Keep it moving
Motion offenses can be pretty to watch and difficult to play against.
“It’s hard to guard because players never stop running around,” Kansas point guard Tyshawn Taylor said.
Yep, that’s why they call it motion offense. And it’s what the Jayhawks will see tonight from Purdue.
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“They run the motion offense as well as anyone,” KU coach Bill Self said. “Easy to scout but the hardest to prepare for.”
He knows that well because KU saw regularly during Bob Knight’s coaching days at Texas Tech.
You don’t think of motion offense coming a team in the Big Ten, a conference known more its inside power games than fluid motion.
But this is a year where the Boilermakers don’t have a true center, relying on 6-foot-8 All-Big Ten performer Robbie Hummel for its only regular size. Point guard Lewis Jackson steps in at 5-9, 165 pounds.
Purdue also has physical strength on the perimeter with the likes of D.J. Byrd (6-4, 234). But mostly the Boilermakers worked their way through the tall trees of the Big Ten — for better or worse — by stretching defenses with their motion and then driving to the basket.
Expect the same tonight.
Forcing the issue
The Boilermakers lead the nation with the lowest turnover average per game (8.7). KU gets its offense going by forcing turnovers.
Something has to give.
“We feed off turnovers,” KU 7-footer Jeff Withey said. “We’ll try to speed them up and get them to turn it over.”
Star vs. star
Hummel expects to draw the assignment of guarding 6-10 Thomas Robinson.
“I don’t know if he’s that tall,” Hummel said. “But I’ve played against tall guys in the Big Ten.”
Purdue coach Matt Painter expects to mix things up by bringing in one of his two 6-9 sophomores, Travis Carroll and Sandi Marcius.
Carroll had been Purdue’s main big-man backup during the season, but Painter has leaned more toward Marcius since the Big Ten Tournament.
“We’ll mix it up guarding (Withey and Robinson),” Painter said. “But they do some interchangeable things with their bigs. They’ll slip out of ball screens or roll and replace at a ball screen.
“Sometimes you end up staying low or high or returning high. But we’re not going to change what we do because of who we’re playing.”
Offensively, that means playing through Hummel.
“When you have a 6-8 guy that can dribble, pass and shoot,” Painter said, “you want to put the ball in his hands and have space and stretch things out to put guys in good position.”
Blue from the border
It wasn’t lost on the Boilermakers that KU blue dominated the crowd in the Jayhawks’ Friday night victory over Detroit. And they expect to see more of it tonight.
“It was kind of a home game for them,” guard Terone Johnson said. “You look out there and see a lot of blue everywhere you look.”
Jackson, a senior, recalled playing as a freshman against Washington in Portland, Ore. Purdue won 76-74 to reach the 2009 Sweet 16.
“It’s kind of like a road game, so it helps the guys be a little more focused in understanding the crowd isn’t in our favor,” Jackson said. “We can maybe come out and keep that crowd quiet.”
Big Ten vs. Big 12
The Big Ten was considered the top conference this season with the Big 12 No. 2.
“They’ve already played in a lot of big games,” KU Conner Teahan said of the Boilermakers, “so we know they’ll be ready. But a lot of guys on our team think the Big 12 is right up there. Baylor, Missouri, Iowa State ….great teams. And from head to toe, our conference is just as good as anybody’s.
“So being able to prove that would be something that we’ll focus on.”
— Rick Plumlee