What happened to that Purdue team that had won 19 games in a row just over a week ago?
Coming off their third loss in a span of 8 days after having not lost for over two months, Purdue finds itself in an incredible battle to find the best version of that latter mentioned team.
This senior led team has struggled to find consistent play from their seniors, the shooting has fallen off drastically, and the overall effort continues to leave plenty to be desired at times.
Dakota Mathias has combined to score 16 points during the three game losing streak. P.J. Thompson, meanwhile, has scored three points. For two of the best three point shooters on the team to have scored a combined 19 points in 190 minutes, the offense is obviously struggling. Ryan Cline, perhaps the teams most deadly pure sharpshooter, has taken one three point attempt during the stretch.
Teams have realized that Isaac Haas is not going to be able to blow them out by scoring points two at a time. They can afford to play him one-on-one in the post and stick to the shooters. When Haas isn’t dominant, Purdue is going to struggle to score the basketball.
One of the biggest problems anyone can see just from watching the game is that the motion offense for Purdue does not have the crisp motion we’ve become accustomed to. Once the ball has been entered to Haas in the paint, guys seem to have conceded that Haas has to go one-on-one and score. The cuts have become weaker, the offensive energy has faded and the ball movement is a shell of what it was during that winning streak.
While this loss will certainly knock Purdue off of the line for a #1 seed, should fans really start to panic based off this three game stretch?
In saying this, I’m not trying to diminish the efforts of Ohio State or Wisconsin, but the Michigan State game seems to be the only one that Purdue was actually beaten, rather than lost. Against Ohio State, losing a 14 point lead at home is an absolute gut-wrenching loss. In Madison, in that slug-fest of a basketball game, to lose in the final minutes to a clearly inferior opponent.
As far as panicking, it doesn’t seem wise to go that far. In terms of production, especially. In everything, teams can get hot and they can go cold. Purdue was shooting the ball at such a ridiculous rate for so long, the fact that they’ve come back to planet Earth a bit and have struggled lately isn’t the biggest shock in the world.
However, where the fear should come from is that the Boilermakers look like they’re playing half awake. The energy simply isn’t there. Nojel Eastern provided it in spurts against Wisconsin, but they went a majority of that game with no life at all. Is Vincent Edwards still struggling to recover from a stomach virus that plagued him for a few games? Is he still getting his legs back from that? The senior forward, who is a finalist for the Julius Erving award, has looked like he’s been playing with twenty pound weights attached to his legs during this stretch.
In the history of the Purdue program, the fans have become accustomed to one thing: effort. No matter how the team was performing, they’ve come to believe that the five guys on the floor were always going to give every shred of heart they had to the team.
Right now, this team is not living up to that billing.
As far as hitting the panic button, it would seem foolish to go that far after seeing how good this team was for over two months. However, things certainly need to get back on the right track sooner than later as the season comes to a close.