© Old Gold Free Press Columnists
If anyone had told Sharon Versyp that Purdue would be tied with Iowa and Ohio State at the mid-point of the Big 10 schedule, she probably would have been ecstatic. She would have assumed that the Boilers were exactly where they wanted to be; leading the conference and positioning themselves for a high NCAA seed. Not so in this year. Everything’s upside down this season, with the consensus picks for winning the Big 10 tied for 5th place, behind the likes of Wisconsin, Michigan, and Penn State. Only the Michigan State Spartans have performed as predicted, and they have emerged as the league’s best team. Another squad that is living up, or rather down, to their pre-season predictions is the Indiana Hoosiers. Both the coaches and media thought that they’d remain in the Big 10 basement, and to date they’ve done just that. Losing their senior three point shooting ace, Whitney Lindsay hasn’t helped in that regard and the struggling Hoosiers limped into Mackey with a 2-6 mark in the conference along with an overall losing record.
Purdue began the game with the goal of establishing an inside presence. A Mingo lay-up, and one, with less than 30 seconds elapsed gave the Boilers a lead that they would never relinquish. The Old Gold and Black concentrated on getting the ball to the low block, and in most instances either Dray or Alex Guyton were able to finish. At the first media time out the score was 11-4 in Purdue’s favor. In the final five minutes, the Boilers discovered their perimeter players, and went from delivering the ball inside on every possession to shooting triples. Brittany Rayburn and Courtney Moses scored the final 13 points of the half for the home team. Meanwhile, the Hoosiers were having troubles getting off their shots. Dee Dee Williams blanketed their highest scorer, Jori Davis, and she turned the ball over on multiple offensive possessions. The score at the half was 30-21 in the Boiler’s favor.
Like the first half, the second stanza began with Purdue dominating on the low block. Alex Guyton began with 5 straight points, but the entire team moved the ball efficiently and found the open shooter on most possessions. The Hoosiers, particularly Hope Elam was able to knock down outside shots, but the Cream and Crimson couldn’t hang with the home team. With 10:23 to play the Boilers were up 15, 52-37. At that point, substitution patterns put both Dee Dee Williams and Chantel Poston on the bench for the first time all game. This allowed Davis the breathing room she needed to get her points. Six unanswered points and 2 minutes later, Versyp called a time out to readjust the personnel on the court and renew her charge’s focus. Dee Dee came back and resumed her tenacious defense. Courtney Moses was hot, and her teammates found her behind the arc repeatedly. The Hoosiers never seriously threatened in the second half, and left the court 14 points behind. The final score was 71 – 57.
Comments on Specific Aspects of the Game
The Boilers have recently struggled through a series of games in which they could barely crack the mid-century mark. On Sunday, however, the offense operated like a well-oiled machine. The Boilers moved the ball efficiently in the half court, and turned turnovers into fast break opportunities and points in transition. There were a few – well more than a few – missed lay-ups that put a blemish on the overall effect, but Sunday’s game was one of the team’s better offensive efforts of the season. Statistically, this translates into 45% shooting for the game, including a scorching 47% from behind the arc.
The Hoosiers were held to 36% shooting from the field. The story of the game, however, was the Hoosiers 20 turnovers including 10 from Jori Davis. The ability of Dee Dee and Chantel to lock down IU’s highest scorer was the reason the Boilers cruised on Sunday.
Purdue won the battle of boards, 38 to 33. It was a true team effort, with every player pulling down at least one carom. Drey Mingo led the charge with 7 rebounds.
Free Throw Shooting:
Purdue is currently 7th nationally in free throw shooting percentage with 77%. They might have inched up a place or two after Sunday’s 82% effort from the stripe. Brittany Rayburn did nothing to hurt her standing as the nation’s 4th best individual free throw shooter as she was perfect going 1 for 1. She was joined in the 100% club by Drey Mingo.
It’s amazing how much smarter everyone looks when their shots are dropping. The team looked as sharp as a tack, making the extra pass in order to find an open player. Overall, the team recorded 18 assists to 17 turnovers.
Drey Mingo has regained her pre-meningitis form. Her combination of toughness and speed on the block is very difficult for others to match. Dray’s most welcome attribute is her ability to finish around the rim. In an excellent outing, Mingo recorded 16 points (6-10, 1-2 3 pt.er, 3-3 FT), 7 rebounds, 3 assists and a blocked shot to 4 turnovers.
