...About last night...
At the end of regulation...then at the end of one overtime, Northwestern hadn't had the lead. 45 minutes of basketball, and NU hadn't been able to pull ahead even as they had been able to get the game to a tie over and over.
NU had three of their biggest players foul out and had another forward with 4 fouls and cramping so severe, yet Purdue didn't capitalize...and a former multi-year Big Ten COY at the helm couldn't pull enough strings to defeat a first-year coach, with all of these adverse conditions plus a notably-out manned roster.
Purdue is what their record says they are: Decidedly mediocre.
Northwestern's coaching staff has figured something out in the last few games that I dreamt Purdue's coaches could find- a trick...a scheme...a motivational tool...a rotational change that would be a difference-maker.
NU's coaches made a personnel change and defensive shift that has made them suddenly-tough. Purdue, conversely simply is not tough anymore.
That pains me to say...but the grittiness that was emblematic of Purdue basketball for the past 30 years is nowhere to be found...and it's been gone for a few seasons now. Purdue is perpetually young, painfully green and pillowy soft. The guys who I'd like to see lead the team, simply because of their demeanor and potential aren't leaders (yet)...the guys who are leading the team don't seem to have the right skills or disposition to push this team to be greater than the individual parts...so the program is mired in a quandary.
Computers have forecasted Purdue as a 16-17 win team for a while now...and a few glimmers have made me think that 19 or 20 wins were possible. But as the season progresses, it's becoming increasingly clear that the turning point or the galvanizing moment isn't coming. Granted, there is still a ton of basketball left to be played, and the shrinking possibility exists, but Purdue's record; Purdue's bad losses and fact that they don't have many quality wins tells the true story.
People like me love to search for a needle in the haystack...or a reason for why everything is happening the way it is, but it really doesn't matter why. The coaches and the players aren't a cohesive unit that are better as a group than they are separately. In fact, they seem to be just a bunch of separate players in matching clothing. So much of what Purdue seems to need to become better takes time...so as fans, we continue our wait.
Mental toughness, physical toughness, chemistry, low basketball IQ, inconsistent shooting, spotty leadership and lackluster coaching. Pick one...pick them all, nothing changes what we're seeing. Purdue is just not a very good basketball team right now.