Business took me to the Northeast a few days ago, and as a result, I haven't been able to post. Now, J is on one of his many junkets, so he isn't available to post. We'll back to full strength in the very near future. But, as I have before, let me suggest something again, if you feel like you can't get enough BS- follow us on Twitter and FB- the links, as always, are in the margins. And even when on the road due to work or pleasure, we try to post content at those two places.
Over four years ago, we started this site because we thought it'd be good to use some of our energy about Purdue Sports in a productive manner instead of sending out mass e-mails to our friends and families at the top of each week. When the site began, Lil' Boilerdowd was under a year old...and the infant Boilerdowd wasn't the only little one one the BS staff's collective mind.
I did a search, and found the first time we used the term Baby Boilers was in November of 2007. Painter's team looked thin and needed a ton of help, so JJ, The Ostrich, Smooge and another freshman were forced into significant minutes right away...and they answered the bell. Sure, growing pains like losing to Wofford at Mackey stung, but it was clear by mid-season how special this group of three really was.
Moore wore all-black shoes and black socks while the rest of the team wore white Nikes with a black swoosh. He was poised and skilled, but needed some work on defense. He calmly handled hostile crowds and pressure situations...almost as if he's a machine.
Hummel looked just old enough to drive, could do a lot well, wasn't afraid to shoot, but got in a ton of foul trouble, especially when battling on the glass. But, his combo of length, shooting ability and hustle made him an impossible match-up.
Johnson was lanky and long, very raw, but could leap as well as any big man I had seen in W. La La. And from the very beginning, he seemingly loved getting pushed around in the tunnel by his teammates like a ragdoll.
But these three Baby Boilers quickly lost the name as they earned all-conference honors and the national press began to notice them. Big shots and big wins became something that Purdue fans came to expect from this core group...and these Baby Boilers were simply Badass.
That hasn't changed. This core of three has fought through injuries and adversity and seems to love defying popular opinion or prognostication. Whether the media was picking against this team in an early NCAA tourney game to lose to a media darling or they were picked to finish below Izzo, Ryan and Matta's clubs, this team loves defying the odds...and plays with a chip on their collective shoulder.
Sure, these guys can score...but defense has been their calling card. Skinny JJ turned into one of, if not the premier shot blocker in the nation. Laid back Smooge became an on-ball defender who frustrates some of the best offensive players in the league, game-in, game-out. They've bought into Matty's persona...and this class reflects him as well as he reflects them. After Painter struggled through some players that didn't really have his identity, the class of '07 represented a turning point for him as a recruiter...and a greater pivot for the program.
This morning, I caught up on some of the great videos posted by the Paint Crew and others on Youtube that honor this class. These make me nostalgic as I remember all the games that I watched in person, or where I was when they beat Wisconsin back in '08 all the way up to MSU in '11. It's tough for an emotional person like myself not to get a lump in his throat as you think about how much fun this run has been...but I'm quickly tempered when I hear Painter say this, "We're sad to see them go...But we still have a lot of basketball to play."
And just like these players believe in Painter's defensive philosophy...they believe they're not done...not even close- and neither should you and I. So let me take (and distribute) some advice that I read on Twitter and elsewhere: Let's hold on to the rest of our emotion until the season's over...in Houston.
Sure, the ice-cold on-court assassin, E'Twaun Moore couldn't help but be moved to tears by the outpouring of appreciation by the uproarious 14,123 in attendance on Tuesday night...but he gathered himself pretty quickly to finish the job at hand...he knew there was business he had to attend to.
There will be plenty of time to reminisce in April.
One last thing
I love this class because they put Purdue back into the elite of the Big Ten and brought the Boilers back to the national consciousness as a basketball program. But what I really love about this group, this team, is that they're leaving an amazing legacy. The guys that are coming in to campus in their wake are the next piece of puzzle and have a great model to follow...They've won more games than any class in the history of the program...and they've done it with class and were true student athletes. But the best news might be that the future is stunningly-bright, even after these two icons, 25 & 33, ride off into the sunset.