups begin to trim down (hopefully) the garbage time turnovers should go down as well.

Prediction:

This will not be a game. I'm looking to make sure Purdue's young guys keep their focus and don't already have their bags packed for Maui. Should be a lot of PT for the young guys in the second half, and maybe we will see the debut of the H2 jumbo set in the Boilers last game before Hawaii.

95-53 good guys.

3-0 and on to Maui!

Boiler Up. Hammer Down. Hail Purdue. 

Monday, November 17, 2014

Purdue vs. Northwestern: 1st Down

1st Down: New Goals

It's hard to overstate how much these last 2 games mean to the Purdue football program. I know I know, they have no bearing on bowl eligibility which we're already out of. But, 5-7 is a whole lot more respectable and indicative of the progress this program has made than 3-9 or even 4-8. 

At the start of the season I thought 5-7 was absolutely attainable given our schedule, and while it means running the table these last 2 weeks, I think it still is and it starts this Saturday against Northwestern.

Finishing 5-7 gives a lot of hope heading into next year, with what should be a returning starting quarterback and a host of talented young returning players on both sides of the ball. 5-7 with 3 Big Ten wins means you are very close to getting back to bowl eligibility which should be at minimum the expectation for this program every year. 5-7 means more butts in the seats at Ross Ade. 5-7 means not being an underdog in every conference game. Most of all, 5-7 means relevance.

If you end up 3-9 you still have the returning talent, but you also have an evil little thing called doubt. Doubt that what you're doing may not be the solution. Doubt that you still don't have enough horses to really make it up to the main floor of competition. Doubt that your fans are going to stop supporting you. Doubt that your coach will continue to be your coach long term.

Northwestern may have made a big statement last week in beating what used to look like a pretty good Notre Dame team, but make no mistake, they are still the same Northwestern team that put up 7 and 9 points (respectively I suppose) in back to back weeks.  If Purdue can generate some offense and get some pressure from their front 4 I think they have a pretty good shot at another conference win this week. Jbrunner and I will go more into detail about what the Boilers need to do Saturday to get that win, but know this: if this team can get to 5-7 things are looking up in West Lafayette. I am of the opinion they are anyway, but that will start to convince a few more people.

Boiler Up. Hammer Down. Hail Purdue.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Boilermaker Basketball Pre Game Primer: IUPUI

I have to apologize for missing the pre game primer for Samford, I'll try to make sure that doesn't happen again!

Now, on to in-state foe IUPUI. Here's the breakdown:

Sunday, November 16th
3pm Tipoff - Mackey Arena
BTN (the REAL one; like actually on TV)
Purdue vs. IUPUI

Projected Starters (these are my educated guesses)
Purdue
     C     AJ Hammons          Junior          7'0''     I think Hammons had a much more profound impact on the Samford game than the box score suggests. He drew defenders, kept the ball moving, and when he did attack did so with confidence and effectiveness.
     F     Vince Edwards        Freshman    6'7''     Those of you that didn't know what this guy is capable of saw it on Friday. Was one of 5 freshman nationally to have 13 points, 8 rebounds, and 2 assists; and was the only one to do so in under 20 minutes.
     F     Raphael Davis         Junior          6'5''     13 points in the opener was a solid start. Nobody really went off for Purdue which spread the minutes and the points around like a Thanksgiving feast.
    G     Kendall Stephens     Sophomore  6'6''     Stephens was locked in Friday, connecting on 3-4 from long range. He looks so much more comfortable this year knowing that he's not the only one that is capable of making an outside jumper.
    G     Jon Octeus                Senior          6'4''     JO continued to be solid. A defensive pest and heady rebounder, this guy was an absolute steal for Purdue and is going to be rock solid all year for the Boilers.

IUPUI
     F     Elijah Ray                                  Sophomore  6'6''
     F     Josh James                                 Freshman    6'9''
     G    Marcellus Barksdale                  Junior          6'5''
     G    Mason Archie                            Junior          6'5''
     G    Kufu Najee                                 Senior         6'4''
IUPUI opened their season Friday night against Indiana State. From what I heard from my ISU friends, IUPUI is solid but not anything overly intimidating. ISU won in overtime, but dominated the extra session to win by 13. Sounds like Barksdale looked like their best player.

