Earning a New Chip on Their Shoulders
By now, you've heard that the B1G teams have been announced. Carsen Edwards was first team, Vincent Edwards was on the second team, Isaac Haas was third team while Mathias earned honorable mention and All-Defensive Team honors. Headed into this season, I would have thought that was a pretty nice haul of hardware for this starting five. After watching a season of play, I don't think that way.
While Purdue's starting five was littered throughout the four all-con teams, no Purdue player was the Player of the Year or Defensive Player of the Year...and Painter wasn't the Coach of the Year.
So Paint coached this bunch of good players, so the sum of their parts was at or near the top of the conference for the entire season. AND they were a three pointer behind the pre-season favorite to win the thing. Not good enough, coach...not good enough, Senior Class. But here's a pat on the head for the effort. B1G runners-up...some third team and honorable mentions...run along.
Sure, no one predicted Purdue to win the B1G title...doesn't matter. Beating prognostications only matters in aOSU's case, it seems.
Vincent Edwards is a national player of the year candidate...but can't make the starting five of the lowly B1G's All-con team. He definitely didn't play his best ball in the final stretch of the season...but a bout with the flu and a busted ankle had something to do with that.
Isaac Haas was unstoppable for much of the season. Many coaches, from Turgeon, to Holtmann to Beilein (among others) admitted he forced them to completely change game plans and was unstoppable. I hope those very coaches didn't vote for Bridges for first team. Go check his game-by-game stats; I did it a week ago. Bridges disappeared in games this season...in January and February when it mattered, no less. But that Purdue win must have gotten the job done. These Boilers are mighty, when it benefits a narrative, I guess. He is money though...at least that's what FBI investigations tell us.
Sure, Ethan Happ received his second-team honor as a consolation prize since those plucky Badgers tried so hard and fell a bit short this season, I guess. In seven more minutes per game of play, Happ averaged three more points and grabbed three more boards than Haas. Nice numbers, no doubt. Sure, most of those minutes were in garbage time when teams had pulled their starters as the Badgers got bludgeoned time and again...but oh well. They did knock Purdue out of the catbird's seat in the conference race.
Wagner, who was also deemed a better big man than Haas by both the coaches and media, didn't score as many points while playing four more minutes per game. And unlike Happ, he wasn't able to get the best of the Hokes Bluff, Alabama product. But like Happ, his team finished below our Boilers in the conference race (just a reminder).
Haas' usage, FG %, offensive efficiency and even blocks per game earned him more than he received when these post-season conference honors were released. But how did he fair on the eyeball test in most games? C'mon!
I might sound petty or angry...I'm probably both. These awards along with around $4.00 will get you a coffee at Starbucks. Perhaps I'm looking for something to be pissed about? Sure...I'll take the material at hand. FINALLY, Purdue can play the underdog role again...I actually LOVE this team when this team and this coach are in this position. Winning 19-straight games really cramped their normal style.
The great news is that this bunch of OK or pretty good Boilermakers (in the opinion of the coaches and media) have a new season in front of them...and with it, they might have a fresh, newly-installed chip on their shoulders.
If not, let me remind them- They're not the number one, or even number two seed in the conference tournament. Their measly three-game winning streak pales when compared to The Don Izzo's Spartans' current streak. And our once-mighty Boilers have been relegated to a predicted two or three seed in the Big Dance.
My brother often reminds me that Purdue disappoints Boiler fans, and members of the media in the tournament...AND that disrespect has actually been earned by this program. While long-lasting respect has never been earned in March by our Boilermakers (not since the early oughts, anyway). That is indeed the case. You might think the B1G conference honors and the NCAA tournament aren't connected...but when you look at where these Boilers landed on the post-season honors lists, you might quickly be reminded of the connection.
There's plenty left to play for...and clearly, gobs of respect yet to be earned. The question now is: Will these Boilers go get it?