Wait, wait, wait. This can't be right. I must be reading this wrong. Purdue pulled off the upset of the mighty Siena Saints in the first round of the tourney?
Hell yes, you bet your sweet ass they did, 72-64.
Sorry, but we -- along with every other loyal Boilermaker -- are fricking sick and tired of our 28-5 squad being minimized and written off. Yes, they played poorly last Saturday against Minnesota. News flash: it's not last Saturday.
Were we thrilled with this performance? No, we were not, and neither were you, in all likelihood. And that's because those of us who are real fans of this team know they're still capable of big things. Rob's absence hurts, to be sure, but with two current all-conference guys, a former all-conference guy and the current Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year, it was a little premature to suggest the Purdue Boilermakers wouldn't dispatch a MAAC team. Not a MAC team -- a MAAC team.
The Saints were all but favored in today's game and Brando and Gminski calling the game on CBS really -- REALLY -- wanted to be calling a 13 over 4 upset. Sorry, fellas, to disappoint you, but Purdue doesn't lose in the first round. It just doesn't happen.
The first hald was complained about by Boiler faithful, including us...BUT, while it was not a good half, the good guys were only down three. To try to be impartial for a moment, if nothing goes right for a team and they're only down 3, that's actually a good sign.
In the first half, there was plenty to be concerned about, as Moore played soft, nobody could rebound and JJ seemed to shrink three sizes against a team he could -- and needed to -- dominate.
Boilerdowd and I commented that we hoped Coach Matty got this team's attention at halftime. I think he did.
When the second half began, the Boilers played the game they are capable of playing, dominating defensively, converting breaks, forcing steals and bad passes, grabbing rebounds and asserting themselves with rattling dunks. As I said to b-dowd after the game, wouldn't you love to see them play that way for even one complete half? They'd be up 20+ on almost anybody.
Ryne Smith finally arrived and took the uniform from the imposter who has been wearing it all season. We kid, of course, as we love all our Boilermakers equally, but it was terrific to see Ryne hit a couple of huge threes. That was about it from the bench, though, as the Boilers' starters did an OSU impression, with everyone but Lew getting 31 minutes or more.
Concerns include the one we knew would continue -- without Rob, rebounding is a huge, HUGE problem. Being outrebounded 42-37 by a MAAC school is.... how you say..... not good. The Saints' top two rebounders had 25 combined, but the good news is JJ led all with 15 boards. Let's aim for our boys keeping the rebounding battle close going forward and we'll all agree to call that a win. Agreed?
Special mention to the efforts of the seniors. Keaton Grant started slowly but kept shooting -- and we needed him to -- and knocked down three treys. And, of course, Chris Kramer became Chris Kramer in the second half, stealing balls, getting breakaway dunks and pissing off the opposition. For those who missed it, early in the second half, as Purdue was making a big run, Kramer saved a ball going out of bounds and whaled it off of Siena's Kyle Downey (I believe), who did not care for that. He stepped up towards Kramer, who gave him that patented, Kramer Look of Disdain. We were all thinking it, too: Mr. Downey, trust us, you want no part of Chris Kramer. E'Twaun Moore stepped between the two and saved Downey from becoming a permanent part of the hardwood.
In the end, the game was a marginal performance, except for about the first 10-12 minutes of the second half. In this case, that was all that was needed. In the next game, we'll likely need more than just 1/4 effort, boys. Hopefully, they're pacing themselves. That said, we liked what we saw. It looked like the guys were increasing learning who they are. It's been hard to pinpoint exactly what to expect from this team, especially since Rob went down. Let's hope they've begun to seriously figure it out.
Oh, and continuing our memo to the mainsteam media: We do not want any props from you anymore. We get accused of whining when you slight our program over and over and over. No more. We quit on hoping you wise up. Leave 'em for dead, it's fine with us. And that includes next year. We don't want to hear a damn bit of pro-Purdue out of stooges like Goodman at Fox, Parrish at CBS, Katz at ESPN, or any other similarly uninformed buffoon who hasn't watched a Purdue game all year. Suck it, all of you. We're through hoping for respect. Our boys will force you to not be able to ignore them. Kind of like they did -- again -- today.
This way to the second round, boys!