By Charles Paradis
Daily Sports Writer
To say that Purdue guard Willie Deane went off on the Michigan basketball team Saturday would be an understatement. Deane dropped a career-high 36 en route to a 69-61 win over the Wolverines. Deane was lethal both inside and out, and no one could contain No. 0.
“He was an outstanding basketball player this afternoon,” Michigan coach Tommy Amaker said. “We had no answers for him, and he was too explosive and too tough. He could do everything he wanted to on the floor.”
Deane had the hot hand from the opening tap. With Michigan’s best perimeter defender, Bernard Robinson, checking him, Deane drilled two 3-pointers in the first five minutes of the game.
Deane scored 15 of his team’s first 22 points of the game. He was so dominant, in fact, that with just six minutes left in the first half, Deane had outscored Michigan 17-13. Coming into the game against Michigan, Deane was averaging just slightly over 17 points a game – a total his 19 first-half points easily surpassed.
In the second half, Michigan did a better job of containing the versatile guard. Deane scored just five points from the field. But the Wolverines also sent him to the line 14 times in the half – most of these in the waning minutes of the game when Michigan wanted to stop the clock to try and mount a comeback.
Deane’s 36 points overshadowed the entire game, as no other Boilermaker scored in double digits in the win and Michigan’s highest scorers, freshmen Lester Abram and Daniel Horton each had 15. The next closest Boilermakers were David Teague, Chris Booker and Melvin Buckley with seven points each. Saturday, Deane accomplished what his coaches had been trying to preach to him since day one.
“All year we had really tried to help him just take balanced shots, play in the flow of our offense, (saying,)’Don’t force it. You’re a great player.’ But he just kept trying to win the game by himself,” Purdue coach Gene Keady said.
Instead of trying to take on the Wolverines as a one-man army, Deane acted as a part of the process, letting the offense run through him. With another one of Purdue’s stars, Kenneth Lowe, out due to an injury, Deane became the go-to man. The Boilermaker’s offense ran smoothly through him, as he touched the ball almost every time down the floor.
“We spent some time with our team today and last night talking about playing the game with the logic and reasoning side of the brain instead of the emotional side,” Keady said. “And I said, ‘Since Kenny’s not going to play this game, that guy over there (Deane) is our go-to guy. We’ve got to get him shots, and we’ve got to get him open and we’ve got to get him the ball.'”
Deane was a flurry of action all game long, stepping in the passing lanes, pulling down rebounds and driving to the basket were just a taste of what he displayed Saturday. Deane pulled down four boards and tied Michigan freshman Graham Brown for a game-high three steals. Deane scored six of his first-half points off turnovers he created by jumping in the passing lanes and reading the offense. Deane’s man-to-man defense was the only chink in his armor Saturday, but when the clock read triple zeros, even that was strong enough to fend of the Wolverines, as the few points he gave up on ‘D’ did not hold a candle to his 36.
“He needs to work on it some, and he knows it, but it was good enough to win,” Keady said.