WEST LAFAYETTE -- Let’s start with this. The new, stringent contact rules implemented this season are horrible. Quite frankly, they’re making many games a joke.
There’s a whistle seemingly each minute—followed by a chorus of boos or Bronx cheers. In Purdue’s 81-77 win over Rider on Sunday, there were 54 fouls called, evenly split between the two teams. A 40-minute contest dragged well over two hours. As a spectator, it was maddening to watch. The games are being ruined.
Coach Matt Painter doesn’t like the new rules, either. He has been very outspoken against them since their initiation to the game. On Sunday, it nearly cost his Boilermakers a win.
“I think it was a little excessive tonight,” Painter said. “[The officials] got to watch film and get a happy medium.”
Those fans who braved through Sunday’s dangerous storms to be at Mackey Arena were forced to sit through 62 free throws, 31 for each team. With each whistle, the crowd became collectively more incensed. Even the Broncos’ fouls were reason for fan frustration.
It was absolutely ridiculous, no matter which side you favor.
The worst of the whistles were those called on unintended contact. It’s entirely unnecessary.
“There is a such thing as incidental contact,” said Painter. “If you call every single solitary foul contact, you’re going to call a lot of fouls.”
And that’s exactly what happened in this game. Flip on any contest around the country and you’ll find the same thing. This is getting horrendous.
For years, dating back before Painter’s playing days, Purdue’s foundation has been built on aggressive defense—physical, tenacious defense. Under these new rules, the Boilermakers can’t play their game. That’s where Painter’s frustrations stem from.
Part of Rider’s game plan was to exploit Purdue’s physical play and turn it into fouls. It worked to near perfection. The Broncos hit on 24 of their 31 free throws, only in the end losing poise on a big stage. The fouls and frustration nearly were enough to pull off the upset.
“With the new rules, you’ve got to use that to your advantage,” Rider coach Kevin Baggett said.
In Purdue’s practices, there are no incidental contact calls. It’s the exact opposite.
The coaches encourage the physical, challenging defense. It builds toughness in the team, and it’s program trademark that won’t be leaving anytime soon. But the Boilermakers must adjust to these new rules or hope they go away soon.
“The coaches let us go at it [in practice],” said forward Jay Simpson, who filled in for A.J. Hammons when he got into early foul trouble. “We can’t play like that. we’ve got to keep our hands off and move our feet.”
Unless these rules are reduced —which very well could be possible before conference play tips off—Purdue (and so many others) must adjust its style of play. These are the cards that were dealt.
“We have to have better poise at those times, of just keeping the ball in front of us and not fouling,” Painter conceded.
Painter is a bright basketball mind who knows the game to its slightest details. He was all over this one from the start.
It’s just a bad idea.
There was even more evidence of this on Sunday evening. It was an extreme example, but this is becoming a commonplace around the game.
“We just can’t go over the top with it,” Painter added.
College basketball has gotten well past that point.
-- Purdue trailed by nine in the second half and was struggling to get its offense going, but the Johnson brothers took over. Terone and Ronnie combined for 30 points, including 21 in the second half.
-- Sterling Carter gave the Boilermakers a big boost off the bench, tallying 13 points and making some important hustle plays. Carter is admittedly still motivated by being let go from Seattle University, but is happy to be at Purdue. “I just felt thankful for the opportunity to become a Boilermaker and be given a great opportunity like this,” he said. “… I’m glad to be here and play hard for this team.”
-- The Boilermakers’ bench provided 45 of Purdue’s 81 points. When the starters struggled early on, the depth took over. “We just want to come in and bring energy,” said freshman point guard Bryson Scott, who posted 11 points. “We’ve got to take full advantage of the opportunities when they come.”
-- Freshman guard Basil Smotherman delivered the highlight of the game, throwing down a thunderous dunk over a poor Rider soul. Said Scott of the dunk: “That was crazy. But I’ve seen him do some crazy stuff in practice.”
-- Purdue returns to action on Wednesday night when it hosts Eastern Illinois at Mackey Arena. Tipoff is set for 7:00.