© Old Gold Free Press Columnists
Conventional wisdom states that home court advantage is worth 5-7 points for the home team. For Purdue against Northwestern this year, the number was 23. The Boilers went from a 12 point loss in Evansville to an eleven point win in West Lafayette. That’s a swing that would appear to be a due to more than just sleeping in one’s regular bed. Experts say that home court advantage is due to a combination of comfort with familiar surroundings, crowd support (each increase in 10,000 fans is worth 0.1 more goals in the English Premier Soccer League for example), and other psychological factors. All the home court advantage analysis assumes that everything except venue is held equal. With this year’s Boilermaker/Northwestern series, however, there was one big factor that was not equal- Drey Mingo. Mingo’s return to pre-meningitis form has been progressing slowly but surely since she returned to the court on December 18 against Auburn. On Sunday, Drey emerged as the force she had been prior to becoming ill.
Purdue’s home court defensive intensity was evident from the opening tip. They pressured every pass and covered up Northwestern’s shooters. Amy Jaeschke, the Wildcat’s 6’5” center, was pushed to the top of the key and out of her comfort zone. Offensively, the Boilers slowly but surely found the basket enough times to build a lead. The Wildcats recorded their first field goal of the game at the 10:43 mark of the first half to make the score 13-4. The half was a defense-lover’s dream, as both sides had a difficult time finding the mark. Purdue had the edge rebounding the ball, and used their proficiency under the hoop to maintain their lead. The score at the half was 26-15 in Purdue’s favor.
Both teams came out of the locker room with a little more offensive spark. The teams spent the first five minutes trading baskets. At the first media time out the Purdue advantage had increased a point to 12 points, 35-23. The complexion of the game changed abruptly at the 12:57 mark when Amy Jaeshke’s elbow connected with Brittany Rayburn’s head. Brittany hit the court like a ton of bricks as Jaeschke was immediately T’ed up with for a deliberate foul. Sam Woods was pulled off the bench to shoot the free throws. From that point on, the Northwestern center was booed whenever she touched the ball. When she shot free throws at the 11:10 mark, the crowd went wild. Their boos for each shot were punctuated with a loud cheer when Rayburn returned to the bench. The injury served to ratchet Purdue’s defensive intensity up another notch, and the Boilers had no trouble maintaining a healthy lead. The final score was 54-43 in the home team’s favor.
Comments on Specific Aspects of the Game:
One of the constants this season has been Purdue’s poor shooting from the floor. Sunday was no different, with the Boilers hitting 32% from the field including an anemic 12% from beyond the arc. The team is concentrating on offensive rebounding and hitting free throws because that is the only way they will be able to win games until their shooting efficiency picks up. That’s a tough way to succeed in the Big 10, and time will tell how far it can take the Boilers.
Purdue’s defensive effort was stellar on Sunday. They held the high-scoring Wildcats to 32% from the field, including a mere 7% from behind the arc. The Wildcats were charged with 19 turnovers, 9 of which were credited as Purdue steals.
Purdue pulled down 54 rebounds to 43 from the visitor. Included in this total is a remarkable 19 offensive rebounds. Mingo led the way with 11 caroms.
Free Throw Shooting:
The Boilers’ success from the charity stripe wasn’t up to past efforts, but they still connected on 16 of 24 attempts for 67%. Courtney Moses was perfect from the line.
The players are running the offensive sets to the best of their abilities. They still have troubles getting off good shots during many possessionsOften the passing appears a beat slow, and in this time the defense is able to adjust. The team recorded 18 turnovers on the afternoon, more than one would like, but understandable given the intensity of the defensive effort.
For the first time since her illness, Drey Mingo was a dominant force. Drey has a nose for the ball, putting her in the position to corral rebounds. Her best asset is her ability to finish her shots even while being pushed or hacked. Finally, when the defense pushes her away from the paint, she’ll hit her outside shots as well. Purdue is a completely different team when Drey is playing well, and the Boilers chances for post-season play may hinge on her continued excellence. In all, Mingo recorded a total of 17 points (6-10, 1-1 3 pt.er, 4-7 FT), 11 rebounds, 2 assists and 1 steal, to 2 turnovers.
Alex Guyton is working on keeping out of foul trouble. It appeared as if the coaching staff is helping her in this regard by pulling her and sitting her whenever she commits an infraction. When she was on the floor, Alex did a very good job getting to the hoop. As soon as Alex manages to play with aggression without committing fouls, she and Drey will combine to form an extremely formidably backcourt. Alex recorded a total of 6 points (3-7), 4 rebounds, 4 steals, and an assist to 3 turnovers.
