Chatting with the Enemy: Purdue

Dylan Burkhardt

Pete from the Purdue Basketball Blog agreed to answer some questions about Purdue’s season and their upcoming match-up with Michigan. You can find my answers to his questions here.

From my point of view, one of Purdue’s biggest problems has been their lack of quality point guard play. Has this been a problem? What is the latest on Lewis Jackson and what is Purdue doing to make up for their lack of a true point guard?

6’5 freshman Kelsey Barlow recently replaced senior Keaton Grant at point and had a solid game (12 pts, an assist and 2 TO’s). Barlow should do an adequate job while Lewjack recovers. To be completely honest he reminds me a lot of Manny Harris as his size creates mismatches against other PG’s. He’s not quite pulling the triple doubles like Harris yet though, haha. Unfortunately, TO’s are the risk when starting a freshmen at PG.

Grant can still help out at point. Despite losing the starting spot, he’s still an all-around good player capable of doing a lot of thing good (but nothing great). He’s more of a shooting guard that takes the ball up. Behind them is former walk-on Mark Wohlford. He can provide 6-8 minutes of efficient basketball.  Between the three of them, the point guard position is average. Obviously we are anxious for Lewjack to return, but it’s not our #1 concern among our other issues the team is facing.

Lewjack is still in recovery mode and there’s been speculation that he might be available in early February. But obviously nobody knows this early how long it will take…  People have tossed around the word red-shirt, but if he is made available the day before the NCAA tournament, I’d put money on him playing.

What will it take for Purdue to catch 6-0 Michigan State and get back in the conference title race after dropping 3 games last week?

Oh man, it’ll definitely be an uphill battle. I can say with confidence that two things NEED to happen if Purdue wants compete with MSU for the BTT. First, Johnson needs more involved offensively and on the boards. He averaged only 6 pts and under 6 rebs during Purdue’s 3 game losing streak. Secondly, someone needs to step up on the bench. (Newly benched) Keaton Grant, Ryne Smith, D.J. Byrd, and Patrick Bade haven’t been shooting very well and this puts a lot of pressure on the starters.

Redshirt freshman John Hart, who usually only sees mop-up time, put on a show in Champaign. He scored 14 pts, which is 8 more points than he has had all season. A lot fans are hoping he could help bridge that gap and earn his way into the rotation.

Kramer will obviously draw the Harris match-up, while Johnson will match up with Sims. Both Kramer and Johnson are tremendous defenders, how do you see these battles playing out?

I think both of those matchups will be a lot of fun to watch. With Kramer seeing limited minutes due to a sore ankle, I’d have to give the edge to Harris. Kramer’s lateral foot- speed has been hindered and I think Harris will be able to exploit it.

And as far as the Sims/Johnson battle, I’d have to give the edge to whoever can stay out of foul trouble. Johnson’s biggest defensive asset, shot blocking, also happens to be his biggest liability. When he gets in foul trouble he’ll either plays less aggressive or get benched. If Simms got JJ into foul trouble, he’d have a significant advantage. Conversely, if JJ manages to stay out of foul trouble early, he can be explosive on both offense and defense. Officially, I am going to call it a wash.

If you were game planning versus Purdue, what are two weaknesses that you would try to exploit?

Just two? That could be tough…. The first ‘weakness’ is Purdue’s ability to stop dribble penetration. Quicker guards like Turner and McCamey had no difficulty driving the lane and making Purdue pay. The second weakness is Purdue’s lack of depth. When the starters are benched due to foul trouble, the bench hasn’t given little to no production on offense.

Last year Purdue and Michigan split their two match-ups. The first involved the Kramer/Harris elbow incident and the second saw Harris and Sims explode in one of Michigan’s best performances of the year. We only get to play each other once this year, what’s your prediction for Saturday’s result?

This is a big game for Purdue and they are at a crossroad (sorry for the lame cliché). While a Purdue victory guarantees no future success, a loss at home would be emotionally devastating. Considering UM is coming off a tough loss against UW, and Purdue has some confidence to build off of, I give the edge to the Boilermakers. It’ll certainly be a good game, but I think Purdue wins the marathon. 68-62.

  • maxwell’s demon

    I agree with both blogs that I think Johnson v. Sims match up will be a huge key to this game. I have almost no confidence that we can pull this game off, although this team is impossible to predict. Even if we do come out and play inspired and play 40 minutes of good basketball I think we could easily lose this game as our best is not as good as theirs, and they need this too.

