Death From Above: At Purdue

Submitted by Brian on January 24th, 2012 at 4:11 PM

ept_sports_ncaab_experts-527140955-1287505622[1]THE ESSENTIALS

WHAT Michigan at Purdue
WHERE Mackey Arena, West Lafayette, IN
WHEN 7 PM Eastern, 1/24/2012
LINE Purdue -4 (Kenpom)


Michigan starts paying debts incurred during their soft, home heavy opening stretch tonight against perennial tourney participant Purdue. This edition of the Boilers is something less than the Johnson-Moore led teams, which were widely hyped as final four contenders before Robbie Hummel's ACL was the first of all Purdue ACLs to GTFO, starting my favorite elephant-and-ligament-based internet meme:


Hummel will be picking up extra years of eligibility from now to eternity; right now he is a senior and the Boilers' leader. He's the only Purdue player to average more than 70% of available minutes and launches over 31% of his team's shots when he's on the floor. While he hasn't been a terrific shooter (42% on twos, 35% on threes) his extremely low turnover rate makes him an efficient high-volume player.

Diminutive point guard Lewis Jackson and sniper Ryne Smith are the other major parts of the Boiler offense. Jackson is a penetrator and setup man who gets to the line and shoots 52% from two. He isn't much of a three-point shooter but he's too quick for that to affect his game. Trey Burke's played well defensively so far and seems to have the quickness to stay in front of Jackson; if he can prevent the penetration that is the heart of Jackson's game that will go a long way towards slowing the Purdue offense down. Easier said than done.

Smith gets off more than six three-pointers per game and hits 43% of them. That is his role in the offense, full stop. He averages less than a two-point attempt per game.

Guard types Terone Johnson, Kelsey Barlow, Anthony Johnson, and DJ Byrd will also see chunks of time. Barlow is a 6'5" guy who is reasonably efficient with low usage; he gets to the line. He is likely to draw Hardaway defensively; last year he was frustratingly erratic and ended up suspended for "conduct detrimental to the team." Both small forwards seem emotionally volatile, so this matchup could go one way or the other quickly.

Johnson was Purdue's top recruit last year and had a bench role; he succeeds with "aggression." He is an exception to the rule for Purdue:

Of course, the one thing I haven't addressed yet is the abysmal shooting from the Michigan State game. Let's face it: aside from Barlow, Lewis Jackson, and Terone Johnson, we're a jump shooting team. If they are falling, we look good. If Robbie Hummel is 0 for 926,012,965 (approximate) we're not going to look good. Rob looked awful on Saturday and dejected as a whole.

The center position is a platoon of three underclassmen who have ridiculously small usage, very high TO rates, and mainly contribute with offensive rebounding. Hummel is the only other guy on the roster taller than 6'5". Purdue is a short team overall.


Purdue's conference schedule is an eerie inversion of Michigan's, with losses to Wisconsin, Penn State (by 20!), and Michigan State. They have beaten Iowa twice in two attempts, unlike Michigan. Both teams have beaten Minnesota; Purdue also has a win over Illinois.

Their nonconference schedule is kind of eh. They have a few victories over opponents in the bottom half of the Kenpom top top 100 (#61 Iona, #52 Temple, #76 Miami (That Miami)) and losses against #18 Alabama, #51 Xavier, and #133 Butler.


Four factors:

Factor Offense (Rk) Defense (Rk) Avg
Effective FG%: 50.3 130 47.6.0 125 49
Turnover %: 14.8 1 21.9 113 20.8
Off. Reb. %: 33.3 142 31.2 114 32.5
FTA/FGA: 36.8 158 37.6 206 36.5

Purdue is middling at everything except taking care of the ball, at which they are the best in the country. Other tempo free stats that jump out are terrible free-throw shooting (63%), poor three-point defense, and a somewhat high rate of threes.


Hello more Douglass. Horford is still out so expect more small lineups featuring Stu Douglass against a team that is pretty small and appears to ignore their posts offensively.

Somebody other than Novak shoot straight. Or get it to Novak, but he's never going to be a huge usage guy. Michigan's two point shooting has still been pretty good in the tougher section of the schedule. The bleeding is coming from three, where Evan Smotrycz, Tim Hardaway, and to a lesser extent Matt Vogrich and Douglass are renovating Crisler brick by brick. Hardaway is averaging almost six threes a game and hitting 27%. Smotrycz has dropped ten points off his three point shooting in an awful slump; Douglass is at 33%, Vogrich 23%.

I'm not sure how much of that is random chance and how much of it is poor shot selection, but the trend is clear. Michigan is a terrific two-point-shooting team and launches 44% of their shots from three. That's just the offense. Michigan has to start hitting. There's not really another option.

Except for Hardaway. Hardaway has options. Good God, man, you are 6'5" and can jump out of the gym. Go to the hoop. I want Hardaway to commit a charge per game from here on out. If he gets an open three, fine, but no more of this contested jack stuff. His shot selection is becoming getting reminiscent of Manny Harris.

Watch Hummel self-destruct, or just destruct. Purdue's coming off a hammering at the hands of Michigan State in which Robbie Hummel went 0 of 11 from the floor. If that happens again Purdue is not winning. That is not going to happen again. Hopefully this won't, either:


Hummel has been very good against Michigan in the past and will be in the friendly confines of Mackey; do not expect a repeat.

If you're getting the vibe that terrible shooting from people you think are good shooters has plagued both teams, well, yeah. Whoever ends up losing this game is going to sink further into their ice-cold funk.

Keep Jackson out of the lane. As I said above, easier said than done but if Burke can D Jackson up like he did Jordan Taylor that is huge.


Purdue by 4.


Previews abound. Choose from Hammer and Rails, UMHoops, and Holding The Rope. The Purdue-oriented preview doesn't distinguish between offensive rebounding and defensive, so maybe not that one.



January 24th, 2012 at 4:16 PM ^

because so far, you are usually wrong. keep up the good work!

(somebody's probably asked already, but why "Death From Above" for bball previews?)


January 24th, 2012 at 4:38 PM ^

They've gone from "the Final Four isn't out of the question" to "I remember when Keady's teams didn't have to plan for the second week of the tournament either."

When the perimeter shots are falling, Purdue can be a good team. Perhaps the younger players will develop eventually, but this team is eerily like last year's team with JJ and 'Twaun gone ... meaning not replaced. No inside scoring, no reliable scoring options aside from Hummel. Byrd and Smith can provide points on occasion, and Jackson does a credible job running the offense, but this is not the same kind of team that Painter has had the last couple of years. (Terone Johnson - 18 of 53 from the line. That's approaching fat-guy-at-his-laptop accuracy.)

The defense has not really been there often enough, which makes their steal percentage puzzlingly high ... and in particular, their perimeter defense has not been good. That happened two years ago as well, but it wasn't that big of a deal because shots in the paint went the other direction quickly and Moore, Johnson, and half-season Hummel did a fine job of compensating at the other end. This season, it's a problem. Michigan needs to hit open looks from the arc, because they're going to get some.


January 24th, 2012 at 4:59 PM ^

Did anyone else read the WolverineNation guilty pleasures question article? Where other guys were talking about food and typically female interests, Hardaway's "guilty pleasure" is jacking up contested threes... Come on man!


January 24th, 2012 at 6:41 PM ^

I gots it and I can't shake it for some reason.  Michigan by 7.  I was confident going in to the Arkansas also, and we jumped out to a ~15 point defecit post-Bama-Kentucky viewing, so my optimism can probably take a hike.

As always, and to mimic Brian, Timothy Hardaway Junior get your ass to the hole.  Go Blue.