Our Boilers had high expectations heaped upon them this year and honestly, much of that was warranted, but not all of it. Our Boilers have talent, but don't have depth that's needed in the meat grinder of the BT season, MSU did have that talent and depth...they won the regular season title.
But, 9 losses for this team was too many, and a lot of Boiler fans and some players (that I heard in interviews) expressed at the end of the regular season that there was still a lot of work to do before this season could be called a success. Part of the itinerary was check off this weekend in Indy as Purdue rolled through PSU, Illinois and finally beat aOSU for the crown.
In the process, the Ostrich was named tourney MVP...and the all-tourney team was dominated by Boilermakers- JJ, Smooge and the Ostrich were all on the all-tourney team. While the big three enjoyed the accolades, you simply can't discount this team's effort. Specifically, Chris Kramer's hard-nosed defense.
In fact, Kramer's defense might be what spelled doom for the Buckeyes this afternoon. With about 10:00 left, Kramer seemed to turn up the defensive pressure in the backcourt and as he did so, jump shots stopped falling and aOSU's Buford cooled off. While the defense made it difficult, the offense jumped on the back of Smooge, who scored 14 of his team-high 17 points in the second half. This was a good test of our Boilers' collective will as Purdue didn't shoot shoot as well, from behind the arc, the free throw line or elsewhere as the Bucks...but, they took care of the ball and had more blocked shots, steals and a lot more rebounds than their opponent.
And speaking of doing the little things, how about this line for R. Hummel- only 9 points...but he had 11 rebounds, 5ast, 2 blk and only one TO. Kramer had a similar game- 6pts (while going 4-4 from the stripe as Ms. Hill yapped in his ear), 4reb, 3ast, 4stl...and my man LewJack played quietly, but controlled the pace and had a 4:0 ast:TO ratio.
Here's the deal- our Boilers showed glimpses of how well they can play...but have yet to play a game in which the defense is complete and the offense is complete...or a game in which JJ, Smooge and Hummel are all really "on" for the entire contest...and I think they can and will play that type of game before the season ends. Plus, Hummel's back was amply-tested this weekend with three games in as many days and he was still smiling as the clock hit 0:00; a great sign indeed.
We'll talk a bit about what's next and how the tournament committe was clearly huffing paint in their office in downtown Nap...but until then, I'll do as Matty does and focus on the fact that you don't play the seed number, you play the team...and our Boilers have been tested and are ready to go-
They've faced stacks of blue chips in the form of Oklahoma, Duke, MSU and aOSU...they've faced hostile environments in Madison and East Lansing...they've faced intense defenses by Duke, MSU, Illinois and Wisconsin...and they've faced super-stars like Griffin, Henderson, Singler, Curry, Turner, Lucas and Pritchard (I kid, I kid)...and they're ready.
It's time to take the next step in a journey that hopefully has three more stops.