  • gpsimms

    so, now that i’m not hungover anymore, my optimism is back. Whenever we think this team has turned a corner, they lose; and whenever we think this team blew a major opportunity and all hope is lost, they win.

  • JB

    i don’t have much confidence about this game. however, we matched up with purdue surprisingly well last season, and purdue’s skidding these days. we could sure as hell use this one.

  • JayRich

    I’ll be at the game so I am definitely going to be rooting my brains out. I went to last year’s game that included the Kramer Vs. Manny’s elbow incident. Mackey has a decent crowd in terms of volume but when things are not going their way, they are completely quiet. We need to come out on fire early and take them out otherwise it will be a long day. The problem that Purdue presents to us is their two best defenders (Kramer and Johnson) naturally matchup with our two best players. We need Stu or LLP to setp up today (sound familiar). Who is going to guard Hummel (Novak????)

  • AG2

    I really do think Michigan is playing better basketball than the beginning of the season, but a major concern has been running out of gas in the 2nd half. I really hope that Beilein emphasizes that Michigan needs to win the 2nd half of games, because if you win the 2nd half, you don’t have to worry about whether your halftime lead will hold.

  • KDavis

    Whatever, Pete.

    Michigan 71
    Purdue 66


  • It seems like Sims often has trouble against larger defenders (the Wisconsin game is the first time I can remember this not being true), so I’m a little concerned about that matchup, particularly against Johnson, who is a good defender. Manny’s going to have to win this game, if we’re going to do it.

  • bluejays

    Who is gonna control Etwaun Moore? I don’t think we have the depth to win this on the road but we really need it — “signature win” (buzzword du jour) opportunities are dwindling.

  • michigan hoops 4eva

    I actually am confident. Last year we seemed to match up well against Purdue for whatever reason; we would’ve gone 2-0 against Purdue if the ref hadn’t thrown Manny Harris out of the game at Purdue.

    If Michigan comes hungry and plays more than 10 minutes of sound basketball, Michigan has a good chance of winning.

  • bluejays

    BTW we need this Zeigler. For the longest time I thought — completely ignorantly, based on his sorta German-ish name alone — that he was yet another brick-shooting 6-5 white guy from Indiana but then I discovered youtube. Yes, he’s 6-5, but he’s also awesome!!!

    Hopefully we don’t drop the ball on that one. If he goes to ASU, get ready for another long year.

  • intrpdtrvlr

    Hahaha. Alright, bluejays, good luck with Herr Zeigler!

  • Ken in Vegas

    Despite posting fairly regularly, blujays, you somehow managed to miss the 40 pics of Zeigler that have graced the home page over the last year. I can see how you thought he was white though.

  • I love Beilein

    ha did you think O’bama was Irish before the inaugaration?

  • Alex

    I’m not sure mental toughness itself is the problem. The real problem is that the team has shown flashes of greatness and has not been consistent. Lack of mental toughness may have played a role in the loss at Wisconsin but the fact that the team can be tough was proven in its lone (so far) road victory at Penn State. I think Michigan will come out firing in this game for a lot of reasons. It all boils down to this: Michigan wins this game and the fan base gets even more excited for the Spartan’s visit to Crisler because back-to-back victories over top 20 RPI teams would be huge.

    Also, I agree that so far this season has not gone as planned. However, there are still 12 games to be played and the schedule is tough enough that if Michigan goes 9 and 3 or 10 and 2 then it would be hard to deny them entry into the Tournament. If Michigan plays like the team of the first half of the season I can’t see this happening. If Michigan plays like it has so far in the second half then hey you never know. This game is huge and the team probably knows it so I think it will be closely fought and a much tighter outcome than some people think (like Wisconsin was). Hopefully we end up on the right side of this contest.

  • Drew

    I’m baffled by the ignorance in this thread today. Bluejays, you’re a Mich basketball fan but you didn’t even know who Zeigler was?

    And Hoops 4eva, if Manny doesn’t get thrown out we go 2-0 against Purdue last year? Dude it was just a close game in the first half, I feel like we may have even been losing at the time. To say we would have beat THAT Purdue team on the road is ridiculous. Have you not seen our composure the last 3 years on the road… it’s pathetic.

