Controversial Foul Call Not Purdue’s Only Problem in Rough StartPosted by KTrahan on November 16th, 2012
The first thing that Purdue fans will likely blame for the Boilermakers’ 89-81 loss Thursday night is a controversial flagrant foul call on D.J. Byrd. The call gave Villanova four straight points, which the Wildcats wouldn’t have been able to get without the call. Whatever you think of the officiating — the call in question was an elbow by Byrd — that wasn’t the only thing that factored into the loss, writes Jeff Washburn of the. Lafayette Journal and Courier.
One call doesn’t win or lose a game, and had the Boilermakers been crisper at the finish or been less sluggish at the start, they likely would have won the game. Purdue used a 21-4 second half run to get back into the game, but, as Washburn points out, “rushed some shots, and at times, played like its hair was on fire, as Painter likes to say, meaning that the Boilermakers played at a helter-skelter pace when it was not necessary.” Purdue also shot just 57.1 percent from the free throw line — whereas Villanova shot 80.5 percent — allowing the Wildcats to stay in the game. The loss drops the Boilermakers to 1-2 with the consolation game of the 2K Sports Classic against Oregon State coming up Friday night.
This is a very young Purdue team, so nights like Thursday night figured to happen early in the year. When three freshmen see significant minutes, and one starts and plays 32 minutes, you can expect some inconsistency. This team has a lot of talent, and it will be very good a few years down the road. However, the Boilers have a lot of growing up to do in order to be competitive in the Big Ten this season.
Many NCAA Tournament prognosticators have the Boilermakers on the bubble for a tourney berth this season, and while there is still a long way to go, November games still count. In such a deep Big Ten, a conference record better than 9-9 could be hard to come by for Purdue, which makes an impressive non-conference slate essential for the Boilermakers. Right now, they have a win against Hofstra and losses to Villanova and Bucknell. Villanova isn’t a pushover, but that’s a game Purdue should have won to help its March resume. The same goes for Bucknell, as the Bison have an impressive center in Mike Muscala and could challenge for the Patriot League title. But that’s a game the Boilermakers should have won, especially at home.
By no means is the season already done for Purdue. As previously mentioned, Matt Painter’s team is talented from Byrd to the Johnson trio to freshmen Donnie Hale and A.J. Hammons. However, they have to start putting things together soon to avoid a non-conference slate that could eventually be an RPI-killer. A win against Oregon State on Friday would be a good place to start.