Back in '96 when the staff of BS roamed the halls of Cary Quad, ate Mad Mushroom Cheese Sticks without conscience at 1:00am, and watched their Boilers win the third-straight BT title, the world was different. BoiledSports.com was merely a twinkle in my and J's eyes, Gene Keady's scowl carried some weight, The Big Three were seven years old and Brian Cardinal and I both had hair on the top of our heads. Yes, a lot of living has occurred since Purdue last won a regular season title.
A big goal by Matty and company has been attained.
They made the long trip to Happy Valley and squared off against a scrappy Lions squad in front of a not-so-hostile crowd and came away with a close victory. PSU had been flirting with beating a good squad- they played aOSU closely for 38 minutes in the same building a week ago...then nearly beat MSU at the Breslin Center just days ago. I had a bad feeling about this game a few weeks ago, and didn't feel good about it coming into this one. I knew the National Champs wouldn't go down easily. And they didn't...But, I like what I'm seeing from the Boilers.
They looked flat-out awful in multiple facets of the game versus MSU as the forces of good struggled to rebound and shoot while only mustering 44 points. Versus the Takin-It-Easy-Hoosiers, they shot better, but still struggled rebounding the ball. But this afternoon, versus the second place team in the league in rebounding margin, Purdue won the rebounding battle. Atop that, they nearly shot 50%. The free throw shooting is still bothersome...but unlike so many parts of the game, a team can work on this and see dividends, so there is hope. But, leaving an extra 3-5 points on the floor can easily be the difference in a game versus an opportunist squad.
Smooge didn't play great offensively, but hit a lucky straight-on bank three pointer and a pair of free throws that pretty much won the game. Grant was colossal from behind 20 ft. 9in. and shot like he did a few years ago- a much higher percentage from farther away than inside the arc. JJ did what he simply must do for Purdue to win right now- scored 21, rebounded 10 and blocked 3 while staying out of foul trouble. On top of just the stats, he had, arguably, the nastiest dunk I've seen in a few years on a fast break in the second half. Plus, he cleaned the glass to a sparkling shine without any streaks or residue at key junctures of the contest. His pal Kelsey Barlow also had 6 rebounds...and a few put backs of his own. Like JJ, when he decides to do great things...he can. LewJack didn't do a lot on the scorer's sheet, but pushed the ball well and connected with JJ on a few tasty assistesses. Kramer had 4 steals and shot with confidence. The bench was shorter (3 deep), mainly because everyone, sans LewJack stayed out of serious foul trouble.
The good guys win, 64-60...improve to 26-4 and got to enjoy an impromptu BT Champs parade upon arrival back in West Lafayette as the students heeded Kramer's request to have everyone meet them back at the airport. Good win...good regular season...now, onto Indy.
Purdue will face the winner of IU and Northwestern on Friday at 6:30pm. Not that IU's scary, but I don't think it's ever good to face a rival just days after cleaning their clocks...so I'm rooting for NU- I've always liked this team when it's got revenge at the forefront of its collective conscious. If I remember the Mildcat faithful storming the court back in January, I bet the fellas do as well.
Just win, baby.
Today's losses by Kansas State and Syracuse don't have much effect on Purdue's seeding, in my opinion...but the next 7 days could yield a lot of changes in the top-3 seeds. My guess is that Purdue's nearly a lock for a 2 seed...but, knocking off MSU and aOSU would go a very long way in potentially earning the Boilers a #1 or maybe a #2 very close to home. Keep in mind, the braintrusts at EsPN have nothing to do with the seedings and pairings...thank God. Bracketology 101 is a good alternative source for perspective on the tourney before it happens, in case you're itching for more useless prognostication.
Dumbass of the night
Oh, there are so many jacks on TV...but the guy that annoys me over and over is the BTN's Tim Doyle. He made the dumbest statement he's made in a long time (and that's saying a lot) following the Purdue game...He said if the game had been 5-10 minutes longer, Penn State would have won. Hmmmm.
If the game would have been 5-10 minutes shorter, Purdue would have won by 10.
If donuts made me smarter, I'd be a brain surgeon by now...I'm sure of it.