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Friday, February 20, 2009

A dish best served cold…

January 31, 2002 at Bloomington: #25 Indiana 66, Purdue 52 (Purdue finished 12-17, 4-11 Big Ten)

January 15, 2005 at West Lafayette: Indiana75, Purdue 73

February 22, 2005 at Bloomington (Gene Keady's final IU game): Indiana 79, Purdue 62 (Purdue finished 7-21, 3-13 Big Ten)

January 21, 2006 at Bloomington: Indiana 62, Purdue 49

March 1, 2006 at West Lafayette: Indiana 70, Purdue 59 (Purdue finished 9-19, 3-13 Big Ten)

Why do I mention those games? Those are the five games we are supposedly trying to avenge tomorrow. Many people want a 30 point blowout as a way to kick the Hoosiers while they are down. As you can see, however, even in those three seasons when we were at our worst and Indiana had a chance to kick us while we were down, the games were still competitive. That is what rivalries bring out in teams. That 2005 team was abysmally bad in Gene Keady's final season, but we still nearly pulled off a miracle in his final IU-Purdue game at Mackey Arena. We weren't much better the next year, but we kept under 15 points each time. Indiana this year is probably about as bad as both of those teams, but absolutely would not be surprised if they kept it close tomorrow. I expect to win, but the 30 point humiliation some are calling for would honestly shock me.

2008-09 record: 6-19, 1-12

2007-08 Postseason: lost to Arkansas 86-72 in First round of NCAA Tournament

2007-08 Final record: 25-8, 14-4 Big Ten

Blog Representation: The Hoosier Report, Inside the Hall

This really began a year ago yesterday. On February 19th of last year the Hoosiers topped us in Bloomington behind a stellar effort from D.J. White. Ever since then the Indiana program has been in freefall to this point. That was Kelvin Sampson's final game as head coach, and quite frankly the team quit on Dan Dakich for the rest of the season. The Hoosiers went 3-4 under him, but lost ugly games to Penn State, Minnesota, and Arkansas to finish the season. White was a class player and didn't deserve that kind of finish to his college career. To his credit Eric Gordon also played well, but struggled with his shot down the stretch. What players like Jamarcus Ellis and DeAndre Thomas did in quitting on their teammates, however, is shameful.

As we know, Indiana completely cleaned house after the season. Virtually anyone who contributed anything to last year's 25-8 near Big Ten title season is gone. The lone exception being the 1.3 points that former walk-on Kyle Taber brought back. Needless to say the results have not been pretty as the Hoosiers have already set a school record for losses in a single season. Only an absolute miracle (and likely necessary food poisoning scares by the other 10 Big Ten teams) run in the Big Ten Tournament here in a few weeks will have the Hoosiers playing anywhere in the postseason.

They have lost to the likes of Lipscomb and Northeastern while barely pulling out wins over IUPUI and Division II Chaminade. Their best win to date is likely a 72-57 victory over Cornell, who went to last year's NCAA tournament and is the front runner in the Ivy League to return to the dance. A 66-56 win over TCU (currently 14-12) isn't bad either. Indiana has only won once in the last 15 games since the TCU win. The Chaminade win is the only victory they have away from Bloomington, but at least it was a true road game technically.

Many fans on the GBI basketball board are derisive about saying Indiana plays hard. I am not one of those fans. I certainly respect it because we play hard too, we just have better talent at the moment. If you can get kids to play hard now, when they have absolutely nothing to play for, the team will get better in a hurry when the talent is there. That is why I am a little afraid of this game, but only a little. On the one hand, a victory would make Indiana's season. This is the only thing they have to play for because a win in Mackey Arena would humiliate us. We're going to get their absolute best shot. On the other hand, Matt Painter knows this rivalry. He will not let our guys take them for granted.

Statistically, Indiana is pretty brutal. Leading scorer Devan Dumes averages 13.7 points per game. He's a 6'2" junior guard that can drive as well as shoot the three. If he gets hot they might have a puncher's chance (rimshot). He's in his first year as a transfer from Eastern Michigan, but against the better teams in the Big Ten he hasn't been nearly as effective. Verdell Jones III is a promising freshman point guard that averages 9.2 points and 3.3 assist per game. His major knock, as it is for most of this team, is that he turns the ball over way too much.