Points of Percolation

1) Free Throws: At some point you are what the numbers say you are, but I think (and I'm hoping) that this Purdue team turns out to be a better free throw shooting team in the long run than they have been in the early stages of this year. But again, even if you are a better shooting team overall, you are what the percentage says you are. Hopefully today is an uptick from the 61.3% the Boilers shot on Friday.

2) More FGA for AJ: I know as I said above he was much more influential on Friday's game than the box score suggested, but I want to see the big guy put up more than the 5 he attempted against Samford. He needs to attempt at least 10 a game this year in my opinion.

3) Less Turnovers:  I know some of Purdue's turnovers have been a part of garbage time because of lopsided scores, but for today let's see if they can keep that number under 12. As the lineups begin to trim down (hopefully) the garbage time turnovers should go down as well.

Prediction:

Even though this is the first game against a team most people have heard of before, I don't think Purdue will have much trouble with the Jaguars. They have a first year coach and are coming off of a bad season. I'll say Purdue controls this one throughout, and AJ gets his first double double of the year.

83-58 good guys.

2-0

Boiler Up. Hammer Down. Hail Purdue. 

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Purdue Basketball 2014-15: Back to the Basics

Here we go, Purdue basketball is officially back! Most people outside the program are predicting another bottom of the barrel finish for the Boilers this year, and I get that I really do. You're looking at a last place team that lost it's 2 leading scorers and that is now built around a historically enigmatic center.

But to end the prediction and forecasting there is irresponsible and a mistake. A mistake that those who don't have the time or will to put into looking deeper are making.

Side note: want a fun party game to play with friends? Take a drink every time during this season that after AJH attempts an outside jumper that the commentator says "that's really not his game". Then drink again when he makes it. 

I'm not one of those guys that is such a homer that he always predicts a top 3 finish and 25 wins every year, I'm a realist. And while I'm one of the biggest Purdue basketball fans you will find anywhere, the reality is that this team is probably not going to win the Big Ten. They are probably not going to be in the Elite 8 or Final 4, but what they are undoubtedly going to be is better.

Better at shooting. Better at passing. Better at wanting to pass. Better in communication and chemistry. And most of all, better at playing Purdue Boilermaker basketball.

I don't know how that will translate with wins and losses, but here goes the old college try.

Purdue should open the season 3-0, although the IUPUI game could be this squad's Wofford, but for all intents and purposes I'm saying the Boilers take care of business.

Then we get to Maui, where it gets real; real fast.  I think we can and will beat Kansas State, but after that you're asking a lot if you want much more. Top 5 Arizona would probably be next, and that is not going to be a fun matchup for anyone in college hoops this year. My best guess is that Purdue ends up 2-1 in Maui, but that is a tenuous guess at best. Oh well let's go with it.

Coming home from Hawaii it doesn't get any easier for the Boilers, as they immediately host North Carolina State in the ACC/B1G challenge. Truth be told I don't know much yet about NCST but I do know they lost their best player and one of the better players in the country in TJ Warren. I'll say Purdue wins, only because it's at Mackey.

3 more cotton candy puffs come up next, and as long as we don't end up on the business end of too many Arkansas State highlights (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HsFn41nI-Vw) I think we will be ok there.

The next 2 games are tough; at Vanderbilt is a game I think on paper Purdue should win, but I'm not sure they will. And after that we go to Bankers Life for the annual Crossroads Classic game in which for some reason Purdue has not been good in at all. Tough couple games to have heading into the conference season IMO.

A win over Gardner Webb and it's gut-check time, go time, whatever time you want to call it. I think outside of Wisconsin the Big Ten is a crapshoot. I can make a pretty decent case for probably 10 teams to be anywhere from 2-12. Bottom of the league I would think will be Rutgers and Penn State.

