Tate: Purdue loss tough to stomach

Tate: Purdue loss tough to stomach

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. — The John Purdue Club was miserable Tuesday afternoon.

A headless Boilermaker football team had just been embarrassed, giving up 58 points to Oklahoma State in Dallas.

The folks around Lafayette needed a pick-me-up.

So make way for their favorite patsy: Illinois, the nearby rival they expect to defeat and usually do. And the Black and Gold was smiling again Wednesday.

In a doubleheader separated by less than two hours, the Purdue women prevailed 67-66 in an Assembly Hall overtime thriller, and the Purdue men muffled the once high-scoring, once Top 10 Illini 68-61 in Mackey Arena.

That’s eight straight for the men, who have three winning streaks in the series of that length or longer since the late 1960s. And that makes it an 8-for-9 run for the Purdue women, who have taken 43 of 48 from Illinois since 1987.

Somehow, Illinois brings out the best in Purdue, or the worst in itself, as we’ve seen in recent football seasons.

No joy across the border
The Mackey scrum lasted the full 40 minutes with a young Boilermaker club falling back on opportunistic junior Terone Johnson (25 points, nine rebounds) and the lone senior, D.J. Byrd (15 points).

“We never got Johnson under control,” UI coach John Groce said, “and Byrd made the tough plays at the end. They were the best two players on the floor. We rebounded with them for a half, but in the second half they shot 50 percent on threes and annihilated us on the boards.

“We have another tough one Saturday (Ohio State), and nobody cares that we only have two days to prepare. Nobody cares. I’m going to go with the guys that can get back up off the mat.”

Wednesday’s Big Ten opener looked promising as Illinois led 45-39 with 12 minutes left on two Tracy Abrams goals and a Tyler Griffey trey. But Byrd caught fire with three long treys for a 52-48 Purdue lead, and the Johnson brothers, Terone and freshman Ron, built it to 59-49 ahead of the three-minute mark.

Much of Purdue’s success stemmed from a tight defense that closed down Illini Brandon Paul for 37 minutes. He erupted belatedly with a lay-in and two treys, and D.J. Richardson hit another to bring it within 63-61 before Byrd closed it out with two special plays ... calling time as he fell out of bounds on a deflected rebound and then converting a three-point play to ice it.

Terone Johnson was sharp from the outset, garnering 13 points as the team’s three Johnsons combined for 20 points in those 20 minutes.

Purdue’s 7-foot, 280-pound freshman, A.J. Hammons, was essentially nullified at the outset and never perked up. But if Illinois stopped Hammons, the Boilermakers’ tenacious defense also limited UI drives. Purdue doubled the paint points, 36-18, and led 15-4 on second-chance points.

There was a stunning turnaround early that changed the direction of the game. Illinois should have doubled the score when, ahead 16-9, Abrams broke free for a clean layup but rolled it off the rim, and Terone Johnson immediately notched a four-point play when he scored inside, missed a free throw and scored off a rebound deflection. It was a dogfight from that point.

Tate’s tidbits
— Rob Hummel, whose dad starred in tennis for the Illini, is going strong in Spain and hoping to hook on with the Minnesota Timberwolves next season. Former Boilermaker teammate E’Twaun Moore is averaging 8.9 points as a backup guard for Orlando in the NBA, and the other member of that starring trio, JaJuan Johnson, was just traded from Fort Wayne to Canton (Ohio) in the Developmental League.

— With Purdue students on break, about 50 members of the Orange Krush nabbed tickets in a section next to the Boilermaker band. There were several thousand empty seats.

— Seven members of the Purdue men’s squad, including Champaign freshman Jay Simpson, spent time at institutes, military academies or prep schools, just one more indication of how the game is changing.

Loren Tate writes for The News-Gazette. He can be reached at ltate@news-gazette.com.

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patrick wrote on January 03, 2013 at 6:01 am

I hate to say "here we go again", but, here we go again. The same old problems appear once again:

-poor shot selection

-sloppy defense

-no rebounding effort

These are some of the problems that plagued Weber's last teams. I'm no great fan of Bob Knight , but he said something last year during the Illini swoon that's stuck with me. In effect, he said, "all teams can have an off night shooting, but there's never an excuse for poor defensive or rebounding effort".


FloridaIllini wrote on January 03, 2013 at 6:01 am

If you saw the Gopher/Spartan game you would be very worried about the Gophers.  That is a hard playing rebounding team that I think have a very good chance of winning the Big Ten.  They will annihilate us.  Williams and Mbakwe are unstoppable.  Hollins on the outside.  We will be 0-4 for sure.  Now that we are in the Big Ten schedule we are seeing some real defense and hard inside play that you don't see in the schedule padding games.  Look out for the Gophers!!!

afan wrote on January 03, 2013 at 7:01 am

If only Purdue had played with the same tenacity and determination in their non conference games this wouldn't be the bad loss that it definitely is.  

