Well, sure…there are some reasons to remain optimistic. This is a new season for the Cats, and by some of the comments that they've made throughout the week, they are viewing it that way. However, this is a much different season. It's a one and done. You lose, and you're out…going home…waiting ‘till next year. That's not exactly something that you look forward to.
At 4:20 pacific time, the Cats will take on the Boilermakers. This game tends to remind a lot of people about last year's first round game against another Big Ten team, Wisconsin. We know that the book is out on the majority of the Big Ten teams, but the same can be said about Arizona. They like to run, and they like to play an up tempo game. That's something Purdue's coach, Matt Painter, has said that he does not want to get into with Arizona.
On the other hand, Purdue loves to play in your face, tell you what you had for lunch type defense. They also prefer slowing the game down and turning it into a game that's low scoring. Sure, Arizona is capable of playing that kind of style, but we've all seen what happens when they don't do the things necessary in order to compete in a game of that nature.
Purdue is led by two seniors, Carl Landry (18.9 ppg, 7.1 rpg) & David Teague (14.3 ppg, 5.1 rpg). Landry and Teague are the only two players averaging in double figures for the Boilermakers, but that suits them just fine. The other guys are asked to do the little things; hustle for loose balls, clean up the garbage points, play defense, etc. They have one guy who averages over 30 minutes a game, David Teague, while having seven other players who play 15 minutes or more. Expect Purdue to use all 8 guys to see what type of advantages that they can get on Arizona.
Arizona must control the tempo of this game. It looks to be an absolute must or we could be looking at another Washington State type game for Arizona. We all saw what they did against Wisconsin in last year's tournament, by jumping on them from the start and not letting up. That's something the Cats need to do in order to make this a game of their nature.
The Cats must also limit turnovers since this is something that the Boilermakers thrive on creating. If they can create turnovers, it'll lead to easy points. Another situation that Arizona cannot afford to have happen. Maybe the most important thing would be to control Carl Landry. Landry loves physicality, which is something that could work against Arizona and their two big men, Ivan Radenovic & Jordan Hill. Landry should be able to muscle a guy like Radenovic around, and with Hill's inability to stay out of foul trouble at times this year, that could also work against Arizona.
StatFreak101's Keys to Victory: Containing Teague & Landry will be crucial in today's game. If the Cats allow these two to dictate how the game goes, especially the offensive end, it could spell trouble for the Cats. Landry is the only player on the Boilermakers that has attempted more than 100 free throws. The next closet…forward Gordon Watt with 72. Why is this significant? Because it's easy points for a team. The Cats will give Purdue their fair share of easy buckets in today's game, so doubling that will not improve the Cats chances of winning the game.
Secondly, limiting turnovers while creating turnovers. As I mentioned above, Purdue loves to produce turnovers in order to get easy chances but to also limit the offensive chances for the opposing team. On the other hand, the Cats must create turnovers for themselves. Getting in the passing lanes, active hands, jumping the cut, will all be areas as to where the Cats can produce turnovers. I still feel that good offense results from strong defense, which we've seen at times from this team this year. It's just a matter of getting it on a consistent basis.
Lastly, composure and handling adversity will be a huge aspect of today's game. We've seen, at times this year, that when things begin to snowball for this team in a negative way, they begin losing their composure. They begin to value the ball less by taking quick shots, turning it over, etc. They must realize that it's the NCAA Tournament, and that things aren't always going to go their way. The Cats must weather the storm, and realize that Purdue is going to make a run, or two, and that the Cats will miss a few shots in a row here and there. It's just a matter of someone, anybody, stepping up and finally showcasing their leadership for this team.
I always have believed that people deserve a second chance. Well, this is Arizona's second chance to right the ship and to turn this thing around, and it starts (or ends) tonight.