Here goes my best guess, and I stress guess, on the Big Ten slate for Purdue.

vs. Minnesota - WIN
vs. Michigan - LOSS
at. Wisconsin - LOSS
vs. Maryland - WIN
at. Penn State - WIN
at. Illinois - LOSS
vs. Iowa - LOSS
vs. Indiana - WIN
at. Northwestern - LOSS
vs. Ohio State - WIN
at. Minnesota - LOSS
at. Rutgers - WIN
vs. Nebraska - LOSS
at. Indiana - WIN
vs. Rutgers - WIN
at. Ohio State - LOSS
at. Michigan State - LOSS
vs. Illinois - WIN

That would put Purdue at 19-12 overall and 9-9 in league play heading into the Big Ten Tournament.

I think, I think, that would be good enough for an at large berth in the NCAA tournament as I expect the Big Ten to overall be very good and very balanced top to bottom.

The biggest opportunity for Purdue this year has to be in the non-conference schedule, it's not brutally difficult but is loaded with high major games and if Purdue plays like I expect them to they are going to have a chance at putting together a really nice record on paper.

Call me crazy, but if the Boilermaker football team wins it's last 2 games like I and a lot of others think they might my preseason prediction of 5-7 is going to be right on the money.

I'm hoping for all our sakes as fans my basketball prediction is as accurate; because if it is, this team is going dancing again.

Boiler Up. Hammer Down. Hail Purdue.

Friday, November 7, 2014

Boilermaker Basketball Pregame Primer

Tonight is the final contest of Purdue's 2014 exhibition season. The last chance for this team to look at different lineups and dabble with defenses before it counts for real.

The Boilers got off to a strong start last Sunday, and they will be facing a similar situation tonight when Carroll College comes to town. Here is the rundown:

Friday, November 7th
7pm Tipoff - Mackey Arena
BTN Plus
Purdue vs. Carroll College

Projected Starters (these are my educated guesses)
Purdue
     C     AJ Hammons          Junior          7'0''     How good did he look on Sunday? Let's not put the cart before the horse here with bold statements, but I'm looking for him to again dominate an inferior opponent.   
     F     Vince Edwards        Freshman    6'7''     Edwards did in fact do a bit of everything for Purdue on Sunday, and that's going to be his role this year. He also brought the ball up a couple times which is a very interesting look.
     F     Raphael Davis         Junior          6'5''     Again, we know about his leadership capabilities, but I am still wanting to see evidence of an improved shooting stroke. He was effective and efficient on Sunday though.
    G     Kendall Stephens     Sophomore  6'6''     Stephens looked good on Sunday, 2-5 from behind the arc may not sound all that impressive, but I'll take 40% on the year in a heartbeat. What I was more impressed with was his 5 rebounds. Hopefully that can continue.
    G     Jon Octeus                Senior          6'4''     Well JO in the starting lineup happened a bit earlier than I expected, but it's not hard to see why. He's a steady ball handler and a defensive pest. Early returns are good on Purdue's 3 point guards.

Carroll College
     F     Logan Franco de Silveira           Senior         6'8''
     F     Oliver Carr                                 Freshman    6'6''
     G    Zach Taylor                                Sophomore  6'0''
     G    Zayn Kirkendoll                         Senior          6'2''
     G    Ryan Imhoff                               Freshman     6'6''
Carroll has actually played 5 games already, and this was their starting lineup in their last game. Zach Taylor led them with 29 points in that contest.