Freshman forward Tom Pritchard is the teams' second leading scorer at 10.3 per game and leading rebounder at 6.6 per game. He has struggled of late, having been kept in single digits scoring-wise for the last seven games. Minnesota even shut him out in 27 minutes of play on February 10th. Pritchard shoots almost 50% from the field, but he is below 60% from the free throw line.

Indiana plays a pretty regular eight man rotation with Nick Williams, Matt Roth, Malik Story, Taber, and Daniel Moore each playing 18 minutes per night. Unfortunately for them, Taber is the only upperclassman amongst the group. While Dumes is technically a junior the rest of the core are freshmen. This could pay dividends in the future, but for now Indiana is struggling. This team is different from our freshman–dominated squad of last year because we at least had a few upperclassmen leaders like Keaton Grant, Chris Kramer, and Tarrance Crump to help ease the transition. IU does not have that luxury, and they are suffering for it.

Indiana is at the bottom of the conference in virtually every major statistical category. They score over five fewer points per game than everyone except Iowa. They give up over seven points per game more than everyone else in the league. They are the worst shooting team in the league, and teams are shooting the best against them by wide margins. Indiana's defense does cause about 14 turnovers per game, but they give it back 18 times per contest on average. That's four turnovers more than the nearest competition. Considering we force more turnovers than anyone in the league this could get very ugly.

Though Indiana plays hard, the truth is there are few things else they do well. The Hoosiers are somewhat strong on the offensive glass, particularly Pritchard who is second in the conference in that statistic. They are also good at getting to the free throw line, though they only shoot 66% as a team once they get there. If this team can ever get the fundamentals of the game down such as not turning it over and hitting free throws there is the potential for them to be good. Sadly, this is not a fundamentally sound team.

Some Purdue fans may be confused as to why I think it is sad that Indiana is awful this year. I want Indiana to be good. I want them to be good and I want to still beat them when they are good because it validates our success that much more. A Purdue win tomorrow is expected on both sides. We won't get any respect by thrashing them because that is what we are supposed to do. When this rivalry was at its height in the 80's and early 90's every single game was a battle. There was a grudging respect on both sides for the other. That element has been missing for some time and as a result the rivalry has died in the eyes of the national media. When both teams are good it rivals North Carolina-Duke in terms of national attention. I want to get back to that level, but the Hoosiers need to improve first.

This is a bit of a role reversal game because it wasn't that long ago we were mired in the Big Ten basement. In my opinion, this Indiana team is worse than our teams at the end of the Keady era. We quickly recovered though, and so can IU.

I honestly don't see how Indiana can win tomorrow unless Purdue is completely unfocused. We just took the #5 team in the nation and made them look bad on our home floor. It would take us being totally out of the game mentally for Indiana to have much of a chance. Instead of focusing on what we need to do to win it is more of a case of what they Hoosiers need to do. They need to take care of the ball against possibly the fiercest defense they have seen all year. They need to hit shots against a defense that makes teams shoot poorly. They also have to defend a team with as many as nine guys that can go for double figures in any game.

Indiana hasn't proven they can do this against anybody this year, so it would be a major shock if it all came together tomorrow afternoon. They might keep it close, but any loss by the Boilers would be a major upset. Purdue 75, Indiana 56

3 comments:

Captain Mañana said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Captain Mañana said...

Well put T-Mill, and you are correct about the rivalry because in the end 'we are only as good as our competition'; WE need to get better first, IU will get better in time simply because the state's high school basketball talent is, year-in and year-out, one of the nation's best ...that and "they play so darn hard" and something about 5 banners or something. Anyway, in 3-4 years IU will probably be competitive again.

In the mean time, I hope we do take the hoosiers to the woodshed... tomorrow and every time, every game after.

1:13 PM

College Slam Dunk & 3-Point said...

Looking forward to March Madness I found a great site discussing Purdue and Northern Iowa.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=96up75s2En0&feature=PlayList&p=3B56F85416E1E310&index=4
Bruce Pearl, head coach of 9-seed Tennessee, breaks down the 5-12 match-up in the West Region between the Purdue Boilermakers and the Northern Iowa Panthers.