Purdue Basketball: an Extremely Schizophrenic Team

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Purdue Basketball was nationally a top ten trending term on Twitter following a thrilling 83-79 home win over #9 Maryland. On “Blackout day” Mackey Arena was rocking for 40 minutes with an overflow crowd of 14,486 mostly dressed in all black.

They witnessed their home team playing like a Final 4 Four qualifier, a CBI entry and a NIT participant all within the same five to ten minute stretches. In the same half, you can see multiple Purdue teams several times. On the season, their body of work is befitting a #4 or #5 seed overall in the NCAA Tournament (as we’ve detailed here)

These Boilers are an extremely up and down bunch to say the least, and today’s effort was very paradigmatic of that. Purdue excited their fans, then scared them by blowing a double digit lead, as they had issues solving Maryland’s zone press.

“It obviously would have been devastating, with the press, to lose and to lose in that way, but we won and that’s the most important thing,” said Dakota Mathias who had a career night on the offensive end with 17 points on 7-10 shooting.

Mathias is known for his defense (well, kind of, we’re trying to be nice here) but today he nailed three treys. There were 18 NBA scouts in attendance, and they saw the Maryland Terrapins come back to tie the game with a nasty full court press.

Purdue basketball Coach Matt Painter stressed that Purdue got too passive against the zone press, and said they’ll be fine if they remain active against against the turned up pressure.

“It’s also something we worked on all week, so it’s not something we didn’t work on. We practiced against it, and talked about it, I know it didn’t look like we did, but we actually did,” Painter said quite matter of factly. 

Two questions later, he was asked if the team’s problems with the press was a personnel issue, and if so what could be done about it.

“Keep working at it, we’ve made improvements and adjustments, but we just haven’t seen it in awhile, then it comes back and we need to work on it a lot this week. Those guys need to do a better job.”

“It’s simple you get the basketball, you got to be aggressive. There’s not a whole lot you can do against the zone press, at the end I think P.J. did a really good job with it, at the end I always laughing is better than crying,” he continued.

He then ended his presser with the following statement of dry humor: “I want to talk about the press some more.” 

Said Purdue senior guard Raphael Davis postgame: “we worked on the press all week, obviously, it’s one of those things you got to keep plugging.”

That said, how do the numbers, on paper, size up for this group of bipolar ballers.

Current Rankings:

RPI- 20, SoS- 54, Sagarin- 15, KenPom- 17, AP- 20, Coaches- 19

purdue-boilermakers

Best Wins:

Maryland (RPI 10), Michigan State (RPI 15), Wisconsin (RPI 37)  Florida (RPI 31). What’s more impressive about the Purdue Boilermakers resume is that they have seven wins against teams in the RPI top 57: the three mentioned previously plus Vanderbilt, Michigan and Pittsburgh.

Currently 22-7, 10-6 in the Big Ten, they have two very winnable games left- at Nebraska and then senior day versus Wisconsin. If they finish 24-7, 12-6 in the league, you’d have to think that a #3 seed Purdue basketball team can very much still happen. With the credentials they already have, it would just take a Big Ten Tournament win or two to get them there.

purdue basketball

The Boilers are very compelling, interesting, entertaining and let’s just call a spade a spade- borderline schizophrenic in numerous games (today, Iowa, Michigan St). Maybe one reason could be the Boilermakers are like a European style basketball team, in that the bigs shoot threes. Seven footer A.J. Hammons knocked down both of his perimeter attempts today.

Hammons was asked when is the right time to shoot a three?

“Any time I’m open,” he responded dryly, “but no, seriously, it’s something I’ve been working on. My teammates always got trust in me so I had to take it.”

The 6’10” Caleb “Biggie” Swanigan, a McDonald’s All-American, is having himself a decent, albeit also inconsistent, rookie year. Biggie, shooting 28% from behind the arc on the season, is another forward who isn’t trigger shy with the three ball.

Biggie, like this Purdue basketball team as a whole, can “hypnotize” you this season. All basketball teams run hot and cold. Everybody has “an off night” sometimes and is “feeling it” on others, and it’s something you can’t look away from.

“If you can take care of the basketball and out-rebound a team like this (Maryland) how far you think you can go?” Painter asked his guys.

“I think we can go a long way, but I also think we can lose in the first round of the Big Ten Tournament, or the first round of the NCAA tournament.”

purdue-boilermakers

Paul M. Banks runs The Sports Bank.net, partnered with FOX Sports Engage Network. and News Now. Banks, a former writer for the Washington Times, currently contributes regularly to the Chicago Tribune’s RedEye publication and Bold Global.

He also consistently appears on numerous talk shows all across the country. Follow him on Twitter and Instagram

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