Brittany Rayburn’s sciatic nerve problem is severely affecting her shot. She was short on most of her attempts from the field, including all of her three point attempts. Rayburn is finding other ways to get her points, particularly from the free throw line. Brittany has not stopped taking charges, and left the game with some head stitches she did not have when it started. Brittany shared a few words with Jaeschke after the game, and made it clear that she harbors no grudge against the Wildcat center. In all, the Attica native recorded 11 points (2-14, 0-6 3 pt.ers, 7-9FT), 3 rebounds, 2 assists and 2 turnovers.
Courtney Moses experienced what it was like to play a Big 10 team for the second time. The Wildcats now take her shooting ability very seriously, and increased the number and types of traps and other defensive tricks designed to stop the freshman. Courtney struggled a bit as a result. It’s all part of being a freshman and Moses’ learning curve is so steep there’s little doubt that she’ll rise to the occasion in the future. Moses finished the afternoon with a total of 9 points (3-9 1-6 3 pt.er, 2-2 FT) 6 rebounds 3 assists and a steal to 5 turnovers.
Chantel Poston had a very solid game. Her ball handling has improved to the point that she can help run offensive sets and she continues to shoot when the opportunity presents itself. Chantel is an extremely effective defender in man to man sets as she can stick with anybody. Poston finished the afternoon with 4 points (2-5), 3 rebounds, 2 assists and a steal to 1 turnover.
Antionette Howard can do everything except put the ball through the basket. Several times she got right to the hoop and took the lay-up only to see the ball fall off the rim. One hopes she doesn’t stop shooting, as it’s only a matter of time before they drop. Howard recorded a total of 2 points (1-4 0-1 3 pt.er), 2 rebounds and an assist to 3 turnovers.
Brittany’s injury has moved Dee Dee back to the back-up point guard role. She was pressed into action after Courtney picked up fouls, and did a good job keeping the team moving. Towards the end of the game Dee Dee was put in on defense, and did an excellent job preventing the person she was defending from penetrating for a score. In all Dee Dee recorded 1 point (0-2, 1-2 FT) 4 rebounds, an assist, a steal, and the team’s only blocked shot.
Sam Ostarello’s shot didn’t drop but she played hard and under control. Sam finished with 3 rebounds, and a turnover.
Chelsea Jones did an excellent job pushing Amy Jaeschke away from the low block. Jone’s defense was the primary reason why she played as many minutes as she did, but Chelsea did a good job in other facets or the game as well. She may never be a person who looks to score first, Chelsea is working harder to get herself in position to score and taking the shot when she’s in position. Jones finished with 3 points (1-2, 1-2 FT), 4 rebounds an assist and a steal.
Sam Woods entered the game to take the technical free throws in place of Brittany Rayburn. Sam was cold, but managed to hit one of the two for a point. She also committed a turnover during her time on the court.
The game began with Sharon Versyp accepting her 100 wins game ball. She hit the century mark earlier this year. Congratulations!
The coaching staff is faced with this situation: Post players that hit a combined 9 for 17 from the field (53%) and guards who connected on 5 of 23 (22%). One of the reasons that the guards are taking so many shots is that they are the last resort as the shot clock is ticking down. It is up to the coaching staff to design and run plays that get the ball into the post more efficiently. In addition to this, they are emphasizing offensive rebounding and making free throws.
The officials were standard Big 10 order, guaranteed to enrage the crowd on more than one occasion. It is always amusing to watch Northwestern’s head coach Joe McKeown react to calls as he responds to any call against his players as if, to quote Tim Newton, “they have just shot his dog.”.
The Gold and Black Sound was up to full numbers, and 11 tubas made the long journey to center court for their special song. The announced attendance was 9437, and they had plenty to scream about. The injury to Brittany put the crowd in a foul mood, and they were increasingly vocal about poor calls. For the first time this year, Drey was cheered for her great performance, not for merely being on the court. It’s a sign that perhaps things are returning to normal for everyone.
With the win the Boilers improved to 3-3 in the Big 10. If they can play on the road with at least 75% of the intensity that they can muster at home, they have a good chance of improving on that record and rising up the Big 10 ranks.
Game Ball: Drey Mingo