Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Is Lewis Jackson Purdue's Cure All?

Something is awry in Boilertown USA. Purdue was picked as a Final Four contender preseason. After jumping out to 14 and 0, with impressive wins over West Virginia and Tennessee, it certainly looked like a reasonable prediction. Now that they've hit conference play, they're on a three game loosing streak. What happened? Is Purdue not who we thought they were?
To be perfectly honest, loosing at Wisconsin isn't that bad. Loosing to Ohio State isn't either. Except that they did it at home. And then to drop the third at Northwestern doesn't paint a pretty picture. A lot of people have pointed to the Boilers' turnover woes. If only Lewis Jackson were back at the point, the Boilers would be fine. The only hole in the argument is that they haven't had Lewis Jackson all year. Somehow, they still managed to go 14 and 0. Remember that 15 point win over West Virginia? That was without Jackson too. So we have to dig a little deeper here.
Purdue was outrebounded by 21 boards in their three losses, including getting outrebounded by 11 to Northwestern. But, Purdue hasn't been particularly good on the boards all season. They've been outrebounded by the likes of Valparaiso, Ball State and Cal State Northridge to name a few.
Defensively they have taken a step back. On the season they've held opponents to 40 percent shooting. The last three games their opponents have shot an average of 45 percent from the field. So it would seem Purdue let up a little on the intensity. Their own field goal percentage is the more jarring stat, though. After averaging over 45 percent shooting on the season, Wisconsin, Ohio State and Northwestern managed to hold the Boilers to 36 percent shooting on average.
So, yeah, having a true point guard back on offense might be just what this team needs. But if they hit the boards a little harder, and played some of this famed defense that Chris Kramer and company are supposed to be known for, they may not need him as much.

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