Monday, November 11, 2013

Tales of the Tape: NKU at Purdue

Hey guys. To those of you who listen to The Train Stop podcast on we really appreciate the love. Steve and I enjoy recording them, love talking Purdue hoops, and love dissecting basketball. The constant action of the game drew me in as a kid, and I’ve been hooked ever since.

Head coach and badass extraordinaire Matt Painter’s 2013-2014 squad is lining up to be much more enjoyable than last year. After a lot of turnover it looks like we have a roster that (mostly) buys in to CMP’s system, as evidenced by his comments saying this summer has been “the best offseason we’ve had in years”.

So let’s try something different this year. I’ll be breaking down some plays from each game, doing some frame-by-frame stuff, and just trying to draw your eye to a few tendencies that I find interesting. Also, any funny reactions, faces, flops, or posterizations are guaranteed to make an appearance. Let me know what you think, or if you have any additions to the analysis feel free to make them in the comments below.

Let’s get to it. Blame the video quality on the awful viewing options.


That Northern Kentucky game might have been ugly, but it was a win we wouldn’t have secured last season. Michael Henry of Hoosier Sports Report has written a great breakdown of a few plays from Friday, so I’d like to focus on two specific topics:

1) Ronnie Johnson: the good, the bad, and the ugly.
The younger Johnson has been given the reigns to the offense ever since he stepped foot on campus, which is a first for Coach Painter. It was partly out of necessity, but also due to RJ’s ability to make a play (especially in fast break situations). This was definitely evident several times yesterday:

RJ dished out 5 assists, shot a great percentage yesterday (made 7 of 11), was a perfect 2-2 from behind the arc, and made the game’s two clinching offensive plays (kick to Peck for a corner 3, and drawing a foul for the go-ahead free throws).

Improving last year’s FG% of 38.5% is great, especially when the majority of them were jumpers/floaters in the lane, but I’d really like to see him commit to driving into the lane. His quick first step and drive-and-kick ability, combined with the perimeter threats of Kendall Stephens, Terone Johnson, and Sterling Carter, would add a great extra weapon to a sometimes-stagnant offense.

RJ also gets lazy in the half-court, producing bad unforced turnovers like this:

Spacing was often another issue. Too often, perimeter players would get caught ball-watching while the ball is in the post. Feeding the ball inside will happen a lot more with Hammons in the game, and we can’t allow the defense to double down on him with no consequence, like they did on Jay Simpson below:

Watch the three perimeter players at the top of the arc. RJ and Terone are hanging out in the same spot, allowing RJ’s man to crash down on Simpson. One of them needs to sprint to the weak side corner, giving the post man more room to work and a release valve if doubled.

2) Wanted: Purdue defense (aka A Glaring Lack of AJ Hammons)
Though I just presented a laundry list of offensive requests, they are mostly very fixable errors that happen early in the season. Our defense wasn’t as promising, evidenced by the lack of communication on the perimeter and of an AJ Hammons-sized monster to guard the paint.

Let’s look at one key breakdown late in the game:

NKU’s Jordan Jackson (#2 in the video) killed us last night. 24 points, 5 assists, 8 rebounds, and more plays made than anyone on the floor. On the above play, Jackson rejects a screen from Jack Flournoy (#1) and dribbles into the corner. It was late in the game, Jackson was killing us, and I assume CMP gave orders to trap him if given the shot. At least, that’s what I assume given the ferocity at which Ronnie Johnson left Flournoy to double Jackson. The problem: Stephens hesitates. It looks like he’s unsure of where to be, and his hesitation causes both Terone Johnson (top of the lane) and Jay Simpson (clogging the paint) to be out of position.
Jordan Jackson gets just enough room to throw a great pass to a wide-open Flournoy (pictured above right as he grabs the pass), who puts NKU up by three with two minutes to go. Communication, along with familiarity, will go a long way to solve this issue.

Our glaring lack of AJ Hammons was extremely evident on the last play of the game:

NKU brings all of their players outside, loading four up top (including ballhandler Tyler White, #10) and a shooter in the corner. Purdue is playing a switching man-to-man defense, and Ray Davis is so aggressive in following his man that he leaves the lane completely free for a drive. Terone Johnson is forced to help off of the corner, giving White an open shooter if he is denied a layup. To compound that positioning disadvantage, Jay Simpson is just relaxing on his man at the top of the arc (hint: not a three point threat). This leaves Ronnie Johnson to box out both Jordan Jackson and big man Jake Giesler, who misses a fairly-clean putback attempt (Jackson and Giesler actually did a better job defending each other than we did on them). I think this scheme is completely different with AJ Hammons on the floor, which makes this close-call a tiiiiiny bit easier to handle.

We’ll see how Purdue elects to defend with Hammons, and whether he can pair with our very good perimeter defenders to mimic the Dwight Howard Effect in the Big Ten.

Friday, November 8, 2013

The Train Stop, Episode 6.0

The Train Stop podcast's primer for the 2013-2014 Purdue Boilermakers basketball season, tipping off November 8, 2013 in Mackey Arena. We talk about late summer and preseason action vs the University of Indianapolis and Wayne State College, new additions to the team, and focus on Purdue's "big three" of AJ Hammons, Terone Johnson, and Ronnie Johnson. We also make our Big Ten team and individual award predictions, identify our non-Purdue man crushes, single out our favorite Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle, and make best case/worst case predictions for Purdue's season.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

The Train Stop, Episode 5.0

A summer edition of the Train Stop, a Purdue (and Big Ten) basketball podcast hosted by and SB Nation. We talk about the Boilermakers' incoming and outgoing transfers, look at the progress of the current roster, introduce the freshman Class of 2013, and highlight possible recruits for the Class of 2014. We also take a look at the professional careers of Boilermaker alumni, and talk about possible Big Ten players who could make a name for themselves during the upcoming NBA Draft.

The Train Stop, Episode 4.0

We recap the tail end of the Purdue Boilermakers' men's basketball regular season, and hand out traditional Big Ten awards (POY, 1st/2nd/3rd teams, 6th Man, DPOY, All-Freshman team), along with a few alternative awards (Doucher of the Year, Crankiest Coach, All-Fun team, All-Ugly Team, Goober of the Year). We also give our thoughts on both the NCAA Tournament and the CBI, previewing Purdue's matchup with Western Illinois.

Originally posted at on Mar 20, 2013

The Train Stop, Episode 3.0

Catching up on 2012-2013 Purdue Boilermakers men's basketball through the midpoint of Big Ten season. We include postseason predictions, likes and dislikes, possible early entry into the NBA draft, our trust in Coach Painter, and the B1G so far.

Originally posted at on Feb 13, 2013

The Train Stop, Episode 2.0

Reviewing Purdue's matchups with Villanova, Oregon State, UNC Wilmington, and Clemson. Also Quick Hits, featuring grades for Purdue's freshman and veteran players, new additions to the B1G, IU as the #1 team in the country, and Danny Hope's firing.

Originally posted at on Dec 7, 2012

The Train Stop, Episode 1.2

Review of the Purdue Boilermakers' opening two games: vs. Bucknell Bison & vs. Hofstra Pride.

Originally posted at on Nov 30, 2012