Same Old Song and Dance

Once you've made the inevitable jump from the classroom to the outside world, few things change as dramatically as finals week. There's nothing quite like the first time December rolls around (or May, for you crazy December grads), and you don't realize the lack of impending dread and panic until the tenth time one of your college friends posts something about Adderall on your timeline. (Of course, for some of us, that experience came prior to the invention of such things as timelines and Adderall, but just roll with it, k?)

Because that lack of dread and panic is usually accompanied by a dearth of football and basketball, I've decided that now is the perfect time to wrap up the various posts that have been rattling around in my head for a while ... but first, I wanted to give a shout-out to Dave Shondell's volleyball team for dispatching Central Arkansas and Missouri on the Tigers' home court in the first two rounds of the NCAA tournament last weekend. (Question: how many of you knew that Central Arkansas is the Sugar Bears? No you didn't.)

Hammer and Rails has a wrapup, but for those of you who missed it, Missouri was unbeaten entering this match, and hadn't even gone to a fifth set this season; they'd only lost 8 sets, period, while 8 of Purdue's 32 previous matches had gone to five sets. It was pretty obvious on the tiny window that provides (BTN2GO is actually pretty awesome by comparison) that one of these teams had played tougher competition and was very experienced in these situations (hint: Purdue). With the exception of a run in the second set, the Boilers led wire-to-wire, recording their fifth NCAA road win in six tries under Shondell. (The lone exception was their 2010 Elite Eight loss to Texas, in which an injury to All-American Jaclyn Hurt could well have cost Purdue its first Final Four appearance.)

The Boilers will be making their fourth consecutive Sweet 16 appearance and seventh overall under Shondell, both marks that no other Purdue coach can match. Surprisingly, for all the success that Keady's teams had in the first round, the best he could do was three Sweet 16s in a row. (Of course, a good bit of that was caused by road games, and unlike in women's tournaments, some of those games came when Purdue was the higher-seeded team.)

Purdue Sweet 16 appearances by coach
Coach Appearances
Dave Shondell, volleyball 7 (2005, 2006, 2008, 2010-13)
Gene Keady, men's basketball 5 (1988, 1994, 1998-2000)
Carol Dewey, volleyball 5 (1981-83, 1985, 1987)
Lin Dunn, women's basketball 4 (1990, 1992, 1994, 1995)
Kristy Curry, women's basketball 4 (2001, 2003-04, 2006)
Matt Painter, men's basketball 2 (2009-10)
Carolyn Peck, women's basketball 2 (1998-99)
Sharon Versyp, women's basketball 2 (2007, 2009)

NCAA championship in bold - when you don't have many, you call attention to every one

Val Nichol vs. UAB in 2012

Nichol telling UABMissouri to get off her court
photo by Purdue Exponent

In all of EsPN's excitement about OMG AUBURN, one thing they failed to mention was that on the volleyball court, the ESS EEE CEE and Big Ten are not even close to equals. (Although the main site didn't mention it, espnw did call out the Boilers as a potential upset pick, and Mechelle Voepel had a nice writeup on Purdue and the Big Ten in general.) While both conferences placed eight teams in the field of 64, all eight SEC teams lost in the first or second round, while only one Big Ten team fell - Michigan lost in five sets to LSU in a first-round match in Seattle. The only other meetings between Big Ten and SEC schools came on SEC hardwood, and Michigan State provided the other upset win, knocking out Kentucky and preventing them from advancing to a regional on their home court. 

Speaking of home court, the Boilers will be making their seventh NCAA appearance in hostile territory as they face Illinois in Champaign this Friday at 7 PM. The Illini and Kentucky host Big Ten parties, as both regionals feature three Big Ten teams (Wisconsin and FSU join the Good Gals and Illinois; Michigan State and Penn State square off in Lexington before Minnesota faces Stanford), with Nebraska hosting a regional as well. The match will be shown on ESPN3, which probably means that nobody will get to see it live.

Here's hoping that Val Nichol, Carly Cramer, and the rest of the Boilers can provide victorious bookends for a men's basketball win over Butler this weekend. (The volleyball Final Four this year will be hosted by Washington. Road trip to Seattle? In December, uh ... maybe not.)

Boilers Coaching Staff Staying The Course

Boilers Coaching Staff Staying The Course

Video Breakdown: Victorious against BC & EMU

Video Breakdown: Victorious against BC & EMU