Purdue at Indiana: The Report Card

It was a game that felt eerily similar to the Duke contest back in November, with Indiana hanging with a top 5 team virtually wire to wire only to melt down at the end.  There are no moral victories at a program like Indiana and in a conference like the Big Ten.  The Hoosiers simply need to finish better.  IU actually ran out to an early 10 point lead in this one, but in the end Purdue had more reliable scoring options and made fewer mistakes down the stretch.  There will be no time to sulk, as Indiana is back out on the road at top 20 Ohio State on Tuesday.  IU loses this one, 74-67, and falls to 12-10 overall, and 5-5 in Big Ten play.

Overall:  B  We had suggested that the only way Indiana was going to pull off the upset over this very good Purdue team was to give maximum effort and make things miserable for the Boilers.  They probably did that, and it still wasn’t enough.  If we were grading solely on effort without considering results then this grade would almost certainly be an A.  But this is Indiana, and losing at home to Purdue under any circumstances, save for Tom Crean’s first 3 years, is just not acceptable.  This particular Indiana team simply lacks the size and depth to pull out games against the upper echelon teams right now.

Coaching:  A-  When you consider what Archie Miller is doing with the hand he has been dealt — he is doing a masterful job.  His players are busting their behinds for him.  He has had to deal with the loss of his starting center and his team has been awful shooting from the perimeter and free throw line.  As far as the things he can control — like effort, ball security and scheme —   those things have all been solid.  There’s only so much you can expect of a coach if his players can’t hit shots and he has no real alternatives on the bench.  Today his decision to tighten up the rotation seemed spot on, perhaps until the end.  We’ll never know if the late collapse had anything to do with fatigue.  We will, however, know if it impacts the energy level on Tuesday night.

Offense:  B-   It was a similar story to the Illinois game — Indiana shoots greater than 50% from the field and can’t throw it in the ocean from behind the arc or free throw line.  Indiana had a really effective scheme in the first half pulling Haas and Haarms away from the basket and then attacking the paint.  Johnson and Morgan were fantastic, but unfortunately IU has few other reliable options — a fact that was only compounded by the loss of Collin Hartman, who is apparently out for 1-2 weeks with a leg injury.  With Morgan and Johnson largely creating on their on, IU only had 10 assists.  The Hoosiers also only had 10 turnovers, but 4 of those came in the last 6 minutes, and IU only scored 5 points in the last 5 minutes.

Defense:  A-  Purdue came into this game averaging 85 points a game on 51% shooting from the field including 44% from behind the 3-point line.  Today Indiana held Purdue to 74 points on 48% shooting from the field including 28% from behind the 3-point line.  So Indiana’s effort was impactful, and it wasn’t just a bad shooting night for the Boilers — Indiana contested just about everything.  But Indiana’s size and depth disadvantage was equally impactful, as Isaac Haas pretty much did whatever he wanted.  It really isn’t fair to expect Juwan Morgan and Freddie McSwain to be able to stop him.  What Indiana could have done better is force more turnovers — as Purdue only had 7 on the game.

Players with meaningful minutes:

  • Al Durham, Jr.:  B+  This was a better day for Durham.  He looked poised and aggressive.  He played solid defense and had an amazing finish over Haas that resulted in a traditional 3-point play.
  • Josh Newkirk:  B-  Indiana needs more than 4 points in 35 minutes.  He did have half of Indiana’s assists including a great pass to set up a Smith dunk.  But Newkirk had some high profile turnovers today.  His first one resulted in a Carsen Edwards dunk (on Newkirk) that will have some success-starved Purdue fans gloating for years.  His other turnover came in the last two minutes and was effectively the final dagger.
  • Justin Smith:  B  It was a good effort from Smith but he continues to struggle mightily finishing at the rim.  He was effective early on the boards but was quieter as the game wore on, in part due to foul trouble.  These extended late season minutes with Hartman out will serve him very well.
  • Robert Johnson:  A-  It isn’t always easy to pick out individual defensive efforts, but Johnson was flat out awesome on defense today.  He was up in Carsen Edwards’ grill the entire game and caused him to have a quiet 10 points on 3 of 10 shooting.  Miller praised the defensive effort in the post-game.  His 21 points, 6 rebounds and 3 assists kept IU in this game, along with Morgan.  He did have 3 turnovers, had a rough last few minutes, and struggled at the free throw line.
  • Devonte Green:  He really did not play long enough to register a grade, but with 1 turnover in only 4 minutes of play, it’s clear that Archie Miller had a short leash.  Were there carryover struggles from the finish at Illinois?
  • Juwan Morgan:  A-  He did a really nice job pulling out and then attacking Haas off the dribble.  Another solid day with 24 points, 7 rebounds and 2 blocks.  He struggled late with 4 fouls which helped to contribute to easy buckets for Haas.  This was a game where a consistent 3-point shot from Morgan would have really helped offset Purdue’s size advantage on the other end of the floor, but Morgan didn’t have it, going 1-4.
  • Zach McRoberts:  A-  Zach was another player whose defensive energy was obvious.  He was constantly in passing lanes, aggressively guarding the ball and closing out on shooters.  He had 3 steals on the night and was disruptive on countless other plays.  He added 6 rebounds and 2 assists.  IU is going to need this reluctant scorer to look for more offense with Hartman out.
  • Freddie McSwain, Jr.:  A-  McSwain earned praise from Miller on his effort, including rebounding, getting tap outs and enduring the thankless job of dealing with Haas.  He has gotten much better finishing around the basket.  Miller indicated that we’ll be seeing more of him with Hartman out.

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