Long break has Purdue working out the kinks
By Michael Osipoff 648-3137 or firstname.lastname@example.org December 25, 2012 10:10PM
The Big Number
The games Purdue has won in which it trailed in the second half. The Boilermakers fell behind Ball State 47-45 with 8:33 left, before winning 66-56. They also fell behind UNC Wilmington 31-30 with 19:07 left, before winning 66-40.
Matt Painter was asked about the development of Ronnie Johnson. The coach said the freshman point guard has the potential to have a 3-to-1 assist-to-turnover ratio, but currently has about a 1-to-1 (32 assists, 29 turnovers). “He has a ways to go,” Painter said after the Boilermakers defeated Ball State. “The thing that he does have, he has the ability to do it; that’s what’s exciting. … Ronnie is trying hard, but in terms of running the team, he has to have fewer turnovers, he has to take better shots, he has to get more people involved. He has to start thinking the game, especially time and score. He made a couple critical mistakes at the end of the game, and he has to learn from them. You have to take those situations and be thankful it didn’t cost us, but learn from them so they don’t happen and understand why we should’ve been a little bit more patient. … But I’m glad we have him.”
Updated: January 27, 2013 6:29AM
WEST LAFAYETTE — Back to basics.
That was the approach Purdue planned to take during its Christmas break.
The Boilermakers defeated Ball State 66-56 on Dec. 18 at Mackey Arena, and don’t play again until a home game against William & Mary on Saturday. They were scheduled to practice last Wednesday and Thursday, before taking several days off and returning for a Wednesday night workout.
“More or less, just working on basic things, fundamental things,”
Purdue coach Matt Painter said when asked about the focus of the time between games. “We’re a team that beats ourselves; I think a lot of coaches would say that that struggle. Let’s make the other team beat us. Let’s take care of the ball, let’s rebound, let’s do the little things. We’re not a fundamentally sound team.
“We have to learn to run offense, and when we run a set or we run a certain play, when it’s not there, now how we probe the defense, we just don’t do a good job of executing. When it works for us, we’re fine; but when it doesn’t, you have to be able to probe the defense, move the basketball, screen, move, and make the defense break down.
We’re going to spend a lot of time on that, and just trying in all aspects of the game just to be better from a fundamental standpoint.”
That includes continuing to attempt to limit turnovers (Purdue actually committed nine against Ball State, matching a season low from its opener against Bucknell); locate some semblance of outside shooting (senior swingman D.J. Byrd is the Boilermakers’ only proven shooter, with other players more in the mold of drivers, and he obviously has struggled in that area to this point); and continue to grasp the importance of feeding the post, particularly finding freshman center A.J. Hammons and playing through him.
“Getting the ball inside really opens it up for everyone else on the perimeter,” Byrd said. “Getting the ball to the big guy right here (Hammons) and have him score strong really helps our team, both for him and for other players.”
The Boilermakers improved to 5-6 with their win against the Cardinals.
It is their worst start since the 2004-05 season, coach Gene Keady’s last one, when they were 4-6 heading into Big Ten play.
After playing William & Mary, Purdue begins this season’s Big Ten schedule against Illinois on Jan. 2, with a non-conference game against West Virginia on Jan. 19 in West Lafayette mixed in after five conference games.
“Even these next practices here before the little break we get, we have to approach those like games and really try to get better, because in the Big Ten season, that’s where the big boys play,” Byrd said after the Ball State game. “There are a lot of teams in the Big Ten this year that are really strong and Top 25, and have good coaches, good players. We have to be able to take it upon ourselves to play our role, do our job and play hard, and try to stop those teams that we play.”
Painter has been continuing to search for the right combinations on the floor. He was pleased with the group he started against Ball State, but criticized himself for his first round of substitutions in that game.
“A coach is waiting for the players to tell him what to do,” he said.
“And when you’re inconsistent, it’s hard as a coach to figure it out, because you like everybody, but who plays well together?
“I know this — no matter who we play, we have to make good decisions, we have to be consistent, we have to have that type of effort like (sophomore forward) Jacob (Lawson) had (against Ball State.)”