Purdue Survives Northwestern, Advances to 2-0 in B1G

By KEITH CARRELL
@BoilerColts
ISL Purdue Writer

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. — Offense for Defense, Haas for Haarms; the oft-used strategy by Purdue head coach Matt Painter this season was once again triumphant against a physical Northwestern squad. The duo led the Boilers to a 74-69 victory over the Wildcats Sunday afternoon.

Northwestern won the tip and struck first, scoring six of the game’s first eight points. Purdue commandeered the ensuing moments and scored the next twelve points to take the momentum and the lead. Isaac Haas played with authority as his mean-streak continued to grow this season and played extended, foul-free, minutes to start the game before exiting with four points and three rebounds in just over six minutes before Matt Haarms gave him a breather. Haarms picked up where Haas left off and chipped in four points, three boards, and two blocks over the next five minutes to keep the Boilermakers rolling, building a 24-13 advantage with eight minutes remaining in the opening half. Haarms is such a spark of energy that he even gets excited when returning to the bench; when he was replaced by Haas, he pumped his fist at midcourt and let out a jubilant scream before sprinting to the end of the bench.

Northwestern fought back, answering with a 14-to-one run of their own to take a slim lead over the host Boilers. A back-and-forth bout continued for the rest of the half that saw the teams go to their corners with a split decision, a 33-33 tie.

The bell rung and the teams started fresh in the second half. Vincent Edwards splashed home a jumper as Purdue struck first, but the teams continued exchanging punches throughout the half, one in which neither team could extend the lead to more than five, the lead changed hands ten times, and the game was knotted up four times. Make no mistake, this was a very physical game, one in which Haarms was called for a foul while being dragged to the ground in an attempt to get offensive position; one in which Carsen Edwards was writhing in pain at midcourt after getting popped in the face by Scottie Lindsey as the pair fought for a loose ball. Lindsey recovered that ball and Vincent Edwards maturely fouled to stop the action to allow his teammate to seek medical help. Once he stood up, C. Edwards immediately went to the locker room with 8:26 left on the game clock. He later returned to the bench, but did not reenter the game (after the game, Painter said that he could have played if needed).

With C. Edwards checking out (six points, four assists, one block), a scoring void was left and Ryan Cline stepped up. In the Big Ten opener at Maryland, Purdue’s bench scored not one point, but Cline sank a couple of threes and scored eight points in the final eight minutes of action. In the final eight minutes, Cline and Haas were the only Boilers to score from the field with better ball movement and a preference toward an inside-out game. Dakota Mathias and V. Edwards did provide some support from the charity stripe down the stretch.

“Anytime you come off the bench and you don’t play consistent minutes, it’s hard to get into a rhythm,” Painter spoke in reference to Cline, before adding, “He was able knock some shots down today and get into a little bit of a rhythm and play more.”

The back and forth tilt continued with neither team seemingly able to make a defensive stop until the game was tied at 69 following a pair of Haas free throws. Haarms subbed in on defense for Haas and Northwestern inbounded the ball. The Wildcats placed the ball in the hands of trusted guard Bryant McIntosh who probed the defense by dribbling down the right wing and along the baseline where he tiptoed to stay in and jump-passed in the middle of the lane to avoid going out of bounds. V. Edwards intercepted the pass and Purdue called a timeout to get Haas back in the game. Eight seconds later Mathias found Haas for a short jumper to give Purdue a two point lead. Head Coach Chris Collins called a timeout for Northwestern to regroup which allowed Haarms to reenter the game for a potential defensive stand. Gavin Skelly attempted a three which bounced off the rim and into Lindsey’s arms. With 13 seconds left, Lindsey leapt for a short jumper, but Haarms was there to recycle the shot and V. Edwards snared the rebound. Dererk Pardon promptly fouled and Edwards marched to the other end of the court in hopes to ice the game. Edwards made the front end, giving Purdue a three point lead, but missed the second; Vic Law rebounded and a timeout was called with eight seconds remaining. The ball was again placed in McIntosh’s hands and he lifted for an open three, but it missed and Edwards again grabbed the rebound and was fouled. With one second left, Edwards sank the final two points from the line to seal the victory.

For better or worse, the officials allowed the game to get and remain physical. In the first half only ten total fouls were called (two against Purdue), although there was a fair amount of contact. In the second half, matters escalated with both sides battling for position, fighting through screens, and diving for loose balls. Although the whistle blew more in the second half, more was left uncalled than called. On the play which saw C. Edwards’ exit, the referees reviewed the play, but did not call a foul which put the hometown fans into an uproar over what they felt should have been a flagrant.

Purdue came into the contest with intent to prevent the shooters from getting into rhythm, but that allowed some other Wildcats to step up, most notably Pardon. Time after time, Pardon would set a screen forcing Haarms or Haas to help which allowed him to pop open for a midrange jumper facing the basket. This appeared to be employed primarily against Haarms who already has a penchant for over-helping his teammates with his eyes set on blocking shots. Purdue, partly by design, had no answer for this until Painter switched Haarms and V. Edwards in the closing minutes to cut that bread and butter out of the playbook for Northwestern.

When asked if he expected Pardon to be such an effective jump shooter, Haas quipped, “Absolutely not,” before adding “we were told to maybe be a rover (off him)” before V. Edwards interrupted, “(we were told to) Give him that shot.” Haas went on, “If he’s going to beat us on that, (so be it) and as Coach Painter said in the locker room, ‘he almost did.’” Haas finished by giving Pardon some praise, “Much respect to his game though, he’s a good player and he plays hard, and he took what we gave him; he completed the shots that were given to him, so much credit to him.”

