FINAL SCORE: 74-55 | Box score
Kicking it old school tonight.
1) Derek Elston. Not sure if Elston got more run tonight because he limited his defensive mistakes tonight, or because well, he just deserves it. (Because I think he does.) But he pumped in 13 points and seven rebounds in 24 minutes before fouling out, on 5-of-10 shooting from the field. He offers a nice, controlled, smooth, inside, outside dynamic on offense, and for a team full of guys that turn the ball over time and again, Elston turned the ball over just twice tonight.
He needs to play this much every night. He’s a guy that, if he defects and transfers this offseason, it would be a shame. The freshman has a shot at developing into a solid player in the years to come.
2) Motion and creation. At times tonight, this IU squad looked like the competent version from earlier in the season against lesser foes: Jeremiah Rivers was penetrating and it opened up more opportunities on offense. When this team dribbles and holds, holds, holds the ball around the peremiter, they’re unimaginative. When Rivers and Verdell Jones drive and move the ball off the top of the key, there’s more there for IU, because defenses have to rotate and adjust.
One particular play that stands out in the first half: Rivers took the ball from the left wing, dribbled near the hole and passed it off to Bobby C. Bobby C. found Daniel Moore near the top of the key. Moore shot-faked, got his defender up in the air, and then had a nice open shot just in front of the three-point line. He missed. Bad.
Someday, this will be Maurice Creek getting such a shot.
IU also tried getting out on the break and transition at times tonight. It wasn’t always successful, but these were two dynamics this team had early on, and have the Tom Crean seal of approval all over them.
IU just simply doesn’t have the personnel or talent to execute in these schemes night in and night out yet.
3) Bawa played. And scored! Then Tijan poked him in the eye. Bad Tijan.
1) Dear ITH reader,
I will pay you the sum of $1 million U.S. dollars if in IU’s remaining slate of games, they go the entire 40 minutes without catching a pass, having some sort of brain aneurysm and randomly traveling for no good reason at all. Ha. Just kidding. No. I won’t do that.
It’s a mental, timid, unsure hiccup, like going in to kiss a girl, and putting your lips to her eyes.
How many times has IU done such a move this season? By my count, it’s eleventy gillion.
But, for serious: IU had 18 turnovers tonight. And Purdue was able to score 22 points off these turnovers. Stop me if you’ve heard this one before.
2) Lots of fouls tonight. Purdue didn’t do the greatest job of converting (they were 21-of-31 from the line) but when your best two true bigs — Tom Pritchard and Bobby C. — along with Elston all have four fouls with just over 10 minutes to go in the second half, this is not a good thing.
3) Defense. Way too many open threes in the first half. Some difficulties helping and rotating.
And honestly: Yes, I know IU lost by 19 points tonight. And its the same as it ever was these last 11 games now. But let me paint you this picture. Say IU doesn’t dribble the ball off their feet and turn the ball over like the local Y team this evening. Say they close out on shooters, and instead of fouling so much, they make Purdue work for their points, and make them miss here and there.
This game is much closer. This is not IU down in the mid to high teens when it matter most; it’s IU within high single digits with a chance to strike and make things interesting. Of course, I’m not saying IU wins this game. That’s silly.
But I am saying that if this team can cut out some of the nonsense come Big Ten season next year, Creek and Roth return and the program doesn’t see wide-scale defection, the seeds are there for improvement and success.
And at this point, that’s all anyone’s asking for.