After an entire regular season and one postseason game, it’s tough to say Purdue’s basketball team is still inexperienced. The Boilermakers are a young team, but even freshmen have been a part of 33 college games now.
Yet following Purdue’s first round College Basketball Insider 81-67 win against Western Illinois last Wednesday, Boilermaker coach Matt Painter pointed out areas his team still lacks maturity.
Tonight, Painter’s still growing squad is pitted against a Santa Clara team with three of its top four scorers being seniors. Purdue tips off the CBI quarterfinal against the Broncos at 7 p.m. (BTN.com and ESPN 1380-AM) in Mackey Arena.
“They obviously have an experienced team with four 1,000 point scorers and they’re in a very good league (West Coast Conference),” Painter said. “With us playing an experienced team like that, who’ve been through a lot together, it’s going to be very important for us to do our best to stick with them.”
Sticking with the Broncos starts on the perimeter. Just less than 40 percent of Santa Clara’s shot attempts have been from 3-point range this season, with an average of eight made per game.
This starts with senior guard Kevin Foster, who is one 3-pointer away from making 100 on the season and averages 18 points and 4.4 assists per game.
“They have guards who shoot a lot of threes, but they have different styles in terms of how they play,” Painter said. “They have great experienced, great balance and they stretch you out.”
This will force Purdue’s defense to stay disciplined on rotations. It also could help the Boilermakers to find some offense from their defense. Santa Clara averages 12 turnovers a game and if Purdue can force a few, they could stop Santa Clara’s defense from getting into position.
“Doing a better job on the defensive end helps you if you can get in transition or at least get them where you are attacking them in the defense end and they’re not quite set,” Painter said. “No surprise offenses and defenses connect … and when we play good defense it helps us on the other end.”
This could also help limit Santa Clara from using their experience to be in the right place in the half-court defensively. The Broncos average 7.9 steals a game and Painter directly attributes that to them having played so many games.
“These guys have played 100, 125 college games and any time you’ve been around college, whether you’re quick or you’re fast, you should be in the right place after you’ve played in that many games and you should be aware of what’s going on,” Painter said.
That same experience is something Purdue hopes to keep gaining in the CBI. It may not have players new to the college scene anymore, but the Boilermakers still have plenty of room to grow, and a few more rounds in the CBI would be exactly what Painter wants.
“You can’t get the experience if you don’t win,” Painter said. “You want to continue to win so you can continue to play. I think when you look at the tournament as a whole, when you say we have a chance to play five or six games, now you are excited about it.”