The theme of the rest of this season is going to be building. It's time to build for the future and hopefully have a little fun on the way. Purdue is unlikely to win many games in conference play and at this point the tourney is a dream, but when we get to watch Raphael Davis, A.J. Hammons, Jay Simpson and Ronnie Johnson a few years down the line, it's all going to be that much sweeter.
This season has been disappointing to say the least. At the beginning of the season a lot of us thought this team was going to be the reincarnation of the "Baby Boilers" and was supposed to rival their season; but they had some big shoes to fill.
After starting 4-6 this season, it's clear that this team is struggling at almost every aspect of the game right now and is disappointing to watch. Those of you who suffered through that EMU defeat or the Notre Dame game, you know what I'm talking about. Both games were just simply hard to watch.
If you read, Put Hope in the Rearview: Hoops Season is Near, it seems like an alcohol laced dream at this point. In the article I said there were six games that Purdue should win, all of which have happened thus far, except EMU. I also explained that there were six games that might be wins, but very well could be losses, too: Bucknell, Nova, Oregon State, Clemson, Xavier and West Virginia (that post focused on non-conference play). Plus throw in there a game that I didn't really think Purdue had a chance in, Notre Dame.
I said Purdue was looking at 10-3 going into conference play, okay you can stop laughing now. I firmly believe that a different outcome in the Nova game could have flipped this season completely, but there is no need to even think about that now, that robbery is gone and past. That being said, Purdue will go into conference play .500... hopefully.
Ball State isn't that great. Their leading scorer is from Lafayette, Indiana, Jesse Berry, so he will be looking to put on a show presumably. In case you haven't heard, he doesn't like to pass the ball.
The Boilermakers outmatch the Cardinals in size and talent, but as the game against EMU proved, if you can't score the ball, you aren't going to win. That being said, Mackey Arena isn't an easy place to play for visiting teams and is usually friendly to the Boilermakers, so hopefully that can propel Purdue to a win.
On a side note, I'm terrified that I am contemplating that this game could potentially be a loss.
William and Mary actually has a decent squad this season and could be a test for Purdue, but once again the talent level sides with the Boilermakers and unless a total collapse occurs (which it might) they should be able to squeak this one out as well, which leaves Purdue at 6-6.
What I've come to terms with, though, is this:
This season isn't about record, this season is about building for the future and putting the bricks in place to build a great team. Sure it's rough to watch a team shoot 29 percent from the field in a game, but it's all part of growing up and learning together as a team.
Purdue doesn't get one and done talent and, really, would you want it that way? Matt Painter develops players, that's just what he does. And once these guys figure out his system, they are going to be a team to watch out for.
The class of Robbie Hummel, E'Twaun Moore and JaJuan Johnson was special, but it's hard to expect freshman to come into the Painter system and preform at the level of Smooge and Hummel, but there will be bright spots to this class.
I expect this team to pull of some upsets in conference play this year, and as the year progresses they should become more fun to watch, although that wouldn't be hard to do with the state of things right now.
I'll leave you with this, don't lose faith in this squad or Matt Painter just yet. Sure this season is surely being written off by Boilermakers everywhere, but if you look at the talent Purdue has on the court right now and the class that is coming in next season, things are only going to go up from here.