Rants, ravings, and somewhat sensical opinions following the wild, wacky, and wide-wide world of Purdue sports.
You ever had one of those weeks? Where everything kicks you in the rear?
You know the type… where you get held over at work. Something goes wrong. It is seemingly never ending. You get metaphorically gut punched a few times. You burn the garlic bread immediately prior to your pasta dinner, that you made in a rush, because you have no time to prepare something that required more effort than pasta…
That week. The week where you’re just exhausted. Yeah, Purdue just finished that week. Hell, two weeks.
In the last 14 days, your beloved Boilermakers have played 6 games. I was a communication major… but that math doesn’t seem too difficult, even for a guy like me. Not much time for practice or rest.
A tough schedule, piled on by the ingenious decision by Kevin Warren’s Big Ten to cram in an additional game into an already filled week, led to a murderers row of fatigue riddled basketball. Thanks Kevin Warren! You’re doing really great!
Purdue ended up going 5 and 1 in this stretch, in portions playing some of their best basketball of the season. Other portions, however, some of the worst.
When you’re in the midst of a tough stretch, for some reason I think about the classic movie, Jaws. For the uninitiated, the drunken crew of the “Orca” fishing boat was searching for the killer shark. They sing the following sea shanty, about traveling the hard road, and being exhausted.
Show me the way to go home,“Show Me the Way to Go Home”, Irving King, 1925
I’m tired and I want to go to bed,
Cuz I had a little drink about an hour ago,
And it’s gone right to me head,
No matter where I roam,
On land or sea or foam,
You will always hear me singing this song,
Show me the way to go home.
Sounds like a pretty fair description of a battle hardened, and fatigued Boilermaker squad to me…
#13 Illinois 68, #3 Purdue 84: Purdue started slow, but surged late, beating down the fighting Illini in the second half. Jaden Ivey scored a game high 26, with Zach Edey adding 13, and Trevion Williams adding 10. This win brought Purdue back into a first place tie in the B1G, and appeared to be the biggest win of the season.
#3 Purdue 58, Michigan 82: I nearly attended this game. Tickets were cheap, and I could’ve driven from work and gotten to Ann Arbor in time. Glad I didn’t. Purdue went piddle-wee-wee in their big boy undies, and got smoked out of the building. Sure, Jaden Ivey scored 18 points… but the Boilers were never really in it, particularly in the second half. This was an awful showing, but an example of fatigue from the schedule. This ended up being the worst performance from the Boilermakers in the last few seasons, as the Boilermakers relinquish first place in the conference. Likewise, Purdue Twitter went ape-poopy, turning on each other following the game. The fiercely loyal Boiler fans went crazy. “Beware” some of the silliest Twitterers said of other Purdue fans. Others abandoned ship. Many cried themselves to sleep.
Maryland 61, #3 Purdue 62: Purdue started slowly, and continued to play uninspired, fatigued riddled basketball, against an overmatched and short-staffed Maryland team. For 3/4 of the game, Purdue looked disinterested. Luckily, in the last 10 minutes, Purdue surged back, after realizing that they’re the better team. They hit shots, got stops, and survived a suddenly influential Bo Boroski led officiating crew to hold off the Terrapins. Purdue was beaten soundly for 30 minutes of this game, and absolutely stole one here.
What Went Well:
- Jaden Ivey: Is the best player on the floor no matter who Purdue is playing. Strong performances against Illinois and Michigan showed that he can still fill up the stat sheets. Against Maryland, he actually played poorly, but sparked the run leading to a Purdue victory.
- Trevion Williams: Has seen his minutes diminish, but he has risen to the occasion when needed. A savvy player by nature, he has shown toughness and grit, particularly late in the Maryland game. Purdue is spoiled to be able to bring an All American off of the bench, and his tough rebounds have proven incredibly valuable for the Boilers.
- Tough as leather: Purdue has been battered the last few weeks. Lest we forget that Purdue won 5 of 6 games in this screech, it is an incredibly important statistic. Purdue is still in excellent position, despite getting beaten by the Wolverines.
Opportunities for Improvement:
- Defense: Was trying to move back in, at least until the Michigan game. Hope was growing that this team was turning the corner defensively, but, the Michigan game, and 30 minutes of the Maryland game showed that is not the case.
- There is a lid on the hoop: Purdue has been cold from deep the past few games, which is a huge portion of the offensive game plan. When shots are not falling, Purdue has struggled. Luckily the shots began to fall in the second half against Maryland, showing that, perhaps, an uptick is to be expected.
- We need to talk about officiating: I have made a concentrated effort to lessen my criticism of Big Ten officiating this season (At least in my columns. Not on Twitter, obviously.). Something has to be said at this point. The officiating in the Big Ten is incredibly inconsistent, to the point where it directly affects play. Abhorrent. Inept. From half to half, or even media timeout to media timeout, there is no consistency to the calls being made. When the calls are inconsistent, players can not adapt to how an official is manipulating the game. It is a crap-shoot every game in the Big Ten, where you NEVER know what to expect. Want to know why the Big Ten hasn’t won a national championship in 20 years? The conference’s horrendous officiating. Teams get used to a certain style, then meet up with actually competent officials in the Big Dance, and have no idea how to react. The Big Ten is conditioning players to be ineffective. These officials must be held accountable for their ineptitude.
Big Man on Campus:
While Purdue lost a game this week, the two they did win were because of the play of one man… Jaden Ivey. Without his presence, Purdue could’ve lost all three this week. 22 points in the 2nd half against Illinois, 18 against Michigan, and 11 points in the decisive run in the second half against Maryland, helped lead Purdue to victory.
A Look Ahead:
Calm down, you Purdue lunatics. Purdue is still 22-4 on the season, and still has a chance at a Big Ten championship, a Top 1 or 2 seed in the big dance, and a chance at a very special end to this season.
Shockingly, Purdue will have -MORE- than one day rest in between their next few games, as they will go on the road to Northwestern on 2/16, and then back home against Rutgers on 2/20. Purdue should be favorites in both games, but don’t let that fool you.
Northwestern has upset some of the best teams in the B1G this season, and Rutgers has won three straight games against ranked opponents plus 4 straight against Purdue. These games are absolutely not gimmies. Purdue needs to keep winning to keep pace in the B1G, and keep themselves in competition for a potential 1 seed.
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