FORT WAYNE – Purdue’s frustrating basketball season boils down to decision-making for coach Matt Painter.
And the Boilermakers are not making good decisions.
If you make better decisions, you take better shots. It’s that simple, Painter said. A lot of people say the shots just weren’t falling. No, we’re taking a terrible shot or we’re taking a shot we don’t normally make.
We need a better decision-maker. That’s going to be really important for the future of our team, the decision-making. You can’t have a center averaging three turnovers a game. You got to have a point guard who communicates and talks and leads out there by example. We need that togetherness, the ability to make a better decision and take a better shot.
The Boilermakers (15-12, 5-9 Big Ten) will have a difficult time making the season’s frustrations go away tonight when they play host to No. 16 Michigan (19-7, 11-3), which comes into Mackey Arena in first place in the Big Ten.
Michigan, which leads the league in field-goal percentage, has three players averaging double figures in scoring: Nik Stauskas averages 17 points, and Caris LeVert and Glenn Robinson III average 13.3 and 12.9 points.
They have a good system. They all can hurt you, said Painter, whose team lost at Michigan 75-66 on Jan. 30. You look at LeVert and you look at Stauskas, their two best offensive guys, and then you throw in Glenn Robinson. And (Derrick Walton Jr.) has been steady. He’s been great for a true freshman.
(Jon) Horford and (Jordan) Morgan have played just a great grinding Big Ten role. That’s what you need from somebody in your lineup if you are going to win a championship. That’s why they are in that position, not just because of their horses. It’s because of guys like (Horford and Morgan) that are older that get it. That’s winning basketball. That’s what they have.
The Boilermakers will be missing one player tonight, possibly two.
Senior guard Sterling Carter, who was averaging 4.8 points, was lost for the season after tearing his anterior cruciate ligament and medial and lateral meniscus in his right knee in Sunday’s 76-57 loss to Nebraska.
Fort Wayne native Rapheal Davis, who averages 5.1 points, is expected to take Carter’s place in the starting lineup.
Purdue may also be without freshman Jay Simpson, who experienced lightheadedness and fell down against Nebraska. Painter said Tuesday that Simpson was undergoing tests and wasn’t sure of the forward’s availability.
Hopefully, we will know something in the next day or so, Painter said. Anytime something like that happens, that’s really scary. You fall down with no contact. You want to be extra careful and do everything in your power to try to figure out what is going on.