Analyzing Purdue’s Performance in Maui

Posted by Alex Moscoso (@AlexPMoscoso) on November 27th, 2014

After three convincing wins against three low-major teams and the impressive debut of freshman Vince Edwards, Purdue entered the Maui Invitational ready to test themselves against their major-conference peers and see if they’re as significantly improved from last season as they have appeared thus far. So what did they find out? They’re definitely better than last year but their season-long trajectory is still yet to be determined. Purdue finished Maui in fifth place with a 2-1 showing. The Boilermakers have proven they can beat teams likely not making the NCAA Tournament (Missouri) or likely to be on the bubble (BYU); but they missed their opportunity to get a resume win or two when they dropped their tournament-opener to Kansas State. But most importantly, they learned they’re a talented group that will need more consistency from their starters and less costly turnovers in order to really make some waves in conference play.

Rapheal Davis helped lead Purdue to a 2-1 and 5th place finish in Maui.

Rapheal Davis helped lead Purdue to a 2-1 record and 5th place finish in Maui.

Against Kansas State, the Boilermakers effectively lost the game in the first half when they committed 11 turnovers that led to 17 Wildcats points, and subsequently a 15-point halftime deficit. In their second game against Mizzou, Purdue remedied their first half woes by coming out strong and playing physical defense right from tipoff, which led to the Tigers being unable to make a field goal until six minutes into the game. In the final game against BYU, the Boilermakers found themselves in a back-and-forth nail biter that went into overtime, which could have been lost due to a Rapheal Davis turnover, but instead was won on A.J. Hammons hook shot. The last few sequences of the BYU game seems representative of Purdue’s Maui performance: moments of intense frustration from turnovers, that is overcome by the innate talent within this group.

With respect to the talent, the Boilermakers have enough scoring on their perimeter in Davis, Edwards, and Kendall Stephens to keep their offense churning, despite not having a go-to player. It’s also apparent that Isaac Haas, not Edwards, is the most important freshman on this team. While Edwards is a gifted scorer, he’s not mature enough to give consistent production every game. Haas, however, will be a factor every time he’s on the court with his ability to score down low, protect the rim, and rebound. His presence also ensures that there is always a 7-footer on the court – which is huge given Hammons’s perpetual foul trouble. The issues for Purdue is the inconsistency of performances on the offense by individual players – having no go-to guy means Matt Painter is never really sure where his teams’ points are going to come from game to game. In the first six games, it’s been either Davis, Edwards, or Stephens who has led the Boilermakers in scoring. However, these three have individually scored in single digits on more than a couple of occasions (even held scoreless in some instances). The other concerning issue for Purdue is their propensity to commit turnovers. The Boilermakers had a higher turnover percentage than their opponent in four of their six games – including three wins. That won’t hold up in conference play.

Purdue will get a few more chances to score wins against other potential bubble teams in their non-conference schedule including a game at home against North Carolina State, at Vanderbilt, and in Indianapolis versus Notre Dame. After Maui, we know this team is capable of running the table against this slate, but the Boilermakers will have to work out the kinks in its new roster to do it. And they’ll have to, because losing games against teams outside the Top 25 is the fastest way back to irrelevancy.

Alex Moscoso (170 Posts)

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