ANN ARBOR, Mich. – Purdue has plenty of length.
Led by A.J. Hammons (7-foot), Caleb Swanigan (6-9) and Vince Edwards (6-8), No. 18 Boilermakers (20-5, 8-4 Big Ten) have one of the biggest front courts in the country, as Michigan (18-7, 8-4) coach John Beilein readies his Wolverines for their home contest at 2 p.m. on Saturday.
In fact, Beilein says Hammons (14.7 points, 8.2 rebounds) and Swanigan (9.8, 8.8) present quite the “challenge” to U-M’s smaller lineup.
“Having Swanigan and Hammons in together is a load,” Beilein said. “They are the premiere low post team in the country. Not necessarily a strength of ours if you’ve been watching our games. It’s quite a challenge.”
That was the case on Jan. 7, when Purdue defeated U-M 87-70 at Mackey Arena.
“So we got to have our defense orchestrated so that we can protect in the post to not give them enough,” Beilein said. “Sometimes we overdid it last time. And they threw it up over the top because we were trying too hard. They got easy, easy layups. So we got to work hard on not giving them easy layups.”
Adding: “Also understanding for 4 years Hammonds has been posting up and posting up, and they do a really a good job of feeding him. I mean, 80- percent of their generated offense in some games post is involved somewhere.”
Zak Irvin finished with four points on 1-of-8 shooting in U-M’s 82-74 win at Minnesota on Wednesday. And while he did struggle, he still has the complete backing of his coach.
“In Big Ten play he is one of our leaders right now in the three-point shooting,” Beilein said of Irvin. “And so he only took one 3-point shot the other day. He was 1-for-8, but he two that went right for the rim. I think he’s doing just fine.”
Shooting on the go
Duncan Robinson shot 4-of-7 from 3s against Minnesota, finishing with 14 points, but is still a work-in-progress when it come to shooting on the move, says Beilein.
“He does have to work on getting his shot off quicker and being able to shoot it on the move,” Beilein said of Robinson. “But he’s one of those guys, there are some guys who are stand still shooters, you put them on the move and they can’t shoot at all. When we put him on the move in drills, there is no difference. He’s just not used to it. We have to do more of it to get him on the move. To get people chasing him a little bit.”