Not all of the letters of intent have come in yet, so we're not going to look at the football class just yet. But, it looks like most of the incoming players have sent in their letters. A few haven't- I wouldn't worry about it if I was you- as in a ton of aspects of life, worrying will do you absolutely no good. If one of these kids gets woo'd away by a bright, shiny object, so be it. Let's hope the guys that end up in the program really want to be there and fulfill the needs at hand. We'll have more later.
Kohl is tough to Crack
Here's the deal- there's a reason Wisconsin wins so many games at home. First, they're great at home. They know the rims, their crowd is hostile and they have a good coach. But, having BT officials as part of the game surely doesn't hurt them.
Wisconsin plays a style of basketball that sets the game back to pre-1980, in my opinion. They slow teams down by grabbing, tugging, reaching over the back, shoving and reaching in. They've done it for longer than Bo was there. Back when Dick Bennett was there, they did the same thing...but those teams couldn't score. Bo's teams can.
Ryan simply dares the officials to blow their whistles on every possession...whether at home or away. The good thing for him is that guys like Burr, Hightower, O'Neill, Valentine and others love to be part of a good show. They love getting the crowd into a lather as they make up hand signals that have nothing to do with the game of basketball. They like hopping down the baseline, chirping their whistles as they try to figure out what they're supposed to call. I think more than half the time, they're just making sure they can come up with a believable story to help the home team (Wisconsin, Purdue or where ever). The clowns in stripes protect the homecourt as well as the team in light colored jerseys, in my opinion.
That's why, when travelling, a team has to be better, sharper, more resilient and more on-task than the home team...a lot more. We all know the deal. Road games are a chance for All-Conference players, or All-Americans even, to step up and become great...to surprise everyone in the arena...to silence the natives and fight through atrocious officiating and earn a victory. Purdue didn't do that yesterday. Two of Purdue's greatest players in the history of the program simply weren't able to get it done. The beating JJ had taken had seemingly worn him down so much that the shots he usually makes were way off. Similarly, Smooge was way off the mark down the stretch of the game. It could have been because of injury, but we'll never know. He's not the kind of guy to complain. After understanding the state of his shot, he started to see himself as a second option...but no one in Purdue's backcourt creates like 33.
By the way, the final foul count last night was 19 to 11. ELEVEN frickin' fouls for Wisconsin. That's not the reason Purdue lost, but there is simply no way in hell that the goons from Wisconsin were able to play that sort of squeaky-clean game.
Purdue couldn't overcome. Our Boilers couldn't put the Badgers away when they had them on the ropes with 11:00 left. That's why they lost this game...that's why they lost the WVU game. They've had the killer instinct versus the lower-half of the league, but simply haven't found it against the top-third on the road. How that translates at a neutral court in March, who knows. But, old habits die hard. And until Matty, JJ, Smooge and co figure out how to get over the hump away from the cozy confines of Mackey Arena, nothing's going to change.
J and I have had a hope since before this season- And it had nothing to do with Purdue winning the Big Ten. It was that they'd be playing their best basketball in March. It was a hope that they'd be a full-strength come tourney time and that one or both of the Big Two would be in rhythm, if not white-hot in the post-season. That way, as fans we wouldn't have anything to say other than, we got to see their best-possible game the last game of the season.
All of that is still very much a possibility. But, there's much to be learned prior to that. The BT conference race seems to be a chase for second place. Purdue and 'Sconsin are tiny in aOSU's rear view mirror...and I don't think there's enough help remaining in the conference for this race to be considered anything other than done. But the season's not lost. And I'm sure Matty's more worried about the problems at hand than the things he has no control over.
With four road games remaining, Purdue could win four, should win three, but (from what I've seen thus far) will probably win two. In that case they must go unbeaten in Mackey in order to have a chance to make noise in the tourney.
Purdue's computer ranking will probably be around 11 when the RPI comes out later today. I don't think a loss at Wisconsin is a bad thing in anybody's eyes. But I'm positive that the guys that play with Purdue on their chest feel like we do today- that game was winnable and should have been in the left column for our Boilers.