1/8/2024 Boilermaker Water Cooler Chat: Early Test Edition

Photo: Mark Elsner

Rants, ravings, and somewhat sensical opinions following the wild, wacky, and wide-wide world of Purdue sports.

Purdue has made things look easy so far this season, even against some really good teams.

Going on the road in the Big Ten is no easy task. Defeating a Top Ten team in college basketball, is also, not an easy task.

Other things that aren’t easy? Sticking to my New Year’s resolutions. Folding my laundry. Getting up for work at 4:30 AM. Having logical discourse with an Illinois fan on Twitter. Running a marathon. Walking on the moon. Not rolling your eyes at Maryland fans. Brain surgery. Reaching spiritual enlightenment. Winning the Masters.

These things might not be easy, but someone, somewhere has been able to do it. It sounds ridiculous, it sounds impossible, but a highly motivated individual or team, can accomplish what was once thought impossible.

As the Big Ten season re-opens its slate, Purdue has a tall order ahead of them. The league might not be as stacked as it has in years past, but this will not be easy. One week in since the resumption of B1G play, and Purdue has looked good so far.

The Games:

#1 Purdue 67, Maryland 53:

A metaphorical dogfight, Purdue never trailed in this contest, but was affected by a vicious Terrapin defense. While Maryland may have had an athletic advantage, Purdue had a “we know how to play basketball” advantage, holding the Terrapins to 33% shooting on the day. The Boilers, only shot 46% from the floor, but a robust 45% from 3.

Zach Edey led the way with 23 points and 12 rebounds. Braden Smith added 14, and Lance Jones scored 11. This was done in the face of a student-less, but a vicious alumni section who rode the Purdue’s players hard, but occasionally tastelessly.

#1 Purdue 83, #9 Illinois 78:

The Boilermakers jumped out to a big lead, and never trailed in this contest. Leading by double digits for most of the game, it took a late run and a questionable flagrant foul called in the final minutes to push this game into a respectable point spread.

Trey Kaufmann Renn had his breakout game of the season scoring 23 points. Lance Jones went for 17 points, and Braden Smith had 14. Zach Edey went for 10 points and an authoritative 15 rebounds playing just 23 minutes due to foul trouble.

Illinois Photo Gallery by Mark Elsner: https://snapsbyme.smugmug.com/Purdue-Mens-Basketball/23-24/Illinois

Break It Down:

Two games in which the final score didn’t indicate how badly Purdue beat their opponents this week. While it is nice to win multiple games, letting some late leads slip is not the best scenario for these Boilermakers. Make no mistake, however, Purdue never trailed this week. I will write that again. Purdue never trailed this week. That doesn’t mean that things were all sunshine and puppy dogs…

Against Maryland, Purdue let a poor shooting team hang around much longer than they should. Against Illinois, Purdue allowed an overmatched team surge back late. This team continues to win, that is the most important aspect, but Purdue needs to continue to develop that killer instinct. The Boilermakers have played one of the hardest schedules this year, and have a ton of impressive wins. Having Illinois down 20 points, and letting them get it back under 10 in the final seconds doesn’t scream “killers”.

Now, lets be honest… Illinois is a really good team. They present a bunch of mismatches for teams, and they continue to fight even when down. Purdue had Illinois against the ropes, but never delivered a real knockout blow.

The bottom line is, Purdue keeps winning. Even this week when Matt Painter’s squad didn’t play their best of games, they still beat a Big Ten opponent on the road, and a top 10 team at home. Knockout blow or not, the best team in the nation keeps winning.

What Went Well:

  • 46.1%: From three in the two games this week, going 18/39. This Purdue team continues to light up the nets, something that the Boilermakers struggled with last season. Also of note, Maryland uses the dreaded Wilson EVO ball, in which Purdue shot 45% from 3.
  • Double Double Doubled: Zach Edey had two double double’s this week. Against Maryland he scored 23 points and had 12 rebounds. Against Illinois Edey provided 10 points and 15 rebounds. For the week he averaged 16.5 points and 13.5 rebounds.
  • 80%: Boilers shot 80% from the free throw line in both of the games this week. This will help the Boilermakers win many games this year going forward.

Opportunities for Improvement:

  • 26: Both games this week, Purdue allowed an opposing player to score 26 points, being the high scorer for the game. Against Maryland Jahmir Young lit up the Boilers. Against Illinois, it was Marcus Domask. The recipe to beat Purdue includes a guard playing out of their minds. The Boilers need to figure out how to cool down a player when he’s starting to heat up.
  • 11>10: In an odd occurrence, Maryland shot more free throws than Purdue did… despite Maryland shooting nothing but threes and mid-range jumpers and Zach Edey being on Purdue…
  • Speaking of Edey: He shot an uncharacteristic 0/3 from the free throw line against Illinois. Yes, this is an anomaly, as Edey is averaging 78% from the line.

Big Man On Campus:

Lance Jones is this week’s BMOC. While he may not have led either game in scoring, his explosiveness was on full display. Jones averaged 14 points in the two games this week, hitting 5 threes in the two games. In his most hilarious moment of the week, Jones was getting the air-ball treatment from the Maryland fans, and proceeded to drill multiple 3s in consecutive possessions to quiet the crowd.

This is why Purdue picked up Jones. His fearlessness and explosiveness were on full display this week.

A Look Ahead:

#1 Purdue will travel to Nebraska on 1/9, in a game that absolutely terrifies me. The Boilermakers will be favorites, but if you remember, the Cornhuskers have been known to put a scare into Purdue in Lincoln. Also, this game is on Peacock! That is really, really, really… awesome news.

After Nebraska, Purdue will head home and take on the Penn State Nittany Lions. This game should not be close, as this isn’t Micah’s Penn State anymore.

Looking forward to another great week of Purdue basketball!!

Photo: Mark Elsner

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About Benjamin Kolodzinski 105 Articles
Blending the passion of a sports fan with years of media experience, Ben Kolodzinski is a unique personality for ISC Purdue. Since the 2017-18 NCAA seasons, Ben has written weekly columns for ISC, with a style that can only be described as snarky, irreverent, and often times irrelevant. A 2008 graduate from Purdue West Lafayette, Kolodzinski has worked for several local and regional media outlets. Best known for his television and radio work at Lakeshore Public Media (Lakeshore Public Television, and 89.1 The Lakeshore), Kolodzinski helped grow Northwest Indiana's only nightly news show Lakeshore News Tonight, along with The Region's only local sports shows Prep Sports Report, and Prep Football Report. As of 2022, Kolodzinski hosts Lakeshore Gamenight, a prep football radio show and cohosts Lakeshore PBS Scoreboard, a prep football TV highlight show. Kolodzinski is known, locally, for having a fun loving and gregarious personality, and for attempting to inject humor into his reporting... sometimes successfully.

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