Monday, February 16, 2009

Purdue Preview and Q&A with

Like all of the games left on the schedule, tonight's game at Purdue is a must win. The Spartans are coming off of a one week hiatus and they will have to be in perfect form to beat the Boilermakers in West Lafayette.

Purdue (19-6 Overall, 8-4 in the Big Ten)

Key Wins:
at Wisconsin 65-52

Key Losses:
vs. Oklahoma 87-82 (Neutral)
vs. Duke 76-60
vs. Illinois 71-67 (OT)
at Penn State 67-64
at Illinois 66-48
at Ohio State 80-72 (OT)

Why Purdue Could Win
1) Pressure Defense - Over the last year and a half, Purdue has won games because they play great, high pressure defense. They extend well beyond the three-point line and harass ball handlers constantly. The Boilermakers are led defensively by Chris Kramer who has a game very similar to Travis Walton. He normally defends the opposing team's best guards, but he is not really an offensive threat. Inside, Purdue has a great shot blocker in JuJuan Johnson who leads the Big Ten with 2.5 blocks per game. He also is their leading scorer in Big Ten contests.
2) Purdue Runs an Effective Offense - They are second in the Big Ten in team field goal percentage at 45%. JuJuan Johnson is shooting 56% from the floor so far this year in conference play.
3) Defensive Rebounding - While Purdue has only a +0.7 rebounding margin within the Big Ten, they actually lead the conference in defensive rebounds. They even edge out Michigan State. If they can keep Michigan State off of the offensive glass, the Spartans will be in a world of hurt since their offense thrives on second chance points. Robbie Hummel leads the Boilermakers with 7.3 rebounds per game.
4) Robbie Hummel - The Boilermaker star has been battling back problems for weeks now, but did play 24 minutes in their last game. Although he only had two points in that contest, it would only be fitting that he has a comeback game against us. It seems like that always happens to the Spartans.

My Keys to a Spartan Victory
1) Defense - We must hold Purdue to their conference scoring average of 63 points per game. This is going to be a defensive battle and if we allow them to convert open looks or easy buckets down low, we won't win this game. We also must continue our dominance on the glass, especially on the defensive end.
2) Limit Turnovers - Last year was a nightmare in West Lafayette as the Spartans had 17 turnovers. We will want Kalin Lucas to push the ball up the court, but he will have to be controlled in doing so. If we limit ourselves to less than 13 turnovers, I think we will win.
3) X-Factor(s) - Once again, our offense can go to the next level if Durrell Summers or Chris Allen shows up tonight. We can't afford an 0-8 performance from either one of these guys. We also can't afford any defensive lapses or ridiculous travel calls by them either.
4) Inside Presence - We need to establish our offense down low again like we did against Michigan. Sure, JuJuan Johnson is an intimidating presence in the paint, but we can't just settle for jump shots, especially ones just inside the three point line. We are a much better team when we attack the rim.
5) Free Throws - Although Purdue is worse than us at the line, we need to make sure that we knock down a high percentage of our freebies. Just having good form doesn't count. You need to step in there and knock them down.

They say that defense wins championships, but tonight, it will be the offenses that will determine the outcome of the game. Both teams are going to play excellent defense, but who will be able to points up on the board. Purdue will have the home court advantage and will be forcing a lot of MSU turnovers, but will they have an effective Robbie Hummel? Will he and E'Twaun Moore be the type of players that were selected to the Preseason Big Ten First Team?

In the end, I see Michigan State benefiting from their time off and having a full week to prepare for this game. I think they will take surprisingly good care of the ball and continue to rebound like they have all season. If they just do these two things, the game will at least be close at the end. If they can get Allen or Summers to contribute, they will win the game convincingly.

Michigan State over Purdue 64-59

Pregame Quotes
"Raymar Morgan could play 15-20 minutes. I'm going in thinking we're not going to get much out of him [Raymar Morgan]. Whatever we get is a bonus." --Tom Izzo

Um....I disagree. This is the type of game that Raymar would often disappear in when he was healthy, so I don't think that throwing him in there for as many as twenty minutes is a very good idea when he is coming off of an illness. If he has been looking good in practice, I would give him the Marquise Gray treatment. Get him some minutes early and see what he can give you. If doesn't play well, then sit him down.

“I’ve got to admit, I’m excitedly looking forward to this game. Some games you worry about – I’m excited.” --Tom Izzo

Other Notes
1) Check Out My Q&A Session With - Check out the Michigan State feature here.
2) Delvon Roe Shares Big Ten Player of the Week Honors - His 14 points and 10 rebounds against Michigan was enough for him to be co-player of the week with Joe Krabbenhoft.
3) MSU #5 in ESPN/Coaches and #6 in AP - This makes us in a prime position to get upset. Hopefully not tonight.

That's Ridiculous
1) J-Rich Can't Drive 55 - Actually, he was clocked 55 mph over the speed limit. An officer found Richardson going 90 mph in a 35 mph zone. To top it all off, he had his three-year old son with him and was cited for not having him in a car seat. I guess we can all be happy that he didn't have any tree or any guns on him. He gets points for that doesn't he?

Tomorrow - Purdue Post Game

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