Purdue's 17-point loss to Indiana Saturday at Mackey Arena feels like the beginning of the end. And Boilermaker fans should have seen it coming.
Matt Painter is a great strategic coach and usually gets the most out of his players. At first glance, it would appear that he's not doing that this season. A deeper look reveals that there may just not be a lot of potential to be maximizing.
Outside of Robbie Hummel, not a single player on this team comes from a class that was ranked in the top 25 by Scout. There just isn't that much talent out there. And that is Painter's fault.
During the current stretch in which Purdue is 3-5, the team is shooting under 36 percent from the floor (145-403). That's not going to get it done. But maybe this is less an anomaly and more the norm with this group of shooters. They're only shooting 63 percent from the free throw line, after all. There are four players (Terone Johnson, Travis Carroll, Jacob Lawson and Anthony Johnson) who are shooting .500 or worse from the charity stripe.
Maybe they just can't shoot.
Defense. That's what Painter is supposed to be all about. Thusfar this season, the Boilermakers are allowing 63.5 points per game. That puts them right around 80th best in the country (last update was Feb. 2, when Purdue was ranked 69th). During the aforementioned eight-game period, the team is actually allowing five points more per game.
Defense may have lived in West Lafayette in the past and it may live there again in the future, but it's at least on vacation right now. It's probably in Wisconsin.
Sometimes defensive insufficiencies can be hidden with good shooting (which Purdue doesn't have) and rebounding, thus not allowing second chance shots. JaJuan Johnson left a big hole in the middle of the Boilermaker lineup.
Over the season, Purdue is averaging 33.8 rebounds per game. Unfortunately, it's opponents are averaging 35 rebounds per game. And those numbers are skewed because they include games against High Point, Northern Illinois, Western Michigan and Coppin State.
During these last eight games, the boilers are grabbing just over 30 boards while opponents are getting to over 43.
Painter's squad is now .500 in the conference. It hasn't been under .500 this deep into the Big Ten schedule in five years but that's about to change. Tuesday, Purdue will visit Colombus and the No. 3 Ohio State Buckeyes. They won't win that game.
And they're probably not going to get above .500 before the conference tournament. The schedule still includes games at Michigan and Illinois and a home game against Michigan State.
It's time for Boiler Nation to come around and realize that this team is not a world beater. Even if Purdue sneaks into the tournament, it will have a hard time competing.
But hey, La Lumiere had a good week. Just wait til next year, Purdue.