Yes, this game happened two days ago, but I was without computer, and Loretta was in Dallas, not to mention the TicketCity Bowl took precedence.
But anyway, now it's time to wrap up NU's 0-1 start to Big Ten play. A lot of factors went into NU losing to Purdue Friday, one is that Purdue is one of the best teams in the country. Go back and watch E'Twaun Moore's threes. Yes, a few of them are due to poor rotations or Purdue exploiting the 1-3-1 defense. One of them features a gimpy John Shurna jogging on a run-out while Moore drains a three over his head. However, the majority of his 31 points and his seven threes were simply him outclassing Northwestern. Sometimes, a player gets hot. Moore was spewing flaming embers.
After the jump, I'll break down other stuff.
- John Shurna looked gimpy. Not good for our hopes of winning right off the bat. Purdue also didn't give him any room whatsoever to shoot from downtown - he only got two looks from three on the game. Combine this with Drew Crawford's 1-6 shooting (also due to intense man-to-man defense) and there wasn't much hope for a Northwestern win. Shurna needs to drop 15+ for NU to win, but Purdue wouldn't give him the looks he needed. I thought NU would have a chance to use Purdue's overaggressive play against them by hitting them with lots of backdoors and pop-outs, but, with Johnson clogging the paint (more on this!), the paint wasn't a worry, and Purdue played picture-perfect off-the-ball defense on Crawford and Shurna, making NU's two best scorers non-factors. The "ehh, screw it, Juice, pull a jumper" was NU's best offense.
- I don't get mad at basketball players for being bad, except in the one rare scenario I call "the Mardy Collins", wherein a bad player thinks they are very good. I get mad at their coaches for playing them. However, I'm mad at Luka Mirkovic, even after he played his best offensive game of the season. When I was a middle schooler, I was taught of something called "the triple threat position", pronounced by my Trinidadian gym teacher as "the triple tret position". The theory is that you can pass, shoot, or dribble at the same time. This technology has not gotten to Mirkovic. Luka is, surprisingly, a potent jump shooter. I've said this since he was a freshman. But as soon as he gets the ball, he makes up his mind whether he wants to shoot or pass, and if he doesn't want to shoot, he doesn't even look at the basket, he just prepares to make a dribble handoff. JaJuan Johnson played off Mirkovic for nearly the entire game. On two plays, Mirkovic switched it up on him and shot threes, he hit both. But for most of the game, Johnson backed off while Mirkovic made it clear he wanted to pass. This not only completely shut down the lane for Shurna and Crawford, but Mirkovic's telegraphed drives nearly all ended poorly, including a forceful block by Johnson on a weak left-handed effort that set back the Serbian economy decades. When Luka is open, as he frequently is, he needs to look to shoot so that the defense has to respect him.
- Alright, I hate to say it, but I'm sold on Mike Capocci. Murderous in the passing lanes in his 10-minute stint, even if he is an offensive zero, he knows the Princeton Offense and had some nice looks. He deserves the playing time more than Jeff Ryan or Ivan Peljusic, certainly.
- Person to replace my dislike for Chris Kramer: Ryne Smith. Started out 0-5 from 3 only to nail two daggers, also went 7-7 at the line while generally being all annoying and hustle-y. Guh.
- A little disappointed with the absence of Patrick "My mind is telling me no but Patrick Bade is telling me yes" Bade in the lineup for Purdue, because after all, Patrick Bade is a wonderland. I'll settle for Terone Johnson, who is awful.
JerShon Cobb will be a very good player someday. Deadly midrange off the dribble - he can create his own shot better than anybody at NU I've seen besides Coble/Shurna - still not convinced he can finish at the hoop.
- Davide Curletti does not have Mirkovic's trepidation with shooting. He guns. At least you have to step out on him.
- NU got badly outrebounded, but I won't blame it on them entirely - a lot of loose balls just ended up going the wrong way.
- I referenced this in the caption above, but, Luka Mirkovic hit two threes, and when he did, he made the Euro hand symbol for 3, which looks kinda like a double Texas Tech PEW PEW PEW finger gun. It made everybody in Purdue hate him. It was awesome.
- NU played the entire second half in the matchup zone, and quite frankly, it was very effective against a team that I thought would kill it. The 1-3-1 did a very good job on JaJuan Johnson - post about this next week - but allowed open looks for shooters, including Moore and Smith, even if Smith missed all of them. Purdue definitely practiced a lot against the zone prepping for NU - lots of ball movement, few turnovers, and good decision making by all Purdue players except Johnson against the zone.
- 9-16 from the line? Stop it.