Purdue employs a guard-oriented lineup stocked with shooters and ballhandlers. The Boilermakers started four players under 6-feet-5 along with 6-foot-8 forward Robbie Hummel against St. Mary’s on Friday. This means Hummel is likely to draw the defensive assignment on Kansas forward Thomas Robinson.
“You just gotta make sure you don’t give him angles,” Hummel said. “Make him score over you. He’s a very good player. So he’s gonna make some shots. You just have to make sure that when he does miss, you get the rebound.”
Hummel said guarding Robinson would likely be similar to guarding Ohio State forward Jared Sullinger, who averaged 24 points against Purdue in two games this season.
Bill Self vs. Big Ten
Bill Self spent three years at Illinois during 2000-2003. So maybe he doesn’t have his master’s degree in Big Ten basketball, but he certainly has an understanding of how Big Ten teams operate. And tonight’s game will be just the third time Kansas has faced a Big Ten team in the tournament since Self took over in 2003-04. The Jayhawks fell to Michigan State in the Sweet 16 in 2009 before knocking off Illinois in the round of 32 last season.
A few Purdue players said Kansas’ style appeared similar to many teams in the Big Ten, especially Michigan State and Ohio State. Self didn’t seem to be totally on board when the comparison was brought up, before eventually saying that he’d take it as a compliment.
“The majority of the (Big Ten) teams have bigs,” Self said, “And certainly we’ve got those this year. At least a couple of them.”
If there’s one player on Kansas who shouldn’t have been surprised by the early-round stunners in the NCAA Tournament, it’s junior forward Kevin Young, who spent his first two college seasons at Loyola-Marymount in the West Coast Conference.
Young said he was quietly hoping the Jayhawks would play another West Coast Conference school, No. 7 seed St. Mary’s, in their second game. Instead, St. Mary’s fell to Purdue.
“Any given night, any team can come out and play good,” Young said. “I played in a smaller conference, and there’s a lot of great teams out there. So it’s not shocking.”
In his first season at Kansas, Young has proved himself capable of contributing in spurts. And that ability showed up again on Friday against Detroit, with Young finishing with nine points and three rebounds in 22 minutes.
“There’s athleticism and talent everywhere you go,” Young said. “It’s college basketball. I think it’s just a roll of a dice on any given night.”
Don’t tell the Purdue players that the CenturyLink Center in Omaha is supposed to be a “neutral” court. They saw the large contingent of KU supporters that flooded the arena on Friday night, and they expect much of the same tonight.
“It kind of became a home game for them,” Purdue’s Terone Johnson said.
Still, a few veteran Boilermakers have memories of knocking off a tourney opponent in its own backyard. In the 2009 tournament, seniors Hummel and Lewis Jackson helped No. 5 seed Purdue knock off No. 4 Washington in front of a partisan crowd in Portland, Ore.
“It’s kind of like a road game,” Jackson said, “and it helps that guys be a little more focused in understanding the crowd isn’t in our favor.”
| Rustin Dodd, email@example.com