WEST LAFAYETTE – During Saturday night’s basketball game, the Purdue student section wasn’t the only group worthy of the moniker “The Paint Crew.”
The Boilermakers out-hustled, out-manned and out-played the Michigan men’s basketball team.
Led by senior Carl Landry, Purdue outscored the Wolverines 32-18 in the key, thoroughly controlling the ball beneath the basket.
“They just caught us off guard and caught us on our toes,” junior Ron Coleman said.
The Boilermakers used their aggressive strategy early and often to go on a 20-5 run, which helped erase an early six-point deficit.
They capped the run with a perfectly executed cut to the basket by forward Dan Vandervieren. His teammate, guard Gordon Watt, lobbed a precise pass into the paint and Vandervieren had an easy lay-up.
But Purdue used more than just finesse to dominate the key. The Boilermakers also used brut strength.
Midway through the second half, Landry drove to the basket and clanked a shot off the back rim. Despite being behind both freshmen Ekpe Udoh and DeShawn Sims, the 6-foot-7 senior pushed both players aside to reach the ball and keep his team’s possession alive. Moments later Purdue capitalized on Landry’s hustle play with a Chris Lutz jumper.
Michigan’s troubles in the paint could’ve been attributed to the lack of a big man in the middle.
The Wolverines were without 6-foot-11 senior center Courtney Sims for much of the first half due to foul trouble. But according to Michigan coach Tommy Amaker, the lack of Sims’ presence didn’t matter.
“I think they dominated us in the paint, with or without any of the players that were in or out of the game due to foul trouble,” Michigan coach Tommy Amaker said.
No, you take it: The holiday season may be long gone, but the Wolverines were still in the spirit of giving.
Michigan coughed up the ball a total of 17 times against the Boilermakers while notching seven just assists. Despite Amaker’s insistence on better ball control leading up to Saturday’s game, the Wolverines continued to be careless and give their opponents extra possessions. Purdue finished the game with 14 points off of turnovers.
“People weren’t being tight with the ball,” Coleman said. “We had that as the No. 1 goal before the game – to value the ball and that’s a key thing you have to do on the road. We had guys that weren’t really tight with the ball on the wings and (Purdue) had guys that were tying to (take it to us). They did and we came up with a lot of turnovers.”
Saturday’s game is just a microcosm of a disturbing trend for Michigan. Heading into the contest, the team ranked was 10th in the conference in average assist to turnover ratio (0.98).
Rebounding woes: While turnovers were high on Amaker’s “to fix” list, rebounding wasn’t.
Before Saturday, the Wolverines averaged 36.9 rebounds per game and their plus-8.4 average rebounding margin was tied for third-best in the conference. But against the Boilermakers, Michigan managed just 23 rebounds, three fewer than their opponent.
“We really weren’t crashing the glass like we usually do,” Coleman said at yesterday’s practice. “Usually we get on the glass hard, and I don’t think we did a good job with offensive rebounding and (also) on the defensive side.”
Courtney Sims struggled the most. Needing 10 rebounds to crack the all-time top 20 rebounders at Michigan, the senior grabbed just one board in 22 minutes of play. Sims has grabbed at least 10 rebounds in a game four times this season.