Many, dare I say most Purdue fans supported Matty coming into this season. Sure, a few of the Boiler faithful weren't behind Purdue's vet coach because of what transpired last season...But a ton of people are jumping ship now.
If you've watched the good guys play recently, you know the problems that are getting worse as the season progresses. Check that, what might be happening is that everyone else in the conference seems to be getting better as Purdue stands pat...but it feels like a massive amount of regression in many statistical categories. But maybe more alarming that the measurables are the immeasurables. The biggest stat is more bothersome than anything else- Purdue has now lost four straight games, and very few of the remaining half of the B1G schedule look like they'll end up in the left hand column for Painter's team.
Go on Twitter, go on a message board and just observe- Listen to our fanbase as they wonder how Purdue will make the NIT...listen to the growing angst toward the basketball team and the athletic department at large. Winning a few games in the coming weeks would solve a few of our problems as a disjointed fanbase, but I'm not sure if I can remember a sustained time in which being a Purdue fan was this difficult.
You're like me- you're not going anywhere...you probably don't have a fallback team and can't help but watch this trainwreck. Most of your sweatshirts and t-shirts have something to do with Purdue...your kids are brainwashed to love Purdue. So you're probably asking, "What the hell is happening?"
Many Purdue fans are panhandling for an NIT birth...Really? For this program the NIT should be regarded as a bad season, not an aspiration. Purdue seems to be staring another CBI invitation in the face (or worse). I'll go ahead and say this now while there are still many ways this season could go: Burke needs to promise the fans that he won't accept another CBI invite; in any way.
This, and the greater program, gained nothing from last season's entry into that tournament. And, I'd bet the graduating Seniors last season probably didn't think it was something that they even wanted to play in. The same feeling will prevail this season for Carroll, Johnson, Peck and Carter if that's their lot in a month and one-half.
In hindsight, it's pretty easy to see that the CBI was no stepping stone, but a sinking, slippery log...not unlike what our Boilers have dropped in the water the last four games.
Alright, enough with the bad similes and metaphors...back to bad basketball.
Purdue is disjointed right now. What looked like a team with little cohesiveness now seems to be a group with none. And this problem starts at the top.
Every Purdue fan is entitled to think however they'd like about this season- I'm not someone to question another alums fanhood because they are completely supportive of Painter or are doubtful that he can still push the right buttons. Within the current BS staff we seem to have a pretty steep disagreement about what is acceptable and what is not. I can only speak of my own perspective now, but I'll tell you what I'd like to see if Purdue doesn't make the NIT.
In this scenario, Purdue will have only won TWO of their final ten contests (including the B1G tournament). That would be a record of 15-16. A second-straight sub-.500 season. If this happens, Burke needs to decline the CBI's advances as to not force fans to feel obligated to buy tickets for that tournament again. Then, the next day, he might want to reassure fans, ticket holders and boosters that anything less than an NCAA tournament in 2015 will force him to change directions.
In an era in which the top 7 or 8 of the B1G generally make the tournament, Purdue has finished 6th, 7th and this season might finish 10th or lower. Purdue will surely miss the NCAA tournament for the second-straight season (barring a miracle) and will be sub-.500 for the second straight season, both overall AND in conference.
Is this season written off? No...but, with a minimum of 10 games remaining, it's damned close. Winning a few games, especially a suddenly-improbably homecourt victory over transitioning IU, would help everyone's outlook on the program as we get closer to Spring.
A divided fanbase is becoming increasingly-unified in it's mantra that the results we've been watching are unacceptable and that the program is not going the right direction. Sadly, those who prematurely asked for Painter to be fired last season are looking like sages. But in actuality, that sentiment was beyond-rash based on what we knew less than one year ago. If you were one of those people, I hope you're not reveling in what you're witnessing...because none of what's happening right now is good for Purdue's basketball program, the larger athletic department or even the university. Sadly, this era feels nothing like growing pains for the program, but instead feels like serious, if not terminal illness.