NCAA Basketball Tournament - Purdue v Kansas

Could Matt Painter use zone defenses at Purdue this season?

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Purdue head coach Matt Painter has always been an advocate of man-to-man defensive principles. As a disciple of former Boliermaker head coach Gene Keady, that was only natural.

Keady and Painter have always stuck with man-to-man defenses at Purdue, but with the 2014-15 Boilermakers lacking lockdown defenders, Painter might be open to utilizing more zones.

With five incoming freshmen and center A.J. Hammons being a mediocre defender away from the basket, Painter told Nathan Baird of the Lafayette Journal & Courier that zone looks could come into play for Purdue’s defense during the 2014-15 season.

Over the last three seasons in the Big Ten, Purdue ranked last in scoring defense last season and was 11th in 2012-13 and 9th in 2011-12.

“Everything’s new to them,” Painter said to Baird. “You can’t teach down to the class. You’ve got to think about who you think are your best assets and who is going to help you be the most productive.

“You start with A.J.’s strengths and weaknesses. I think this helps him a little bit and keeps him at the rim. Does it lead to more rebounds for him? Does it lead to more blocks for him? It’s very hypothetical. In theory, one would think so because he stays at the rim a whole lot more than he used to.”

Purdue also needs to throw talented offensive players on the floor to improve last season’s 32 percent three-point shooting, so that could mean multiple lineups featuring both sophomore Kendall Stephens and freshman Dakota Mathias. Although Stephens and Mathias can both spread the floor around Hammons, neither are considered plus defenders on the wing. A change to an occasional zone could help with those lineups.

“We’re going to put the best offensive team out there at some point, if there’s not just lock-down defensive guys. I don’t feel like we have that at this point. We’ve had that throughout the years. If we don’t have that I think we’re going to have something better from an offensive standpoint, just to be more efficient,” Painter said to Baird.

Although this would be a dramatic change in culture for Purdue and Painter, it might be necessary given the Boilers’ lack of elite perimeter defenders and need for additional shooting around Hammons. Purdue has steadily gotten worse on the defensive end over the last three seasons and Painter is clearly looking at some use of zone as a potential solution.

No. 25 Texas A&M outlasts No. 10 Gonzaga

Billy Kennedy
AP Photo/Chuck Burton
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No. 25 Texas A&M made a statement on Turkey Day, as they knocked off No. 10 Gonzaga 62-61 in the semifinals of the Battle 4 Atlantis.

Danuel House led the way with 19 points for the Aggies while Tony Trocha-Morales finished with 14 points as Texas A&M picked up the win despite the fact that they did not score for the final eight minutes of the game.

Billy Kennedy’s club looked the part of an SEC contender, playing tough defense and keeping Gonzaga’s massive and talented front line in check. Perhaps most impressive was that they were able to hang on despite blowing a lead late in the second half, and that they did it with their defense. Gonzaga can score. They have big bodies inside and shooters to surround them, but Domantas Sabonis struggled with foul struggle throughout the game while Kyle Wiltjer did not score in the final 12 minutes.

Kentucky, at this point, is the clear-cut favorite in the SEC, and while Vanderbilt looked really good in Maui this week, A&M looks like they’re going to end up giving the Commodores a run for their money for second-best in the league.

On the other hand, this loss wasn’t a total disaster for the Zags. They had the final possession with a chance to be a good team on a day when Domantas Sabonis was rendered completely ineffective. And, more importantly, point guard Josh Perkins was terrific. He did have a late turnover, but he scored all 15 of his points in the second half as he helped keep the Zags within striking distance.

Texas A&M will play the winner of Syracuse and No. 18 UConn for the title.

PREGAME SHOOTAROUND: Thanksgiving Day Edition!

Kevin Ollie
(AP Photo/Ricardo Arduengo)
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GAME OF THE NIGHT: Syracuse vs. No. 18 UConn, 3:30 p.m.

For the first time since the Orange departed the Big East, the two former rivals will square off. Today’s battle will take place at the Battle 4 Atlantis, as the Orange knocked off Charlotte yesterday and the Huskies dispatched Michigan. To get ready for this battle, I’d suggest ready through the conversation @NoEscalators had with himself last night.

THIS ONE’S GOOD, TOO: No. 25 Texas A&M vs. No. 10 Gonzaga, 1:00 p.m.

The other semifinal in the Battle 4 Atlantis could end up being just as good, as the Aggies — who might be the second best team in the SEC — square off with a Gonzaga team that has one of the best front lines in the country. This will be a good test to figure out just how good both of these teams are.


1. No. 20 Wichita State vs. USC, 2:00 p.m.: The Shockers will be without Fred VanVleet for this event. It will also be a chance for us to gauge just how good this 4-0 USC team is.

2. No. 23 Xavier vs. Alabama, 12:00 p.m: The Musketeers should have no problems dispatching Alabama.

3. No. 8 Villanova vs. Stanford, 4:30 p.m.: The Wildcats are, once again, as good as any team in the country. Josh Hart might be the nation’s most underrated star.

4. No. 14 Cal vs. San Diego State, 12:00 a.m.: Tyrone Wallace and company have been awesome this season. They get their first real test of the season tonight.

5. Providence vs. Evansville, 7:00 p.m.: Evansville is one of the nation’s best mid-majors, good enough to give the likes of Wichita State and Northern Iowa a fight in the Missouri Valley. And Providence? They got a kid named Kris Dunn. Heard of him?


  • No. 3 Michigan State vs. Boston College, 6:30 p.m.
  • No. 11 Arizona vs. Santa Clara, 11:30 p.m.
  • No. 17 Notre Dame vs. Monmouth, 6:30 p.m.