You know, Matt Painter might be pretty happy with the result Thursday, an 81-69 Purdue win at Assembly Hall — the Boilermakers’ eighth straight win over IU and 11th in the past 12 meetings — but just wait. Just wait until Archie Miller gets his guys in the pr—-
Indiana did indeed lose to Purdue again, remaining winless against the Boilers during Miller’s four seasons in Bloomington, which begs the question: If you can’t beat this Purdue team on your home floor, when is it going to happen? You have to think at some point IU will win another game in this series, but the Hoosiers sure don’t look much closer to getting there.
Here are Three Things:
Purdue shot the hell out of the ball. IU didn’t. Again.
After making only three of their 24 3-point heaves against Michigan State last week, the Boilers drained 11 deep balls on Thursday. Keep in mind that Purdue entered play shooting 30.8% from beyond the arc against conference opponents — the second-worst mark this Big Ten season. Even on a night when you thought water might find its level — Purdue hit seven of its first nine 3-pointers — the Boilers kept hitting big shots in the second half. IU, meanwhile? The Hoosiers couldn’t hit shots from near (55.2% at the line) or far (16.7% from 3). Consider that Purdue and Indiana both hit 25 field goals on Thursday, And yet. It’s the same story, just a different night. What’s worse, look at this (or don’t):
Indiana's second-half shot chart is pic.twitter.com/A7UJ3pReKU— Eamonn Brennan (@eamonnbrennan) January 15, 2021
So much for a defensive identity
OK, Purdue hit some shots. Even so, IU’s defense has really fallen off since the start of the Big Ten grind. What we thought would be this team’s calling has instead been anything but. Across its seven conference games, Indiana ranks 10th in the league in defensive efficiency. All but one team (Maryland) has scored more than a point per possession against IU, and on Thursday, the Hoosiers yielded a season-worst 1.15 points per possession. Here’s where else IU ranks in terms of defense in conference play:
- Effective field goal percentage: 54.3 (11)
- 3-point percentage 40.4 (14)
- 2-point percentage 50.4 (7)
If this program can’t even play defense at a good-to-great (forget about elite) level halfway through Year 4, then what’s the point of seeing this whole thing through?
Seriously — shouldn’t this program do something well at this point?
The defensive fall-off is disappointing. The lack of shooting is maddening. But perhaps the part that’s most difficult to reconcile is that this team just doesn’t play hard enough. How is it — on your home court against your hated rival — that it takes you 16 minutes to wake up and play with some semblance of focus and intensity? This is a sloppy basketball program run by a guy who isn’t getting through to his players. Or maybe his message is wrong. Either way, the evidence is there, and it is striking. And when that’s the case … you can either pretend not to see the evidence — the cold, hard facts laid bare before you — or you can hope against hope that a miracle isn’t far away. But right now, this isn’t working. It hasn’t been working. And when enough people believe or admit it’s not working, that’s when donors and search firms and moving companies get called. Or, at least, they should.