Points of Percolation

1) Feed the Bigs: AJ Hammons and Isaac Haas both looked great on Sunday. They wholly dominated a team that physically they were supposed to dominate. The guards and wing players have all commented on this being an inside-out team, so I'm looking for this duo to get more than the combined 14 FGA they got against California, PA. The only 2 of those 14 that didn't go in were 2 of the 3 attempts from behind the 3point arc by Hammons.
2) Go to Scorer: I know we won't really begin to see this answer until the games get more competitive, but who is going to be Purdue's go-to-guy when they need a bucket? Common sense would say AJH, but I am of the opinion you need someone with the capacity to handle the ball that can create a shot if needed. I can see Octeus, Scott, Edwards, or maybe even Stephens having a chance to be that person. Let's see if anyone emerges in situations like late in the shot clock, broken plays, or end of the half.
3) Defense: This zone thing is obviously going to be a work in progress, but I did like a lot of what I saw from this option on Sunday. Like Coach Painter said, there are going to be times where you just have to live with a few outside shots being made and not freak out. I want to continue seeing this scheme evolve. This may go against every zone principle I have seen or been taught, but maybe you let them get it into the high post or drive a bit? That way you are putting guards in a situation to try and score over your mammoth shot erasers in the paint instead of taking open three point jump shots. Just a thought.


Prediction:
As was the case on Sunday, this should not be a competitive game and I saw enough from the Boilers in their first outing to think that it won't be. I'm looking for AJ Hammons and Isaac Haas to again be dominant, with the latter making a few more free throws as he did in the scrimmages. Also, maybe we will get a taste of the shooting display and clinic we saw from Kendall Stephens in the 2nd scrimmage again tonight.

Purdue wins this one big time over Boiler alum Carson Cunningham's Saints.

93-57

Boiler Up. Hammer Down. Hail Purdue.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Purdue vs. Wisconsin: 4th Down

4th Down: There's Not Much To Say 

I'm going to be hated for bringing up what happened that fateful night in 2004. 

Gameday was in town. There was tremendous hype on campus for what people thought was the best team Joe Tiller had ever assembled. 

Quarterback of No. 5 Purdue - and Heisman candidate - Kyle Orton decided to keep the ball and run for a first down against ranked Wisconsin. 

There was a helmet to the football and the ball popped loose. Everything changed - "a cataclysmic turn of events", as the ESPN announcer so eloquently put it. 

Dreams were crushed. Fans were mortified. The drive home was awful for everyone, except the few who made the trek to West Lafayette from up north. 

The program dove south. 

Joe Tiller stopped caring as much about the recruiting trail. Depth became an issue. Talent started to drop. Curtis freaking Painter was Purdue's best option at quarterback. 

Danny Hope was Joe Tiller's (questionable) choice of an heir. 

The Boilermakers were drilled on homecoming in Hope's last season against Wisconsin by a 38-14 score. They were shellacked at home against Michigan (44-13) and versus Penn State (34-9).

Morgan Burke had enough - Hope was tossed.

Darrell Hazell entered with an elite resume and an enormous mess to clean up. 

And here we are...ten years later. There's still a chance to go bowling with Northwestern and struggling IU left on the schedule. 

There's a shot at redemption - to come full circle, if you will - against the same team that broke our hearts a decade before. 

Don't watch if you hate sad memories. 


Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Purdue vs. Wisconsin: 3rd Down

3rd down: What's it going to take?



What's it going to take for Purdue to have a shot Saturday against Wisconsin? I think the Boilers have to out gain the Badgers on the ground. No seriously, I really think that. 

Look, Purdue has been able to run the ball pretty well all year, with a per game rushing average of over 200 yards to back that statement up. So is it really that far fetched to think they can put up a nice total again? 

I know this hinges hugely on Purdue's ability to also slow down the Wisconsin running attack and that is certainly no small task. But, what do NFL teams do to try and slow down high powered offenses like that orchestrated by Peyton Manning? Take the air out of the ball and limit total number of possessions. 

I'm not saying it will be easy or that the Boilers will actually be able to come close to doing it, but if you're asking what this team has to do to be competitive with a team that is bigger, faster, and stronger than you; this is it. 

So Coach Shoop, Jim Bridge, and the whole team of running backs there's your task. Long, sustained, running fueled drives are how you're going to give yourselves a shot when the 4th quarter rolls around. 

Can they do it? I really don't know, but I think that's the blueprint and it's actually an area that this team has had continued success with in an otherwise roller coaster ride of a year. 

Boiler Up. Hammer Down. Hail Purdue.