Alex Guyton continues to mature as a post player, and she had another very solid outing. She still has a tendency to pick up silly fouls by being too aggressive, and was Dairy Queened with 38 seconds left in the game. Both Alex and Drey attempted ten shoots during the game, and that type of balance makes them both more difficult to defend. Alex finished with 11 points (4-10, 3-4 FT), 2 rebounds, and an assist, blocked shot, and turnover.
Brittany Rayburn looked comfortable for the first time in several weeks. Not only was her shot dropping, but she made an impact in all other facets of the game. Brittany played very good perimeter defense, stepping into passing lanes for steals and closing out lanes to the bucket. Here’s hoping Rayburn’s back allows her to continue to play at the same level for the remainder of the season. When the afternoon was over, Rayburn has scored 17 points (7-12, 2-4 3 pt.er, 1-1 FT), 3 rebounds, 4 assists and 6 steals to 2 turnovers.
Courtney Moses got some advice from recent graduate Jodi Howell after the alumni game: SHOOT the ball. Courtney made most of her hay behind the three point line, punishing the Hoosier defense when they failed to cover her. There’s no mistaking the talented freshman for a shooting guard, however, as Moses first and foremost leads the team and sets up the entire offense. Moses recorded a game-high 23 points (8-15, 5-8 3 pt.ers, 2-3 FT), 3 rebounds, 4 assists and 2 steals to 2 turnovers.
Dee Dee Williams is probably in Jori Davis’ nightmares. She managed to stay in front of the wily senior, preventing penetration without fouling. Williams’ basketball IQ is absolutely remarkable, and her ability to be in the right place at the right time is responsible for many of her rebounds and steals. Williams finished with a total of 2 points (1-5, 0-1 3 pt.er), 6 rebounds, 4 assists and 2 steals to 3 turnovers.
Antionette Howard’s ability to pass in traffic is the best on the team. There is no drop off when Nette steps on the court, and this high level of play wears out the other team. Howard’s shot clock beating jumper broke the spirits of the Hoosiers. In all, the transfer recorded 2 points (1-3, 0-1 3 pt.er), 2 rebounds, 2 assists, and a steal to 1 turnover.
Sam Ostarello was on the court for 13 minutes. During her time on the court she played within herself, sticking to the low block where she could pull down rebounds. SamO appears to be maturing as a player, and her playing time should begin to climb as her level of play increases. If her career follows previous late bloomers, Sam’s scoring totals will start to climb as well. SamO failed to score (0-3, 0-1 3 pt.ers), but did pull down 5 rebounds, and had a blocked shot to 2 turnovers.
Chelsea Jones’ strengths lie with closing off lanes, interior defense, and bodying up physical post players. Indiana has quicker, less physical players which are more difficult for Jones to handle. She pulled down 2 rebounds during her time on the court.
Chantel Poston took over defensive responsibilities when Dee Dee took a breather. Chantel uses raw physical explosiveness rather than length, but the results are the same. Chantel did not connect on her single shot attempt, but she did pull down 3 rebounds in 8 minutes.
Samantha Woods has been the odd woman out now that the rotation has tightened. She has the maturity to remain engaged and give her all when called upon. Woods pulled down a rebound and blocked a shot during her time on the court.
Versyp knows how to beat Indiana, and appeared thrilled with the team’s high level of play Sunday. The barrier that divides the Boilers from having as successful a season as they’d like is how the team plays on the road. No doubt the coaching staff is open to any ideas in that department.
The officials were none of the “name” referees that one sees in the post season. Either because or in spite of this fact, they were quite good.
The reported attendance was 9726, and Mackey was full and rocking. It was the Boiler Black Out Game, and the amount of black was certainly increased in the arena. The band was in black, with the noticeable exception of a single Golden Girl look-alike. It was also alumni day, and a large number of players – from the ‘60’s club team members to last year’s Jodi Howell and FahKara Malone- where in the house. It was a very impressive turnout, and the crowd seemed to appreciate seeing some of their old favorites.
The Boilers seem to be hitting their stride at a good point in the season. The team’s primary problem remains their inability to bring any of their defensive intensity or shooting accuracy on the road. If the Boilers are able to take that next step forward, they have a decent chance of steadily climbing the Big 10 standings. The Old Gold and Black next takes on the Iowa Hawkeyes. The Hawks were predicted to be one of the best Big 10 teams this year, but are hoping to take over sole possession of 5th place with a win over Purdue. With the game played in the friendly confines, however, the Boilers have a very good chance of emerging the winner.
Game Ball: Dray Mingo