Friday, March 18, 2011

Purdue Injuries Could Help Saint Peter's

Your blogging hoopscribe anxiously awaits tonight's 7:20 p.m. start of Saint Peter's first-round NCAA tournament game against Purdue, nationally televised on TNT.

The recliner is in place. The 42-inch TV screen is checked and operational. The popcorn is set to go into the microwave.

And, just maybe, Saint Peter's is ready to pull off one of the biggest upsets of this year's tournament.

How big? Since 1994 Purdue is 12-0 in first-round NCAA tournament games. And, this is basically the same Purdue team that handled Siena, arguably the best team to come through the MAAC in more than a decade, in last year's first-round contest.

For sure the current Saint Peter's team is no Siena of recent vintage.

But, that might not be such a bad thing.

The Saints were much more of a finesse team a year ago than the current Peacocks' squad. And, remember, Siena wasn't overmatched against Purdue, getting to within three points with 1:07 remaining before eventually losing, 72-64. But, remember, that Siena team played that game without its primary long-range shooting threat Clarence Jackson (ankle injury).

Who knows what might have happened had Siena been at full strength.

Saint Peter's, by all accounts, is at full strength. And, the Peacocks play a decidedly different style than the Saints.

Saint Peter's employs a bruising defensive intensity style that would seem, at leat to this observer, to be a better match for a similarly physical Purdue squad.

Here's one other reason to hope, if you're a Saint Peter's fan: Purdue has only eight players who appear in at least 10 minutes per game. One of them will definitely miss tonight's game, and the status of two others is questionable.

Certain to miss tonight's game is 6-foot-5 guard Kelsey Barlow, suspended for disciplary reasons. He is Purdue's 5th-leading scorer (5.0 points per game).

Two other guards are questionable with injuries. 6-3 guar Ryne Smith, the team's fourth-leading scoer (6.0 ppg.) is recovering from a minor concussion suffered in practice this past Sunday but claims, in a published report, that he plans to play tonight; and 6-2 guard John Hart (his 4.0 ppg. average is 8th best on the team), suffered a foot injury in a recent practice and published reports indicate tht he has about a 50-50 chance of seeing action tonight.

It all would seem to add up to the Peacocks having a better chance of pulling an upset tonight than most would believe.

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