I don't want to compare the basketball program to the tailspinning football season, but the excitement heading into the preseason opener last night sort of reminded me of the excitement in Indianapolis before the football team left for Cincinnati.
There was optimism everywhere, many were bullish on the Boilermakers (as you'll hear from Brian Neubert in our Handsome Hour podcast to be posted later today) as a 20-24 win team this season. Then the Boilers ground out an 80-73 victory over an overmatched Indianapolis team, a game that Purdue trailed late in the first half before stretching the lead out to 17 in the second half. This close a game had many Boiler fans concerned.
It's certanily fair to still think, of course, that the season can be great for Purdue, as exhibition games are just that -- exhibition games. Syracuse famously lost to LeMoyne a few years ago, and while we had a good time with that, it didn't mean Syracuse wasn't Syracuse anymore.
Coaches use these games to try things out and I'd be willing to bet that coaches like Matt Painter aren't looking at this game as a game they need to win -- they're looking at it as a glorified scrimmage and a chance to mix and match players and formulas to see what might provide a nice spark or energy. So what I'm saying is, looking at this game by itself, I wouldn't want you to be too concerned. I feel like if Purdue only wanted to win and prove a point, they could run up the score on an Indianapolis.
However, that said, when the team looks as discombobulated and listless as they did at times last year, particularly towards the end, starting the season off exhibiting some of those eerily same features is.....concerning.
Oh, you weren't able to see the game? Because BTN was showing volleyball and the game wasn't offered on BTN2Go? Oh, yeah, interesting, isn't it? It's 2013 and yet it was nearly impossible to see the Purdue basketball game unless you were inside Mackey. Fortunately, they did let fans and media in. Chris Emma's writeup at BSR is here, Cliff Brunt's story at ISL is here, and here are some highlights of the game:
I realize these are the highlights and that Purdue actually only shot (a somewhat concerning) 40% from the floor, but what I do like in the limited highlights is the player movement, ball movement and willingness to shoot. Plus, it's nice to have a number of guys who look comfortable taking long shots. Let's also hope that Boilermaker D is back for good and the aggressive shot-blocking continues.
For those who attended, please share your thoughts in the comments.