Erratic Boilermakers look to put it all together
By Michael Osipoff email@example.com or 713-2485 December 3, 2013 7:06PM
The Big Number
.500 — Purdue’s winning percentage in the Big Ten/ACC Challenge, at 6-6, tied for the best among Big Ten teams going into this season’s event, along with Illinois (7-7), Ohio State (6-6) and Nebraska (1-1).
Freshman forward Basil Smotherman started against Siena in the Old Spice Classic, drawing such an assignment for the first time, and also finished the game against the Saints, making key plays down the stretch.
“He brings energy, he plays hard, and he definitely deserved to start just from his energy on a daily basis, practicing hard, trying to do the little things, being coachable,” Purdue coach Matt Painter said. “He’s been great in those areas. He deserved to start, in my opinion, and he deserved to be in at the end.
“He kept a good attitude and kept working hard even when he didn’t play as much. You’re trying to find the right mix of guys, and he definitely deserved an opportunity.”
Updated: January 5, 2014 6:39AM
A bad first half and a good second against Oklahoma State. A good first half and a bad second against Washington State. A bad first half and a good second against Siena.
Such was Purdue’s wild inconsistency at the Old Spice Classic, in which it salvaged a win against the Saints only with a furious comeback.
“I’ve never, as an assistant or a head coach, been with a team that can show such promise against quality opponents and then in the other half, lose their focus or not make winning basketball plays or not tough it out on a certain possession; and then be able to flip it, and play tough, play smart,” Matt Painter said. “It’s a positive that you have it, you show that you can be successful. But it’s also a negative in terms of things don’t go your way, you’re not able to right the ship.”
After having a couple of days to digest the Boilermakers’ experience in the Orlando area, Painter remained at a loss to explain the extremes within a particular game. Yes, they have a younger team with new components to incorporate, but one freshman is a redshirt who actually played last season, this season’s three freshmen already have played significant minutes, and the graduate transfers are veterans. The team has had games, exhibitions and scrimmages to develop cohesiveness.
“I don’t have the answer at this point in terms of why you can be good in one half and then really struggle in the other half,” said Painter, adding he doesn’t “believe (the inconsistency is) who we are.” “Sure, there are going to be times when you’re not quite as good, but you still should be able to hold serve and be pretty consistent — not have a great half, but not have a bad one.
“When you watch guys have success against each one of the teams and also have failure against each one of the teams, it’s the same style and the same game. … We’re showing success and failure against the same thing, so it just lies within us to continue to plug, continue to work.”
The Boilermakers (6-2) will strive to play a complete 40 minutes against Boston College (3-4) in the Big Ten/ACC Challenge on Wednesday night at Mackey Arena. Sophomore guard Olivier Hanlan paces the Eagles, picked to finish eighth in the conference’s preseason poll, with 21.7 points per game. Junior forward Ryan Anderson (19.0, 7.1 rebounds) and sophomore guard Joe Rahon (13.4) also average in double figures.
“They don’t play exactly like Michigan, but they do some things similar to Michigan, and they do it very well,” Painter said.
Said sophomore swingman Rapheal Davis: “We had a rough week down in Orlando, but we want to come back and have strong practices to get ready for Boston College and play a good ACC team. We just want to keep pushing and keep pushing forward, and keep remaining relevant.
“Motivation comes from last week, how we played down there. We know we have to play better.”
Purdue has won four straight games in the Challenge, since losing to Duke in 2008, to improve to 6-6. The Big Ten is 3-10-1 in the event, having won three in a row before last season’s tie.
“You’re always going to play a quality opponent,” Painter said. “The ACC is a great conference, and has rich tradition. For us, it’s just trying to do our part. … You’re just trying to help your conference and help yourself.”
Notes: Boston College’s Steve Donahue coached Cornell when Purdue grad transfer Errick Peck was a freshman in 2009-10. That season, his 10th, he led the Big Red to the Sweet 16, their third straight NCAA Tournament appearance, before taking the job with the Eagles. … Purdue is 2-0 all-time against Boston College, with both games at a neutral site, including the 2008 Preseason NIT at Madison Square Garden. … The Eagles are 6-1 in the Challenge, including 3-0 on the road.