It was a surreal night. J and I had great seats- we were just rows from the court. Before the game, we were close enough to talk to the Ostrich, Matty and co. as they came off the court after pre-game warm-ups...we also got to talk to a pair of stoners wearing matching Zubaz and Duke T-shirts. As the game started, our Boilers were flat offensively, but busting their collective ass on defense. Displaying the "vaunted" point-per-minute offense for most of the first half, and scratching and clawing their way to a very close, nip-and-tuck first half. But, J and I envied what many other Purdue fans in Reliant had- a bunch of fellow Boilers with which we could enjoy the game.
So, after sitting among poser Duke "fans" with no connection to the university and Baylor carry-overs who didn't like my demonstrative manner, we headed to the Purdue section across the court from the Purdue bench. We scanned the crowd for a few empties, but to no avail. But, Chris Kramer's Papa was kind-enough to welcome us into the family seats as CK3's Mom was away from the seats and Mr. Kramer himself was shooting a few photos, we got to know Chris' little brother a bit and watched a few minutes with the toughest family in all of the land.
It was pretty awesome...But the late second half wasn't as awesome.
Purdue's bugaboo of offensive ineptitude crept back into the game and the game began to slip a bit. But, as Duke's goon, Zoubek, stepped into and elbowed Chris Kramer during a pick on the top of the key, CK3 was knocked out cold, and it seemed, so was Purdue's tournament run.
EsPN didn't want to acknowledge it, and CBS (we're told) didn't show it, but we saw it. The toughest guy on the roster, the heartbeat of the team, was lying on his back on the floor of Reliant Stadium, and wasn't responding to his teammates trying to help him up off of the floor.
Just as Kramer was finally off of the court, a verbal skirmish broke out in our section. A supremely-douchey Dukie decided it'd be a good idea to taunt the Kramer family as Chris struggled to clear the cobwebs out of the attic.
But, Kramer got off of the mat, the team tried to reel in the game, but the damage was done. Purdue didn't recover and lost, 70-57.
The CK3 and KG era is over, sadly. And make no mistake, these two are the winningest class EVER at Purdue...and they are the foundation for what's coming. And in my opinion, it's another visit to Houston in '11.
From the new controlled-anger of D.J. Byrd, to the resolute focus of Smooge, to the depth at PF/C for the first time in Matty's tenure in God's country, to the return of the Ostrich and the reformation of The Big Three...there are plenty of reasons to believe in our Boilers. and while I'm let down by the way I felt at the end of tonight's game, I know that there's only one way to avoid this feeling. And I think Matty and comapany also understand that.
I'm already excited about the late-fall of '10.