Your weekly Purdue Men’s Basketball snark, and other snidbits from around the Boilermaker Universe.
We have arrived, fellow Boilermakers. That goofy week in between Christmas and New Years, in which little is accomplished, has now arrived. Sandwiched between two holiday weekends, motivation is hard to come by.
The “new year, new me” phenomenon starts next week. I, like many, have gained a few (dozen) pounds since COVID became a thing. I have taken pride in supporting my local restaurants and liquor stores in an effort to keep the local economy buzzing in these uncertain times. I’m doing my part! Although I have attempted to work out regularly, it is a losing battle. The allure of glazed hams, frosted sugar cookies, prepackaged sausage/cheese dishes, and other calorie filled monstrosities have allowed my already borderline physique to reach critical mass.
Something happens, this time of year, and it ends up with me being lazy, gaining that holiday sluggishness. It is only natural.
For a basketball team, however, this is the time of year that you are rounding into shape. I don’t mean ’round’ literally, I mean that at this point of the season, the team knows what they can accomplish.
Now is not the time for Purdue to slide into the doughy holiday season. Nope. Purdue continues to face their toughest tests and needs to be in tip-top shape.
Like any of us who need to lose that holiday spare tire, our work is cut out for us. Long road ahead. Matty Painter’s squad has been traveling that road, and it is going to continue to be rough.
On 12/22 Purdue traveled to Iowa City to take on the highly ranked Iowa Hawkeyes. Presumptive NPOY and America’s sweetheart, Luka Garza had his signature good game, piling in 22 points to lead all scorers. The All-American, aided a lack luster Purdue offense, and ‘generous’ officiating, added up to a 70-55 victory for the Hawkeyes.
On 12/25 Purdue hosted the Maryland Terrapins in a game that spiked my blood pressure. Bolstered by Brandon Newman’s 17 points, Purdue took a huge lead early, only to nearly blow it by the end of the game. The young Purdue squad held on to claim the victory 73-70.
What Went Well:
- They’re growing up so fast…: Brandon Newman, Jaden Ivey, Mason Gillis, and Zach Edey all made tremendous impacts on these games. In one way or another, these freshmen have imposed their will. Whether it be explosive offensive plays, hustle and grit, clutch shots, or filling in for long spells of time, these young men can bring it.
- The Grady Eifert, Gritty Effort Award: Goes to Mason Gillis. His hustle and desire are immediately evident in his gameplay. Whether it be chasing down a rebound, making that tough foul, or standing up for his teammates, Gillis is going to be a huge part of what makes Purdue great the next few years.
- 19: Minutes played for Zach Edey against Maryland. This was in forced playing time due to Trevion Williams being in and out of the lineup for foul concerns. This is the sweet spot for big Zach. If he can get production in this timeframe (6 pts, 7 reb) then Purdue has a reliable spell for Williams.
Photo Credit: Mark Elsner
Opportunities for Improvement:
- Lets not fall asleep, please…: Against Maryland, Purdue held a comfortable fifteen (15) point lead late in the 1st half. Again, as has been the custom of the Boilermaker, this young team decided to go piddle paddle in their pants, and allowed that lead to dwindle down to 0 with less than a minute to go. This team is needing that killer to finish the game, and stamp out any fight that the opponent has. These types of slow boil, blood pressure events will continue until that killer emerges.
- Rebounds…: are a general barometer for how successful a Matt Painter team will be. Historically, Purdue has out rebounded their opponents for most games. Against Iowa, however, Purdue was out rebounded by the Hawkeyes, 37-35. Not only was Purdue out manned, they were also out rebounded.
- Oh, and they were also…: out scored from the line. Purdue lost by 15 to Iowa. The Hawkeyes shot 11 more free throws than Purdue did. The Boilermakers only shot 3 for the game, never once making 1&1 in the entire 40 minutes. Whether or not Iowa benefitted from the “breathe on Garza and you will be called for a foul” style of officiating, Purdue only shooting 3 free throws is a problem. The Boilers have two dominant post players in Williams and Edey. Simply by existing and imposing their will, they should get to the line multiple times in a contest. This is a combination of inept officiating and inept offensive execution on Purdue’s behalf.
Big Man On Campus:
Brandon Newman has started to blossom into a B1G star. Scoring 11 against Iowa, Newman followed that up by putting up 17 against Maryland. Points aren’t the only part of the story. Newman had 8 rebounds against Iowa, which is a huge boost from a guard. Newman’s aggression on offense will continue to be a tremendous asset for this team, as we are only now starting to see the tip of the iceberg which is Newman’s talent.
Luka Garza. Luka Garza. Luka Garza. Luka Garza. Luka Garza. Luka Garza. Luka Garza. Luka Garza. Luka Garza. Luka Garza. Luka Garza. Luka Garza. Luka Garza. Luka Garza. Luka Garza. Luka Garza. Luka Garza. Luka Garza. Luka Garza. Luka Garza. Luka Garza. Luka Garza. Luka Garza. Luka Garza.
I am under the impression that any time a media member mentions Luka Garza’s name then they will receive some sort of monetary compensation. I fully admit that Luka Garza is a tremendous player, and that he deserves adulation. How much, is too much? I have watched games (on the usual sports networks) that have highlighted Luka Garza in depth at halftime. These games did not have Luka Garza even playing in them. It is a constant Luka Garza Love Fest, and it is getting old. Is he the most impressive player in the Big Ten? Probably. Does he deserve a pat on the back? Yes. Does he deserve a multi-minute slobber-fest every halftime in games that he isn’t playing in? Absolutely not. If I am watching Illinois vs Indiana, I don’t need a Luka Garza documentary.
Also, I have mentioned Luka Garza 32 times. That means that I have garnered 32 Garza Credits. Do the powers that be cut me a check? Is there a cash equivalent? I need to know.
A Look Ahead:
The stiff competition continues this week as Purdue will be an underdog in both of their games on the road.
On 12/29 Purdue heads to New Jersey to take on #11 Rutgers. Last year, Rutgers clawed, slapped, and flexed their way all over Purdue. Will it continue this year? Rutgers is the type of team that gives Purdue fits. Tremendously athletic, aggressive, and relentless.
On 1/2 Purdue will play their first game of 2021 against the #18 Fighting Illini. On paper, Illinois is absolutely one of, if not the best team in the Big Ten. However, their production thus far hasn’t matched their talent level.
This is a week that can absolutely make or break Purdue. Two tough, highly ranked teams, and a Purdue squad that is trying to make something of themselves. Tough sledding.
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