Purdue’s style similar to ’96-97 Gophers team

Michael Rand

The comparisons between this year’s Purdue team and last year’s Minnesota team are perhaps premature, but they are also timely and relevant.
Purdue (12-3, 1-1 in the Big Ten) beat Minnesota (7-5, 0-1) on Friday with a style that might have looked familiar to many in Williams Arena: tough perimeter defense, good shot selection, experienced post play and, most importantly, depth.
The Gophers used the same ingredients — with different names and a slightly different style — to reach the Final Four last season. The Boilermakers, ranked No. 5 in the country after an impressive non-conference season, hope to do the same.
“It’s important for our bench to contribute,” said Purdue’s Gary McQuay, who contributed five points and three rebounds in a reserve role. “Everyone has to play a part in our success.”
Along the same lines — although to a lesser extent than last season — Gophers coach Clem Haskins wants to develop his team’s depth.
Against Purdue, four Minnesota players scored in double figures, and 10 players played at least eight minutes. But Sam Jacobson, Quincy Lewis and Eric Harris each logged at least 33 minutes, and part of Minnesota’s bench play was necessitated by the team’s foul trouble (Miles Tarver and Kyle Sanden both fouled out).
“We don’t have enough depth yet to go to the Final Four or defend our Big Ten Championship, but we’re working on it,” Haskins said. “You’ve got to have nine or 10 guys who can play, and that’s what happened to (Purdue) tonight.”
Cardinal sin
Unfortunately for Purdue’s Brian Cardinal, a clan of 30 cannot drown out a screaming, angry throng of close to 15,000.
Were that the case, the Boilermakers’ power forward would have heard nothing but cheers and encouragement from Twin Cities relatives — instead of taunts and boos from a decidedly partial (read: unsupportive at best) Williams Arena crowd.
Cardinal, who left 22 tickets for his large extended family in the area, is often the target of opposing fans. Friday was no exception.
“It’s interesting. I don’t go out there to take anyone’s head off. But the fans see me working hard and get other ideas,” said Cardinal, adding he is sure his family was among the cheering few, not the jeering many.
Cardinal also has some support from someone other than a relative.
“He’s an outstanding player,” said Gophers swingman Sam Jacobson, who played with Cardinal on the U.S. 22 & Under team this summer. “I think people only look at him as being dirty, but he’s a great basketball player. He does so much for his team. He works tremendously hard. I know him personally, and he’s a great kid.”
Pop goes the blood vessel
After watching another classic Gene Keady performance Friday, it was no surprise to hear from McQuay that the Purdue coach chose a rather vocal route in expressing his displeasure with the Boilermakers’ Big Ten-opening loss to Michigan State.
“A lot of yelling,” McQuay said when asked how Keady got his team ready for Minnesota. “Then some more yelling. After that — more yelling.”
Under the hoop
ù Chad Austin (18.3 points per game average) and Brad Miller (16.9 ppg) combined to score only 21 points. Miller was in foul trouble much of the game and Austin was slowed by a leg injury.
ù The Gophers have now lost eight of their last 10 to the Boilermakers. Minnesota won both meetings last year, after losing seven in a row to Purdue.
ù The Gophers had won five consecutive Big Ten openers prior to Friday’s game.