What is Dispatches from Blogfrica? Pretty simple: I ask questions of an blogger for an opposing team; he (or she) answers. A truly revolutionary idea, no? Today: Travis from Hammer and Rails, SB Nation's fine blog for all things Purdue.
1) Since last our teams tangled three weeks ago, Purdue has looked pretty good (with one exception that we'll get to in a moment). They thrashed Michigan and Penn State, laid a stunning beatdown on Rutgers, and pulled away from Ohio State. No wins over A+ teams there, but some solid ones. What's been working so well for Purdue in those wins?
Many of Purdue's wins this year have followed a similar pattern. They pound inside with the bigs, wear a team down, and just dominate the last 10 minutes. It hasn't been pretty at times, but it is mostly effective.
What is troubling is that Purdue has not shot well from outside. It has some shooters, but no one is hitting. We can beat up a lot of teams with size, but eventually we will have to hit shots and Iowa is a team that can neutralize our size.
2) The one exception to that good run, of course, was the road loss at Illinois. What the hell happened there? How did things go so pear-shaped for Purdue in the second half of that game? What weaknesses did Illinois exploit so well in that game?
It was a weird game. Purdue's defense was pretty bad and both Hill and Nunn played out of their minds. Illinois played about as well as they could and Purdue just could not stop them.
3) Iowa's pressing defense completely bamboozled Purdue in the first meeting between these teams. Will Purdue be as confused and helpless against that defense if (when) Iowa busts it out in this game? Or have they switched things up to counter Iowa's press?
Purdue has definitely been better against the press of late. P.J. Thompson faced it a few times against Ohio State and did really well. It really bugs me that when we have a player get trapped the other four guys tend to do nothing to help him. We need improved movement without the basketball and more players going to the ball when it is stopped. It really isn't hard to break a press as long as the other four guys don't stand around with a "wow, that sucks for him" expression toward the guy trapped.
4) What will Purdue do on defense to slow down Jarrod Uthoff and Peter Jok? Will they run their usual defense (which is very good) and trust that it will slow down Iowa's offensive fulcrums or will they shake things up on that end?
It will be interesting to see. Uthoff and company were hitting even challenged looks the first time around. I am not sure what we can do different, and Rapheal Davis has not been the Ray D we know and love.
5) Who are 1-2 players on the Purdue roster who could swing this game for Purdue? Who do the Boilermakers need to have step up and play well to walk away from Iowa City with a win?
Purdue needs at least one of its shooters (Mathias, Cline, and Stephens) to start hitting from outside. Vince Edwards and Davis both need to attack the basket more too. When those two things happen it opens up the middle for Haas and Hammons, who then dominate.
6) OK, prediction time -- who ya got?
Iowa is playing extremely well but i think Purdue is pissed it let the game in West Lafayette get away. I expect a close game and give Iowa the edge at home.
Thanks for being a good sport, Travis, but I still hope your team gets mollywhopped tomorrow. You can check out the H&R crew at Hammer and Rails. You can also follow H&R on Twitter at @HammerAndRails and Travis on Twitter at @JustTMill. The Iowa-Purdue game is in Iowa City, IA on Sunday, January 24, and is scheduled to start at approximately 12:00 pm CT, with TV coverage from BTN.