    And KDavis, did you really just predict a win tomorrow? I guess I’m in my most pessimistic mood in a while, but we just gave away a game to a really average Wisconsin team (without Leuer, that is) who played an awful game. To think we’re going to recover from that is, well… ridiculous.

    For all intensive purposes, I hope we come out with some unexpected fire tomorrow and win a game we shouldn’t. I’ll gladly take sh*t from all of you if that happens. I just don’t see it.

  • Paul F.

    Go Blue! Need wins like a baby needs milk. Nice job on the interview Dylan. Sounds like Purdue has the same problems we do. Lack of point guard play, defense gets carved up down the lane. Sims played his butt off against the Badgers. I hope he can do it again.

  • Ken in Vegas

    Nicely said, Drew. I cringed at all those comments as well. I don’t see us winning tomorrow either. Wisconsin was our chance. I think we have a better chance at home againt Michigan State. Our only goal going into these three games was to win 1 of 3 to keep our hopes alive, so we just have to get it done somehow, someway.

  • Giddings

    Nice, we’ve got Musberger and Bob Knight tomorrow – will be interesting to hear what Knight has to say about Beilein and the team.

  • KDavis

    Yes, Drew, I did. I have never been to a Michigan game, never even been to the state of Michigan. I live in Missouri. At 14-years-old, I thought I knew everything…by 17, I was living in my car. Since I was 11-years-old, UM football and basketball have been the only constants in my life. I’m a damaged fan, but I can hope…

    And I can predict a UM win tomorrow.

    And we don’t chat with the enemy. We elbow them in the face. (The last two sentences are a result of Old Spice swagger and should be disregarded.)

  • KDavis

    And, don’t worry, Drew…I understand that “hope” is generally reserved for burn victims and cancer patients, but I’m starting to realize there is no point in constantly sh*tting on the team. Am I being overly optimistic? Yeah, probably, but…we’re also seeing Sims play better than he ever has in his UM career. I expect Manny to bounce back and I believe the combo of Stu, Novak, and LLP will generate enough points to put us over Purdue. I’ve been impressed with our defense and rebounding of late. Wisconsin was ugly, but what game vs Wisconsin @ Wisconsin isn’t ugly? Hell, even their mascot logo is ugly.

  • maxwell’s demon

    Drew – While we are on the business of calling everyone out, you should know the phrase is all intents and purposes.

  • Maxwell’s: appreciate your consistently thoughtful posts.
    KDavis: happy that you’re here, and keep bringing the optimism. I’ve been a little bit down about these guys.

  • bluejays

    To those who have been hard on me for not correctly identifying Zeigler’s ethnicity, I have been on a bit of a hiatus from serious college ball watching. Not a fairweather fan (nobody who cheered for them in the early 2000s or after the Harvard loss could be considered one), but I just had some other things to worry about for a couple years, that made it hard to follow the intricacies of Detroit HS ball from across the river in Windsor. Ok?

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  • michigan hoops 4eva

    “I’m baffled by the ignorance in this thread today.”

    Drew, if you are going to call me out, at least have your facts straight. When Manny Harris was ejected in the early second half against Purdue last year, Michigan was up 29-27. So you are 100% wrong when you say “I feel like we may have even been losing at the time.”

    So knowing that, my assertion that Michigan would have been 2-0 against Purdue isn’t ‘ridiculous,’ and don’t ever call me out again if you aren’t COMPLETELY certain that I’m wrong.

  • Drew

    Haha I knew I was gonna get burned on here for that post. To my defense, I was riding a semi-buzz at the time, but I suppose I did have my wits about me for the most part

    1) I feel like a complete idiot for saying “all intensive purposes”… yikes.

    2) To KDavis and bluejays… wasn’t in a great mood after the loss Wednesday. To be honest, still not in a very good mood.

    3) And Hoops 4eva… Uh, there’s a reason I said “I FEEL LIKE”… Obviously I wasn’t fact checking, I was going from memory on a game that happened a year ago! Good god. And seriously, we were up by 2. Hmm, Michigan basketball, 2 point lead on the road against Purdue… OMG we were definitely going to win! Have you seen this team on the road the last ten years? How about 3 days ago against Wisconsin? Calmly pissed away a 9 point lead midway through the second half.

    And no, I’m not COMPLETELY certain you were wrong. Is there a chance we would have won that game? Of course. But do you really think it actually would have happened? Cause I sure as hell don’t.