BY IAN HULETTE
Defense was the name of the game and Purdue has come well prepared this season. Though the Boilers started slow, Central Michigan tied the game at 9 with approximately 13:09 left in the first half. That was as close as the game would ever be, as the Chippewa’s of Central Michigan scored only 5 more points the rest of the first half. Purdue would score 29, thanks to Keaton Grant, Robbie Hummel, and E’Twaun Moore, who led the way with 10, 11, and 15 points, respectively. Nevertheless, the Purdue Defense was the real star of the game, holding every Central Michigan player to single digits, with seven of those players logging 24 minutes or more. This was an aggressive Central Michigan team as well.
However, Coach Painter doesn’t think his team has developed a swagger. He thinks they are just coming out ready to play, even when their routine was altered by an 11:30 am start. The team did not shoot around before the game and ate their team meal three and a half hours prior to tip off, while they normally ate four hours prior to the game. Mark Wolhford said, “It was more like breakfast, than pasta,” with a smile. The Purdue players were all smiles as they rolled in the second half to a 64-38 win. It must have been a breakfast of champions because the 6th ranked Boilermakers played with intensity, strength, and conviction. They lack that weakness of former teams that seemed to play well one game and blow it the next time out. They have been very consistent in their first five games, including a one-point win over 9th ranked Tennessee to win the Paradise Jam championship.
The game, save for the first six minutes, was never easy for Central Michigan. Purdue pressured with man-to-man full court, half court traps, and purely out hustling, and out working the Central Michigan Chippewas. The scary part was that the Boilers best defensive player, and arguably the Big Ten’s best defensive player, Chris Kramer, only played 18 minutes. When asked why, Coach Painter gave a simple answer: “He got into foul trouble early.” Coach Painter went on to explain that he placed Kramer back in and out throughout to keep him fresh rather than bench-ridden. Coach Painter also commented on giving some second team players some quality time on the court, adding depth to an already deep Purdue team. With Wake Forest coming up on December 1st, Purdue will need the depth and the defensive play of Chris Kramer for longer than 18 minute.
Central Michigan came into the game 2-4. Jordan Blitzer and Jalin Thomas, pre-game threats to score points, had little effect on the game. They both played 30 minutes, but were held to 3 points each. No one had much effect on the Boilers, as no one scored more than 8 points. If Wake Forest and the ACC had not yet noticed the Boilermakers of West Lafayette, Indiana (now 5-0), they definitely will be watching film for the next couple of days. Every Boilermaker but one, John Hart, played at least 14 minutes in this game. That is impressive. This quick start to the season and perfect example of team defense will not only open the eyes of the ACC and Big Ten, but every team in Division I Basketball. In addition, if the defense isn’t enough, Purdue also went 19-20 (95%) from the Free Throw line. JaJuan Johnson missed the only Free Throw of the game. As Purdue readies for Wake Forest, this writer thinks they have gained a little swagger. Defense of Purdue’s caliber will do that for a team. Oh, and Purdue can score. Give Robbie Hummel some room and the shots will fall. This is a special team, with a lot of opportunities and potential. If they keep their concentration (and a little bit of that swagger), we could be talking about them well into the season of Madness.