Dave’s Free Play, Wednesday 1/22/14
We all have our opinions as to the best coaches are as well as those who can’t get the job done. This is pure guesswork as without access to the locker rooms and practices, it’s really tough to gauge the overall job performance. But there are still some good decisions that can be arrived at simply by watching plenty of games. For me, a big key in rating coaches is their ability to game plan for specific opponents. When I see a team that runs the same stuff regardless of who they’re playing, that’s a red flag for me.
That brings me to Matt Painter and Purdue, a team I watched simply give away a game last night at Northwestern. The Wildcats are a seriously awful offensive team and with their starting point guard currently sidelined due to a concussion, they’re even worse than they might normally be. I basically spent the entire 40 minutes of regulation plus the ten additional minutes of overtime play wondering why in the world Painter didn’t have the Boilermakers pressing. Facing a shorthanded team that doesn’t have its floor general and not pressing on a regular basis is totally perplexing to me.
The fact that pressing is not something Purdue does very often, as as pointed out by the broadcasters last night, does not excuse them for not utilizing that defense in this game. There’s a good chance Northwestern would have had turnover issues, which they were able to avoid all night long. At the very least, it’s a great way to gas a team that’s operating with a very thin roster to begin with.
This falls under the heading of poor preparation, and that’s all on the coaching staff. Failing to take advantage of what looks like a legitimate vulnerability of an opponent is bad coaching. Painter also appeared to miss some offensive set opportunities during this game. Perhaps it’s just poor execution, but it looked to me like the Boilermakers were saddled with a weak game plan and ended up paying the price with a very ugly double overtime loss to Northwestern.
Obviously, the Purdue game was displeasing as far as my Tuesday was concerned. But it was still another winning night overall, thanks to a big dog on the ice connecting, and whenever the ink is black, I’m generally go to sleep reasonably content.
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Tonight’s free play is a rematch of an earlier game this season. We’re starting to see a few more revenge games now, and in fact there are five on tap tonight in the colleges. I’ll focus on the Big 12 battle between Texas Tech and West Virginia for the Wednesday comp.
01/22 05:00 PM CB (753) TEXAS TECH (754) WEST VIRGINIA
Take: (753) TEXAS TECH +6.5
It’s rematch time tonight in the Big 12 as Texas Tech travels to Morgantown for a battle with West Virginia. The first meeting between these two was a thriller, with the Mountaineers pulling out the 89-86 overtime victory in Lubbock.
That initial hookup was a tough loss for the Red Raiders. They fought back from a double digit second half deficit to eventually grab a late lead. But Terry Henderson drained a three with a handful of seconds left to get the game to OT and West Virginia eventually escaped with the win.
The fortunes of these two teams has flipped a bit since that first game. West Virginia has dropped three in a row, while the Red Raiders just missed against Texas before knocking off both Baylor and TCU.
The big issue recently for the Mountaineers has been a very shoddy defense. In their last two games, they’ve gotten torched for better than 50% shooting by the opposition. That could bode well for a Texas Tech squad that isn’t much from outside, but is actually one of the most accurate two-point field goal shooting teams in the country.
There’s a decent combo of elements in play here. Same season revenge for the road underdog, and they’re off back to back wins and covers. Add in the poor current form of the host team, and the ingredients seem to be in place for a run at the upset by the underdog. I like the idea of taking the points with Texas Tech in what has a good chance to be another close game.