It’s Saturday, which means it’s Round Table Day. I ask a question to our staff and see what they have to say. We’re sticking to Purdue basketball again this week.
Purdue Basketball is back in first place for the fifth week this season, the most of any team so far this year, and sits alone atop the Big Ten. Even so, they are not a perfect team. If this season has derailed, what is the reason? What is the biggest weakness/responsibility of this team?
Shooting should be from three points. No one has yet figured out how to slow down Zack Eddy’s speed. Its production does not concern me. My concern is shooting the three points, we’ve seen games where Purdue struggled to shoot the ball and it’s no coincidence that these are the worst games for Purdue. Games where it really could have gone either way. If Purdue can hit the ball like they did in Portland, I think they are unbeatable. This is clearly a rare feat though. Purdue was firing on all cylinders in there.
If the guard’s play fails, Purdue Edey will have to shoulder more of the burden and that’s asking a lot of a guy who already does so much and carries such a huge burden.
I don’t think this team lacks leadership and coexistence, so I don’t think the team is going to get derailed unless we have some sort of major argument between the players and their personal lives. I’ve said for a long time that for this team to be successful, they have to shoot 35% off the top from behind the arc to work efficiently on the offensive end. Bordeaux has played 20 matches this season and in about half of them they have shot less than 35% from outside the arc.
In the 11 games Purdue has shot 35% or better from behind the arc, only 2 games have been decided by less than 12 points and both were away games at MSU and OSU. In fact, in those 11 games the margin of victory was 15.8 points, as in 7 games where Purdue has played teams on a pulse (removing FAMU and New Orleans for obvious reasons), Purdue won by an average of just 6.7 points. Purdue’s difference in this percentage of shooting is where things can deviate from the boilers if they can’t find a relative level of shooting. Shooting just 35% from behind the arc as a team would put Purdue within 100y In-country and that should be the norm going forward as teams will likely move into more territory looking to block Zach’s lane or continue to double it and hope for a poor shooting night (which is a 50% chance in a season).
Purdue is full of good to very good shooters with players like Morton (43.6%), Forrest (42.3%), and Gillis (41.4%) all showing they can be very good shooters, and last season Brandon Newman was the lowest % shooter at 32. %, this year, would put Neumann at 5y By Gillis, Jenkins, and Morton. These guys have all proven they can make shots, but I think the roles cast this year may have thrown the mental aspects of shooting just a little bit and after slow starts Smith (44.6%) and Lowyer (36.4%) are starting to round into shape. It’s time for the veteran shooters in Purdue to start doing the same because that’s the team’s biggest weakness right now.
I think there are two different answers to these questions. Purdue has enough talent that only one thing will derail the season: injury, especially if Zack Eddy gets hurt. Other injuries could be tough but a long injury to Big Maple would be a crushing blow. As for the team’s weakness, it seems to be a 3-point shot. If 3-point shots fall, Purdue wins every game by 15 points, but Purdue didn’t make 3 points in a hot minute. In the two worst games this year (Maryland and Rutgers), Purdue shot 2-13 and 7-23 from deep, respectively. Going full circle, because Purdue has Zach Edey, the wheels stay on despite the lack of consistent shooting from the depths. If Purdue can get to 3 like it did in PK Legacy (38% or better in all three games) and Zach Edey stays healthy, everyone else, watch out.
I will start my answer by saying that I like a young team. They play with a certain kind of edge and they know this isn’t their last season; Everything to prove, nothing to lose type of attitude. With that being said, he may be our biggest weakness as this season also goes on. We started two real new players who are playing well beyond their age but this is still new. Every arena they play in, the team they play in, the place they go is the first time. This will be the first March Madness they experience, and as the stakes mount, it will be hard not to get freaked out in those environments. Their first competitive game at Assembly will be a B1G test to see how they respond in the most hostile environment they’ve seen yet. They’ve been playing with the house money and I think if they can keep that mentality up all season they’ll be fine and not get in over their heads.
It’s about Loyer and Smith. Zach will get his question, it’s a matter of Lauer and Smith getting theirs too. In the only loss of the season, Edey, Smith and Loyer combined for 36, with Edey besting the Smith/Loyer combination, “only” complete with 19.
The freshman wall is my fear.