Tag Archives: Purdue Boilermakers

Purdue at Maryland: A Moral Victory for the Boilermakers?

Purdue entered their game this past weekend against #4 Maryland with something to prove. The Boilermakers hadn’t beaten a ranked team this season, and were looking to make a statement by winning on the road against the Terrapins.

Now that the results are in, let’s take a look at what went down in College Park on Saturday, and evaluate where Purdue’s 72-61 loss to Maryland leaves them in the Big Ten race, as well as the national picture.

Maryland entered this game with an impressive resume, including a 14-0 conference record at home since joining the Big Ten, and an overall 25-game home winning streak.

For the first 34 minutes of game action, however, the Boilermakers were making a case that they belong. Purdue and Maryland were engaged in a back-and-forth contest that the Boilers were leading 51-47 with six minutes remaining. Purdue was doing a nice job on the interior, led by centers A.J. Hammons and Isaac Haas, and the Boilermakers’ defense was holding a potent Maryland offense in check.

At this point in the contest, Maryland increased their defensive intensity, particularly on the inside. Purdue was unable to get the ball to their post players, and the Boilers also committed several turnovers as they tried in vein to get the ball inside to Hammons or Haas.

Maryland’s defensive tactics left Purdue with no choice but to fire away from the outside, and the results were disastrous. Purdue’s perimeter players couldn’t make shots all game long (3-25 from three-point range), but they were particularly ineffective in those last six minutes. The Terrapins put Purdue away with a 25-10 run to end the game, spoiling the upset hopes of the Boilermakers.

Some say there is no such thing as a “moral victory,” but even if that is the case, some losses are better than others. In the case of Purdue’s defeat at hands of Maryland, they showed they can compete on the road with one of the best teams in the country. On the flip side, they once again failed in crunch time against a quality opponent.

The jury is still out on how the Boilermakers stack up against the best of the Big Ten and the nation, but in order to move from a team just outside that top tier to being considered one of the “elite” teams, Purdue is simply going to have to beat one or more of those quality opponents.

In order for this to happen, Purdue’s outside shooting must improve. When teams clog up the paint defensively, the Boilermakers have to hit enough perimeter shots to keep the defense honest, and that hasn’t been happening. Purdue’s inconsistent outside shooting has been a thorn in their side all season, but it’s been even more evident against top competition.

The Boilermakers have now proven they can play with anybody, but there is a big difference between making a good showing and closing out key games with a victory. Purdue has yet to take the next step of finishing off a ranked opponent, but they’ll have more opportunities to do so, starting tonight when they host #8 Michigan State.

Purdue is a good team, but they don’t look like a Big Ten contender or a team that can make a deep run in the NCAA Tournament at this point. The only way the Boilermakers can change that perception is to break through against an elite opponent, but that’s going to take a complete, 40-minute performance that Purdue has yet to put together this season.

It’s time to put up or shut up…the clock is ticking.

Can Purdue Compete With the Big Ten Elite?

The Purdue Boilermakers are in the midst of a successful basketball season. They currently stand at 19-4 on the year, 7-3 in the Big Ten, and have held a national ranking through all 23 games thus far. Purdue has done a nice job taking care of business against lesser foes, with only one real upset loss, that being to Illinois on January 10.

As good as all that sounds, there is one flaw in the Boilers’ resume: they are 0-2 against Top 25 competition this season.

The only two games they’ve played against nationally ranked opponents were against Butler on December 19 and Iowa on January 24. The game with Butler was tight throughout, but the Bulldogs prevailed 74-68. Purdue held a halftime lead at Iowa, but were outclassed in the second half and fell to the Hawkeyes 83-71.

The Boilermakers have only been able to test themselves against two ranked teams, but the fact that they lost both contests is a red flag. Purdue has been ranked as high as 9th in the nation this season, but they have yet to beat anyone of similar caliber.

Opportunity knocks in these next two conference games for Purdue. They will pay a visit to #8 Maryland on February 6, then host Michigan State (currently 12th in the polls) on February 9. These games are very important in establishing what kind of team the 2015-16 Boilermakers truly are.

Purdue is clearly a good team, but how good? Are they a Big Ten contender and a team expected to make some noise in the NCAA Tournament, or are they a middle-of-the-road Big Ten team who will make an early exit from The Big Dance (assuming they get there at all).

In their past Top 25 match-ups with Butler and Iowa, the Boilers have played well in stretches and had leads, but were unable to close those ballgames strongly enough to post a victory.

The recent signs have been promising for Purdue, as the team as been playing well and winning. Center A.J. Hammons has been a key factor for the Boilers of late, stuffing the stat sheet to the tune of a career-high 32 points, 11 rebounds, five assists and four blocked shots in Purdue’s win at home against Nebraska on January 30.

In short, the potential is there. When Purdue is on their game, they have an inside-outside combination that few teams around the country can match. Purdue’s front line is among the biggest and most talented in college basketball, and they have several wing players who can knock down shots when the defense collapses on the Boilermakers’ big men.

What Purdue needs to prove is that they can put it all together against top-flight competition, and they’ve yet to do that. These next two games will be a great litmus test for Purdue, but if that’s not enough, they also have games coming up later in February against #19 Indiana, and a return match with Maryland at Mackey Arena.

So, by the time the Big Ten season is nearing an end in late February, we’ll know what kind of team the Purdue Boilermakers are. The chance to prove they belong will be there, now, let’s see what they can do with it.

