No excuses, Xavier earned the victory this evening. Purdue took the lead with around 5:00 left, but the experienced Musketeers struck right back and didn't look back. While I'm positive Matt(y) Painter simply hates losing to end the season, I'm also sure that in a few weeks, he'll be ready to look forward to the extremely bright future for the program he's building. Many, myself included, always point to experience as an important element that helps teams find success in the NCAA tourney...Many of these Boilers got to get their first valuable experience this season, next season should be another step forward.
Tarrance Crump truly left the best for last and acted as if he might never play basketball again. I've been critical of Crump's poor finishing ability all season, but in his final two games, he finished strong and used his quickness to help the offense. He also played pretty solid defense.
Calasan showed some pretty good moves in the low post and never stopped looking for the three during the tourney...he even hit a few. It is imperative that he becomes more of a force with his back to the basket next season. Also, his defensive effort needs to become more consistent as the Big Ten won't get smaller in '09.
Marcus Green hit a few big shots and seemed to play well during the two games in DC. Green has a knack of coming up with rebounds even when matched up with larger players. He seems to know his role and seemed comfortable within it this season. He's they type of guy that might hit a big shot or two and come up with a key rebound next year down the stretch...The role player that all great teams have.
Keaton Grant's tendonitis clearly bothered him in the Big Ten tournament and NCAA tourney. But, his defense was still amazing and really helped the offense go. Plus, if he can improve this off-season half as much as he did last off-season, he will be all Big Ten in '09. His shooting range as well as his ability to finish a drive was awesome to watch this season.
Chris Kramer's injuries also nagged him and might have held him back a bit during the last 7-10 games of the season. That said, he won't ever admit injury as an excuse, nor did he let the injury stop him from his Kamikaze style of play. Outside of Hummel I didn't find anyone more important to Purdue this season. I hope that he can either have a surgery that can remedy his woes or simply rest his body to the point that he doesn't have to play in pain in '09. Regardless, if he never scores another offensive point at Purdue, he will be a team MVP candidate the next two seasons.
Most of the season, Robbie Hummel hit key buckets when they were most-needed...During the NCAA tourney, the Ostrich simply was too patient and didn't try to exert his will on offense nearly enough. I hope that is something he learns to do as his career moves forward. His defense and rebounding ability both give Purdue fans reasons to believe he might be one of the greats by the time he leaves West Lafayette.
Moore is the scorer that I thought he'd be, but especially during the NCAA tourney, he made Freshman mistakes. I'm excited because he looks for his shot unlike most of this Purdue team...Plus, he has the talent to go along with that mentality. I think Moore's defensive effort is a bit inconsistent. That said, he's still a solid defender that has been able to create offensive opportunity from defensive stops. The addition of Lewis Jackson will aid Moore more than anybody else on the team.
Scott Martin seemed to get his confidence back late in the season and began willing himself into the offense down the stretch. While his defense isn't where it might be in a season, I'm pretty sure a year in the weight room will help him play and look like a Big Ten forward next season on both defense and offense.
JJ's potential probably intrigues and excites me as much as anybody's on the team. He's simply gotten better as the season went along. He began showing he has potential to compete in the blocks as the season came to a close. With another 10-15 pounds, he will be the guy that many Purdue fans think this team is missing. There might not be a need to look to a potential recruit for a dominant big man; he could be wearing the black and gold #25 jersey right now.
As a fan, I want to express how enjoyable this team has been to watch during the last five plus months. Even during loses, effort was never the problem and unlike some of the teams from a few years ago, they didn't seem to make repetitive, stupid mistakes. They exceeded everybody's expectations during the regular season. And while the Big Ten tourney performance was disappointing, they made at least a bit of noise as well as played to their seed in the NCAA tournament. As the season hit the midway point, I felt like I did back in college about my Boilers...I simply couldn't wait to see what they'd do next. Now, with the season over, I'm in the same position, but wait is much too long, especially for a guy who has little patience. This season was fun...thoughts of next season make me giddy.