Moonpie wrote on January 03, 2013 at 8:01 am

Been saying for weeks this team is overrated and overhyped by Oracle Tate and the Sleepy Gazoo. Another loss looms against the Buckeyes. The Illini live by three-pointers or die by them and a lack of an inside game.But of course, we must stay blindly obedient to the Oracle cheerleading.

Piemoon wrote on January 08, 2013 at 10:01 am

Been saying for weeks that your existence is overrated and overhyped.

cretis16 wrote on January 03, 2013 at 8:01 am

Get used to this....it's the bane of Illini sports....always to lose the games you are supposed to win. Drop by Beckman's office and pickup another doormat.

floridaturbo wrote on January 03, 2013 at 9:01 am

Yesterday MJ reminded us that Illinois was picked to finish 9th in the B1G.  Could be about right.

HoosierIllinois wrote on January 03, 2013 at 9:01 am

It is easy to cure.  I replayed most of Purdue's offensive rebounds and saw that there was no attempt to block out.  Block out and we win.

houstonillini84 wrote on January 03, 2013 at 9:01 am

The weaknesses we saw last night have been there all season, but they will get exploited a lot more in the B10 season.

1. Poor offensive scheme resulting in bad shot selection. Purdue got far better shots than we did. Too often our offense was taking forced shots or shots several feet behind the 3 point line. Our offensive scheme creates little. Everything seems to be generated by one on one play, either beating your man to the hoop or creating perimeter shots. Very low assist to points ratio. Its hard to win that way in the B10. Maybe you could win that way in the NBA 20 years ago when you played inferior teams, but that wont cut it against decent talent and coaching. We look one step up from a playground offense. Sad.

2. Terrible defensive rebounding. The lack of block-outs was astounding. I know we play a smaller lineup and that we might get outrebounded, but come on, even a guard can put a body on someone and keep them from charging to the hoop for rebounds and second chance points. When players fail to block out on D they need to ride the pine.

IMO we will be lucky to go .500 in the B10, and we may very well not make the tourney.


SEMOIllini wrote on January 03, 2013 at 9:01 am

You sir, are correct.

beekay wrote on January 03, 2013 at 5:01 pm

Part of the problem on the defensive rebounding is that we don't seem to have defenders that can prevent dribble penetration.  When the guard busts by our defender, our help defense is so aggressive that it tenaciously pursues the dribbler to challenge the shot.  This leaves the rebounder wide open for an uncontested put back on the missed shot.  Maybe we have to do what Purdue did to us and extend the defenders way out on the perimeter to harass them further away from the basket rather than giving them room to survey the court, get a head of steam, and drive past us down the lane.  When that dribbler drives deep into the lane the help defenders are just vacating their men and making it too easy for the offensive rebounds on the miss.  We've got to do something because Mizzou exposed that weakness and now everybody knows that dribble penetration kills us.

DaisyJ wrote on January 03, 2013 at 9:01 am

We all could see this coming except the team. This is why you sit Griffey, put in a rebounder Shaw, and you sit Richardson, put in Henry. Bertrand should also start. Time to coach a little instead of going with last years non tough guys. Hey, glad we all shoot that loveable three, I am on record to tell you it is NOT necessary to win with the 3 ball.

PortlandIllini wrote on January 03, 2013 at 10:01 am

I can't help but notice that after our first loss in the Big Ten,  the negativity hounds are barking again.   The team has lost 2 of the last 3 on the road:  get used to it Illini fans. But they are also likely to win some games you don't expect.   That is the nature of this year's team.

Your post game "coaching"  ain't going to help.   But it sure gives a negative impression to potential recruits who read these sites.

DaisyJ wrote on January 03, 2013 at 11:01 am

Those recruits are going to have to get over any negative comments. If they cannot, then who wants them. Actually, Groce has guys coming that WANT to be here vs they are a top kid and ended up here as Weber succumb to. Henry, Langford, and Bertrand all need more time. We need to score from other than the 3 and they can do it. Shaw can rebound. Paul and Richardson are just not that smart to adjust to the game at hand.

Illini1973 wrote on January 03, 2013 at 11:01 am
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I feel far better about this loss than the way we folded like a deck of cards last year.  And I feel far better about this coach on the sideline than the 'it's not my fault, just ask Izzy' one we had last year.

