Thursday, January 18, 2007
Funny how change changes your perspective. Back in the day, when the most awesome looking coach ever (Gene Keady) was patrolling the sidelines, everybody would have been ecstatic to sneak out a five point victory over Purdon't. But when you win at home (a lot), oftentimes by comfortable margins, you start to expect a beatdown when you play a home game against a team, that, I don't know, has lost 27(!!) straight road games.
From that perspective, the performance of the UW men's basketball Badgers, in beating Purdue 69-64 last night, was disappointing. Our two leading scores shot 27% from the floor, missing nineteen total shots, and shot a middling 65% on free throws. The team also shot a woeful 17% on their three-pointers, many of which were solid looks since Purdue was sagging heavily towards Tucker. Given those statistics, winning the game was actually an impressive accomplishment. It depended in large part on the oft-underappreciated Chappell, who played solid and frustrating defense on Carl Landry and started knocking down jump shots after realizing he was being purposely left open by Purdon't; and Flowers, who chased Purdon't's second leading scorer, Teague, all over the floor, and made some smart and/or impressive drives to the basket. In contrast to Tucker/Taylor, Chappell/Flowers shot 69% from the floor, 80% from the line, scored a total of 28 points, gathered 13 rebounds, laid out four assists (all from Chappell, often on high-low passes), and garnered 2 steals. A fine performance from those two, who must have grown concerned about the perfomance of T/T as the game inched along and the bricks piled up.
- Carl Landry is an excellent college player, but will probably not make it in the NBA. He's got a great power forward's game-- great strength, good post moves, a fine turn-around from within 15 feet, a decent mid-range jump-shot. But athletic 6'10" forwards like Robert Horry or P.J. Brown will make him look bad in the league. Chances are better he ends up in Europe.
- Purdue is not a bad team-- if they win a few road games this season they could make the tournament. And even though Teague and Landry are seniors, the team's future looks bright: most other guys are underclassmen, and bizarrely, Purdue has the 7th ranked recruiting class in the country coming in next season (according to Rivals.com). That puts them ahead of Duke! Painter looks to be a solid in-game coach as well. The Makers of Large Containers in which Water is Boiled look like a tough out for years to come.
- A big reason for the close game was the play of Gordon Watt, number one for Purdue, a redshirt sophmore transfer from Boston College. He repeatedly owned Butch, facing him up and driving right by him for slashing scores. (See photo above.) And Watt is a 6'6" small forward, making you wonder why the hell was Butch guarding him in the first place. Center guarding Small Forward, unless in the post, equals a poor defensive match-up. When Landry or the Hoft guarded him, he got shut down. But him on Butch was a total mismatch, and it kept happening again and again. I figured that this was due to Butch not being able to guard the elder Landry either (thus forcing him to guard Watt), and Landry the First's guy not wanting to leave him to help Butch out when Watt started driving. Since Butch played decently on offense, maybe Bo thought it was worthwhile to have him in there, overall. That wasn't the case-- Watt scored 18, the majority of which came against Butch.
- Is Chappell our only decent low-post defender? Besides drawing a charge on Landry, Stiemsma did not look particularly good against him (a bit slow of foot), and they didn't even seem to want Butch to try. If that's the case, it'll be really funny if we start getting beat up in the low-post again (like in our Elite Eight year two seasons ago) after Chappell graduates, since no one appreciates Chappell now. Is it because of the sleepy-eyed, "where's the intensity?" look?
- You'd think we could have gone to the bench a bit more. We only played 9 guys last night-- Pop Hughes and Gullickson didn't see any time, and Bohannon and Stiemsma played minimal minutes. With Tucker and Taylor struggling, why not give the other guys some more time? Kam played the ENTIRE GAME, and shot 0-6 from 3-point land. I don't know if those things are related (especially since he missed most of the 3's early in the game), but why not give Bohannon and Hughes more minutes and let Kam get his legs back? Bo seems to choke up on his bench as the year progresses, playing the starters and main bench guys more. It's hard to complain about the results. But with our team being as deep as it is, I don't see the point in letting your leaders get exhausted. Give 'em a rest and let the younger guys contribute.
On Saturday-- Illinois deep in the heart of Fib-dom. Weber has given us trouble since he's been there (has Bo beaten him more than once?), and Illinois is coming off a serious bludgeoning of the 'Sota. They're still having some health problems, but they're a solid team. Pruitt is a good low-post scorer, Smith and McBride are streaky outside shooters, Frazier (if he can play-- he has a groin problem) is a decent point, Carter is a long small forward, and Randle is actually a very talented player (he was injured for the first portion of the season). We can definitely lose this game, especially if we shoot as poorly as we did against Purdon't. I hope the guys are rested up for this one. Maybe we can buy the team a hyperbaric chamber?