On-the-Scene Take From Mugging in MSG

I wish I was writing about the team itself more and I'll try to do that, but the travesty of officiating in last night's loss is still fresh for me and still infuriating. Being only about ten rows from the slickster Jay Wright made it even worse.

I've had an epiphany in recent years around sports -- maybe because of the birth of my son, I don't know -- wherein I don't let things affect me as much as they used to. It also could have to do with getting older and wanting my heart to not explode. Details.

But this one is sticking with me because I am tired of this same shit happening to Purdue over and over. I also am less of a blame of the officials guy than even my co-editor-in-chief here is (not to say he blames them too much at all -- but he gets more irritated at them then I tend to)...and I think things that are fresh tend to feel more significant, of course, but I think this might well be the worst series of officiating I've ever seen. Definitely in person.

And let's get something straight here -- all of you beanheads who tell us via twitter and on here that, "Dur, make your free throws and this isn't an issue" or some variant of that...yes, we know that. We allllll get it. If you make all your free throws, it's not an issue. And if my aunt had balls she'd be my uncle.

Sports don't work that way. It's just one of those things people say after the game to fill talk radio time, press conference answers or to justify an outcome to yourself. Yes, if Purdue took advantage of all their opportunities, it's not an issue. But the same can be said for Nova. They shot a dull 24 of 64 from the field, for 37% -- if they shoot just a bit better, Purdue probably is not able to take over for that 8-10 minute stretch in the second half. Who knows?

My point is that yes, you obviously want to make your free throws, but games get to where they get to because of a variety of factors. Every game is different and they all have their own ebb and flow -- that's why we watch them. Not to show up and see free throws made, high five each other and go home. We want to see what happens... and what happened to the Boilers last night was nothing short of an embarrassment on the officials' part.

Painter is too much of a gentleman, but he should complain to the NCAA -- ask them to review the calls and the inconsistency and, perhaps most importantly, the egregious thuggery that Villanova was employing throughout the night. A hockey writer that I like on Twitter was covering the game (because, no hockey, why not?) and he really pissed me off with his ignorant rants about Purdue embarrassing themselves and choking it away. But he also throughout the game was tweeting about how he was going to have to watch to the end to make sure nobody was killed, as the two teams weren't even trying not to tackle one another.

It was definitely chippy and being in the arena and being close to the action, you see a lot more than the cameras show you, as most of you know. And I saw DJ Byrd get visibly pissed off several times, almost always resulting in him committing a foul, almost as though he just thought he'd do it to stop play and give him a chance to talk to an official. On one of his threes in the second half he was knocked hard to the floor and got up with his hands in the air, pointedly looking for a while at official Brian O'Connel, who was already busy chugging down the floor the other way, not even looking back at the action and unwilling to look Byrd in the eye. On the replay, it was confirmed that Byrd had serious contact made with him, confirming what was obvious during live action. Sometimes it's hard to see and we can all agree the officials have a tough job -- this was not one of those times.

72-66, 62 seconds to go

Speaking of the officials by name, get to know these guys:

Brian O'Connell 
Bert Smith
Bo Boroski (you can just call him BoBo)

We will remember you three clowns. I hope the Paint Crew remembers them, too, in the event that any of them venture to Mackey this year.

As for other observations....

Yes, I had the J Money Signature Cocktail (premium vodka, rocks) and after she filled it halfway, I asked for a full one since I'm a big boy. She told me that's technically a "double" and would cost me $22. Sweet. I do love New York.

Standing in line for my $22 cocktail, a very attractive young woman (who definitely appeared beyond college age, as college kids look like zygotes to me now) and I began talking, mainly because I took a dig at her wearing Oregon State attire. She told me she was "friends" with a player on the team -- "the only native American" -- number 11, Joe Burton. Then, right after we were all back at her seats, a cameraman agreed with my assessment and put her on the screen. Though with fewer than 7,000 peeps in the house, all of our odds increased of getting on the 'tron.

I met the President of the Purdue Alumni Club of NYC (I'm a member of NJ) and she wholly encouraged me to join the NYC since I work in the big city and, as she put it, "we're cooler anyway." I stopped to talk to her because she had on a Purdue-themed "I love New York" t-shirt, but with Purdue Pete instead of the heart. I have to have one and she said they'd be ordering more soon to sell. Thanks, Michelle! (I think. I had a double, remember.)

I started the night at Stout, a bar on 33rd across from the Garden. There was an impressive contingent of Boilermaker alums and we had our own bar area in the basement, complete with two 'tenders, several TVs, darts, etc. I met a few alums, including two from the class of '11. One, the gentlemen, asked if I knew his brothers and said he "asks older alums this" since they graduated a while. Thanks, dude. The other was a bubbly, sweet girl who was wearing an old-school looking Purdue basketball jersey with #22 on it. "Cuonzo Martin?" I asked. "No, Stephanie White," she replied, "She won a national title at Purdue back..." "Yes, I remember," I said. "I was there when they were burning things in the middle of the street in front of the Quad."

On the floor, I'm excited by this team. Seeing all these young players getting important minutes, seeing a center in AJ Hammons who could be what this program has been missing for a while (a true, talented big man) have promising ability even as a freshman...seeing guys like Ronnie Johnson look already polished.....seeing Lawson continue to look like the most athletic guy Purdue has had in a while...seeing Terone quickly and confidently growing into his role as the scorer...Anthony Johnson clearly looking more confident an integrated into this team... and speaking of the Johnson boys, the court vision was something else I kept noticing as I watched this game from the baseline seats. From there, you can see plays develop and sort of see what the PG is seeing as he comes up. Some of the passing really impressed me -- these guys already know each other and are showing flashes of excellence and impressive court vision that will only (hopefully) get better. They'll have to fight through adversity like last night's game, but with the coaching staff on them to continue getting better, this team has be practically giddy about the future. It is indeed bright for these guys.

It's back to the Garden later this afternoon for the consolation game versus the Oregon State Beavers (yes, I have all my drunken "Boilers Use Their Johnsons to Slap Around the Beavers" jokes all ready to go). I love seeing our boys in person, so it's something I will enjoy (me and the other 500 people who will be there for the first game), but as I said, last night's mess is still sticking with me. These guys deserved better -- whether you think they "deserved" to lose due to poor FT shooting or not, they fought hard and came back several times from 8-10 point deficits and looked like the better team during most of crunch time -- until it was taken away from them.
 

Boilers-Illini Predicto: The 95 Cent Edition

Painter's Pups Pasted in Overtime

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