OKOMIS wrote on January 03, 2013 at 1:01 pm

Isn’t that the truth… and don't be surprised if Purdue beats ur boy Izzo this saturday....


Bear8287 wrote on January 03, 2013 at 11:01 am

The rebounding stats really stand out to me:

Abrams had as many rebounds as Egwu and Griffey combined (4).

Bertrand had as many rebounds as Egwu, Griffey and McLaurin combined (7).

The leading rebounder for the Illini against Purdue? Richardson (9).


pitch9 wrote on January 03, 2013 at 12:01 pm

I have to agree with the sentiments expressed here.  I have had cautious enthusiasm about this team for some time.  The weaknesses we saw against some mediocre opponents was, and will continue to be exposed.  The Big Ten will not be kind to the style of play the Illini employ.  The lack of toughness in the middle, the inconsistency of the offense, and the questionable mental toughness required to play in hostile environments all lead me to believe that our days in the Top 25 are numbered.  (quite possibly to the end of the week).  The jury is still out and it's way to early to make long-term assumptions, but we all know this is not a Top 15 team.  Those in the media and the fan base who think we have arrived may want to stay tuned.  It will be interesting to watch.  I sincerely hope my concerns prove to be baseless.

DaisyJ wrote on January 03, 2013 at 1:01 pm

I am tired of the 3, 4, category, what ever happened to a forward, guard, point or center.

We all have hybrids which are average players at everything but not great at anything. The three point shot screwed up guys like Tisdale, Griffey. They should have been good post players that can rebound. Take Richardson, he is ok but has really never learned a skill that is unstoppable.

Henry and Langford are forwards, play them ahead of Griffey please. Tired of this kid that has no savy too him, no game, just wanders around taking a shot here and there. Geeze.

1 illinifan wrote on January 03, 2013 at 3:01 pm

Daisy is right. It is apparent that Groce is to sentimental to coach leaving some of the seniors in, that is not what is best for the team. Like I said in another post we will only get 2 more games with the present setup, unfortunate but true. Paul should be benched for 2 games just to get his head right, he is just going to get worse anyway. We are going to lose those games anyway so it really does not matter. But like I said Groce is too sentimental and does not have the guts to do it.

Bwp 5P wrote on January 03, 2013 at 3:01 pm

Or.....could it be possible that the coach is around the players more than we are (practice, etc.) and actually knows more than any of us coaching experts????

Right now that's what I am going to believe.......even as disappointed as I was in last night's performance!!

1 illinifan wrote on January 03, 2013 at 3:01 pm

Good point! Which proves my point even more, being around them that long and not being able to do the right thing = too sentimental. It is not just last night's performance, it is the last few games and the consistent trends. Not being sarcastic, but it is a good point, so I change that to one more game with the present setup.

aaeismacgychel wrote on January 04, 2013 at 12:01 pm

I think you're out of your mind. Brandon Paul should be benched for 2 games because he had a single bad game? And in this bad game he still put up 15pts on 5-10 shooting, 4-7 3pt shooting with 3 rebounds and 3 assists. With numbers like those, maybe he should have gotten the ball more. But all some people see is the the two off-balance threes he took when trying to draw a foul, which he was 1 for 2 on by the way (JJ Reddick used to do that as well, and you didn't see Duke fans clamoring to bench him), and the 4 turnovers. Fine, no player should have 4 turnovers. But if you're going to basically suspend your #1 scorer, your #1 rebounder, your #1 assister, your #2 blocker, your #3 stealer, your #1 foul drawer, your #1 or #2 dribbler, your #1 driver, your senior leader, and somebody who has played like an All-American this year for 2 games just because he had 4 turnovers and leads your team in turnovers, then you deserve to have the team you cheer for lose every single game they play, because if that's not good enough for your support, nothing ever will be. I mean, I don't know what some of you expect out of a college kid, but if you expect Brandon Paul or any other athlete to score 30 points with 10 rebounds, 10 assists, 5 steals, 5 blocks, and 0-1 turnovers a night, it's not going to happen. Sorry. Just watch the NBA then, because at least you have a chance to see something like that. How many players in the country lead their team in points, rebounds, and assists? I mean my gosh, the overreaction of some Illini fans is absolutely ridiculous.

The Illini lost because they were the worse team. They were outcoached, outschemed, had less energy, and were outreffed as well(though that's besides the point). It's really that simple. And you want to suspend the kid who put the entire team on his back in the final 4 minutes to fight his team back from a double digit deficit to a one possession game and his teammates still couldn't get even one lousy rebound? And that's still his fault? Brandon Paul is not Michael Jordan, folks. He's not Wilt Chamberlain. He's not Magic Johnson. He's not John Stockton. He's Brandon Paul. He will never play mistake free basketball. But without him on the court, Illinois is a much much much worse team.