Purdue Opens Big Ten Play in Style

The Purdue Boilermakers ended the preseason with a 12-1 record and a #14 national ranking…the only blemish courtesy of a 74-68 loss to a very good Butler squad earlier in December. As successful as the pre-Big Ten schedule was for the Boilermakers, it’s now time to wipe the slate clean.

Everyone is 0-0 to begin conference play, so all 14 teams need to prove themselves against what is always a tough Big Ten gauntlet. Purdue opened the season in Madison, Wisconsin against the Wisconsin Badgers. The home team looked very different than they did this time last year, after losing 2015 National College Player of the Year Frank Kaminsky and athletic forward Sam Dekker to the NBA. Their long-time coach, Bo Ryan, also made a sudden exit from the program a couple weeks before conference play began, so the Badgers were a bit of a wild card coming into this contest. The game was a well-defended, grind-it-out battle – very reminiscent of the style that Big Ten basketball has been known for in the past. The game was tight well into the second half, but Purdue began to take control as the half progressed and went on to a 61-55 win over the Badgers.

Boilermakers center A.J. Hammons sparked the second half run, doing most of his damage after halftime to post 24 points and seven rebounds for Purdue. Guard Dakota Mathias, who didn’t score a point until the last 90 seconds of the game, nailed two consecutive three-pointers to help seal the victory for the Boilers. Wisconsin forward Nigel Hayes led the Badgers with 17 points and seven boards.

Looking ahead, Purdue needs to cash in on the advantage they have over virtually every other team they play, namely, having two skilled seven-footers on the roster. Senior A.J. Hammons (7-0, 260) and sophomore Isaac Haas (7-2, 300) have been a handful for opponents this season…some teams can’t match up when one of them is on the floor, and no one can match up with both. Hammons and Haas each have offensive post skills and can block shots. They can also step outside for jump shots, particularly Hammons, who even has three-point range when left open. Keeping the game tempo under control and feeding the post early and often will be key to Purdue’s success in the Big Ten this season.

A trademark of Purdue basketball has always been strong defense, and that continues to be the case in 2015-16. Their team defense is hard to get good shots against, and they have a go-to guy on that end of the floor in guard Rapheal Davis, the reigning Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year. So, what about weaknesses? The Butler Bulldogs did a nice job of showing what can be done to slow down the Boilermakers. They packed the lane defensively and dared Purdue’s perimeter players to beat them.

Purdue is capable of making a team pay for that philosophy, but they were unable to do so against Butler. The Bulldogs also played with a high level of intensity that the Boilermakers didn’t match until very late in the game. Purdue can’t afford mediocre effort, particularly against conference foes. There is reason for optimism in West Lafayette, as this Purdue team has the potential to do some damage in the conference and beyond. However, there are a group of teams (Michigan State, Maryland and Iowa, just to name a few) who will pose a major challenge to the Gold and Black. Purdue can’t take the remaining Big Ten teams for granted, either…doing that could well end in defeat on any given night.

In short: the Big Ten is tough, there are no easy games or nights off, and losing focus will oftentimes mean losing games. The Boilers passed their first test on the road at Wisconsin, but there are many challenges still ahead.

Next up, Iowa invades Mackey Arena on Saturday…all Iowa did in their league opener was defeat the top-ranked team in the country, Michigan State. Get used to it Purdue faithful, the trials and tribulations have just begun.

Ten NCAA Football Coaches on the Hot Seat in 2012

Lots of NCAA football coaches who make lots of money will change jobs this year. Winning cures everything including unending questions about job security. Some of these men are in positions of no hope, others can do a lot to help themselves.

10. Mack Brown, Texas – some would say he should never have to worry about his job, but his record over since his 2009 BCS Championship loss to Alabama hasn’t been stellar (.500). Texas has a tough stretch of four games early in the season in which they should only lose one game. The rest of their season is very manageable with their last big test coming to TCU on November 24th. By the time the Horned Frogs roll around, Texas will either be on their way to a good bowl game or Mack Brown will be wondering if he’ll be coaching in Austin next year.

Continue reading Ten NCAA Football Coaches on the Hot Seat in 2012

Big Ten Emerging As Best Basketball Conference

College basketball has been up and running for a few weeks now and the madness has already begun. We have seen monstrous dunks and shooting clinics. We have seen a number one team upset by an unranked opponent. And we have even seen an on-court brawl between “locker room gangsters, not thugs.” (Thanks Xavier and Cincinnati.)

Through all of the madness, however, who is this year’s best conference turning out to be? Deciding this is always a tough task. Not every conference has the same amount of teams. Do you judge by their record against other conferences or by the competition level in their conference matchups? But in this early college season the Big Ten may be emerging as this year’s strongest conference in NCAA Division 1 basketball.

In the most recent AP Top 25 poll the Big Ten had six teams representing their conference in the rankings. That number is tied for top among division 1 conferences with the Big East, who has four more teams in their conference. The SEC and Big 12 came close with five and four teams respectively.

The Big Ten started its season off strong by winning their third straight Big Ten/ACC Challenge. Though it is still trailing 10-3 in the all-time series the Big Ten has shown great improvement and more of a commitment to basketball. And of the conference’s twelve teams, nine are off to great starts. The three not fairing so well in their young seasons are Penn State, Nebraska, and Iowa. Here is a brief run-down of the remaining nine teams’ seasons so far.

Continue reading Big Ten Emerging As Best Basketball Conference