Dec03_NW_billyKeller

Billy Keller, of the 1969 Boilermaker squad, spoke at halftime as part of the 50th anniversary celebration. -photo by Keith Carrell

Purdue used this matchup to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Mackey Arena. In an age where arenas seem to last fewer and fewer years, Mackey which was dedicated in a game against John Wooden’s UCLA Bruins on December 2nd, 1967 has stood the test of time. Although renovations, additions, and rebranding have been done to modernize the facility, Mackey Arena has seen a lot of blood, sweat, and tears through the years. One such team was introduced at halftime, the 1969 basketball team, which lost to UCLA in the National Championship game, was honored. Prior to the game, fans were given Guy “Red” Mackey bobbleheads as they entered the arena and passed through black curtains covering the tunnels to block out the exterior light for a special introduction. After the Northwestern team was introduced, the lights in Mackey went out and Keady Court became a projector screen for animation and video alike. Some of Purdue’s greatest moments over the past five decades were shown and then the Purdue team was announced (with players donning 1969 retro shooting shirts) with player graphics projected onto the court.

 

If you’ll excuse me for taking a step aside from my attempts at being as unbiased as I can in my earnest observations and coverage of Purdue for Indy Sports Legends. The speech from Keller at halftime, as a fan, was truly beautiful as he spoke of who and what Purdue is and the bond that Purdue fans share. And although I wasn’t alive or even really a thought at the time when that team was fighting in the National Championship game, Keller’s recalling of the past and declaration that “(Mackey) is the absolute best place to play in the country” brought me back to my childhood when my father would bring me to Purdue to watch Gene Keady coach the likes of Brian Cardinal, Chad Austin, Brad Miller, and many others. To me this was the heyday of Purdue basketball, when little train logos wrapped the collar of the jersey; this was Mackey before the renovations. Before the stat board and the light shows, before I knew what “LED” meant… it was just about basketball, pure and simple, and as an Indiana kid, it was magical. The center scoreboard showed basic stats and the score without the added imagery, similar to many high schools throughout the state today. We’d show up early to the game where the ticket taker in the lobby would ask me who my favorite player was, I’d respond “Brian Cardinal because I love his defensive effort” and she’d respond that she liked him too and “hopes he plays well since he has a hurt thumb.” Once the gates opened, my dad would buy me a program as a memento and we’d find our seats, undoubtedly not the best (though as I’ve learned over the years there is legitimately not a bad seat in Mackey). Then my dad would walk me down the stairs to the tunnel and talk an usher into letting me go down to the edge of the court during shoot around to watch the players up close in hopes of getting a coveted autograph (the best I got in my youth was a Carsen Cunningham signed program) before the “expensive seats” (as my dad called them) began to fill and we’d trek back to our seats midway up the upper bowl in the corner to watch the game unfold. We didn’t have season tickets, but my father took me to enough games each year to truly understand what it meant to be loyal, that it’s not always about the result, but about how you get there, that it’s about the Purdue way – ever grateful, ever true.

My father and I in the players tunnel before the exhibition game on November 4th, 2013. -photo by unknown, but friendly usher

My father and I in the players tunnel before the exhibition game on November 4th, 2013. -photo by unknown, but friendly usher

A few years ago, I was ecstatic when I was able to return the favor for my father and take him down the stairs to be next to the court, but this time it was before and during a game. The John Purdue Club made a few courtside seats available for the preseason game against Wayne State on November 4th, 2013 (Purdue won 91-58) and I was fortunate enough to get two. I took my dad to that game and we were able to sit in the cushiony seats opposite the scorer’s table, go down the player tunnel and check out the courtside club (where we partook in complimentary popcorn). We enjoyed each other’s company while we watched Matt Painter coach the Purdue way. Never forget that Purdue is special, Mackey Arena is special, and the bonds it ties are never ending. Thank you dad for making me who I am today and for continuing to be there for me and my family and thank you readers for obliging my personal ramblings as I reminisce on years gone by.

Next up:
Purdue hosts Valparaiso Thursday (6:30, FS1)

Quick Hits:
Prior to the National Anthem, Purdue held a moment of silence for longtime journalist Jeff Washburn who passed away Wednesday after his battle with Cancer (if you didn’t read Gregg Doyel’s article on Wash in the IndyStar, do yourself a favor and check it out, it’s a beautiful piece)… Purdue open the Big Ten season 2-0 and will host Rutgers January 3rd in the next conference game… Against Maryland in the Big Ten opener, Purdue’s bench went scoreless; the first time that’s happened since 1997 against North Carolina (Purdue lost 73-69)… Against Northwestern, Purdue’s bench scored 18 points (Cline 13, Haarms 4, Nojel Eastern 1)… Haas contributed 26 points and nine rebounds in 28 minutes… Haarms continues to rack up the blocks with four more against Northwestern (his fifth game with at least four this season)… The Wildcats’ Law had a double-double with 12 points and 10 rebounds… Each of the Purdue starters entered the game shooting at least 81% from the charity stripe, but struggled in this one (V. Edwards 4-6, Mathias 1-2, Haas 10-14) and midway through the game Haas missed three in a row… During the contest it was announced the Purdue football team would be facing Arizona in the Foster Farms Bowl in Santa Clara on December 27th.

Speak Your Mind

*