Gosh, maybe next time he misses a shot or turns the ball over, all of Assembly Hall should start booing him. That'll make him better *rolls eyes*

beekay wrote on January 03, 2013 at 5:01 pm

Here is what I'm looking forward to.  I'm looking forward to seeing if Groce can coach us out of some of these negative tendencies.  He coached us to a victory at Gonzaga when he went to the zone defense.  He posted a very good win against Butler.  His task is difficult because he has seniors that have a history of being mentally and physically soft.  That is a challenge that can't usually be taught.  But he has the opportunity to figure out a way to change up the defensive scheme to extend the pressure and prevent these opposing guards from lowering their shoulder and busting by us into the lane to create easy putbacks by the opposition.  We're going to see if this guy can adjust to change the things that our exploiting our weaknesses.  We're still at a point right now that is better than where we expected to be this year, and now we have some games ahead of us that provide opportunities to see what this guy is made of.  Before I complain too much about coaching, I want to see how he responds to this.

crackerman wrote on January 03, 2013 at 5:01 pm

Groce is making the best of a team that he inherited. Abrams probably is'nt a player he would have recruited. So as far as ball handlers go, this is what he has to work with. Paul is careless with the ball, in four years of baketball, DJ has never been a driver, and quite frankly, Egwu is very weak inside player. The loss last nite stings, but i'm quite pleased with the way things are looking in terms of the future of hoops. Remember, Groce said they recruit to their playing style. Last time I checked, he did'nt recruit any of the players on the current roster except Mc Claurin. McClaurin was brought in because Groce apparently saw the lack of interior toughness from our bigs. It's probably gonna be another rollercoaster ride in the Big Ten, So buckle up and support your Team!    Go Illini!

SwifferFan wrote on January 04, 2013 at 6:01 am

Crackerman...good, objective assessment.  I would add that Griffey has a tendency to stand still, unless shooting a three.  The Illini need more muscle under/around the basket and movement by those who don't have the ball.  I'm impressed with Groce both as a coach and as a person.  I think he knows his team, will recruit players to fill the gaps, and will be successful (i.e., make the NCCA tourney consistently, not win every game).  This team will play only as well as their mental toughness will take them.  Groce can influence that, but he can't force players to do what they're not committed personally to doing (i.e., lead a horse to water).  These players need to decide how tough they'll play with their abilities.  Hustle and rebounding can be accomplished by each, if they set their mind to it. 

houstonillini84 wrote on January 04, 2013 at 11:01 am

I am not sure how you can watch a team not box out on defensive rebounds, and say he 'is making the best of a team he inherited'. Come on. Also, our scheme on offense looks like playground basketball - go one-on-one and create a shot, or else chuck up a long three. People complained when Weber's teams took bad shots and blamed it on his system, now when Groce's team does it, its because of the players??!!

I am not going to make a Groce versus Weber comparison because its way too early to do that. But dont tell me that boxing out on D is something we are inherently unable to do because of players. And also dont tell me that our scheme on offense worked, because it didnt. People said Weber was stubborn and wouldnt play a scheme that fit his players. Fair enough. But then at least hold Groce to the same standard. Purdue's defense took Paul out of the game, and we had no response. Bobby Knight's teams would have run Alford through a dozen screens until he had an open shot, but our scheme had Paul dribbling 30 feet from the basket and then giving up the ball because he couldnt beat his man. Dont tell me there was absolutely no response to that Purdue defense with the players we have. Purdue is was 6-6... somebody must have figured something out.

JamesB wrote on January 03, 2013 at 9:01 pm

Crackerman is right on.  We don't have the horses, plain and simple.  Give it a couple years before you judge Groce.  I remain optimistic in the future of this program.  The best we can do now is to stay as positive as possible.

Amen wrote on January 03, 2013 at 10:01 pm

Shoot 43-48% for most games and the UI wins.  Everything else becomes irrelevant.  

houstonillini84 wrote on January 04, 2013 at 11:01 am

the problem is that when your shot selection is as bad as ours was, and if you are unable to create decent shots from your offense, then you arent likely to shoot 48%. Purdue got much better shots, not surprising they made more. You arent going to be able to count on the other team turning the ball over 20 times in the B10 season and getting a bunch of points out of transition. You have to be able to execute something in the half court offense, and we didnt.