The other night, as you know, Purdue was .500 heading into their game against a ranked Illinois team. The Boilers were looking at a tough season ahead and there were some concerns about how good they'd be this season, but most of the faithful had confidence that the Boilers would become good in the near future.
One thing we all remained confident about was that Coach Painter would work on these guys and mold them into his team. We knew they'd get better and most of us believed they would steal some games they might not be expected to win. We weren't sure was ahead, but we knew it would be a challenge.
Then Wednesday night happened and the Boilers took down the Illini at home (granted, it was a 13-1 Illini team ranked 11, not a 14-6 Illini team barely in the top 25). The fans got loud during the game and the Paint Crew contributed to the mayhem. The cheers seemed to be a mix of "it's about time" and pride, as the Boilers made Mackey the place it has frequently been during Matt Painter's tenure. As the clock found zero, the fans cheered louder and the players congratulated each other, smiling broadly as they learned what this kind of win feels like in the Big Ten.
Matt Painter shook hands with John Groce and the team worked its way to the locker room. The fans sang the fight song and headed for the exits. It was a fun night. It was a win over the #11 team in the country, who to that point only had one loss. And it pushed Purdue over .500. But it was something you expect from a good program.
Do you know what didn't happen? Stuff that happens when you're small time. The fans didn't go berserk and rush the court. We rarely do that at Purdue. Beating ranked teams isn't court-storm-worthy. Beating top ten teams isn't really, either, since you know, you're at home and you are supposed to beat good teams at home.
Another thing that didn't happen? Matt Painter wasn't seen acting like a complete buffoon in the concourse at Mackey, leaping like a goon and raising his arms like he was a champion. Painter also didn't feel the need to go into the crowd and hug and kiss his family in a phony move before shaking the opposing coach's hand. Which we thought was nice.
We continue to be thrilled that our head coach is who he is, that our fans are who they are, and that our players are who they are. The train is coming, folks, and we'll celebrate when the time is right. Just not about the little baby steps that get taken on the way there.
We expect those.