Three Down, One To Go

I thought this four-game stretch that Purdue is 3/4 the way through was critical to help define the level of success our Boilers would enjoy this season. They're 3-0, during this run, and have now won six straight in conference and have elevated their BT record to a respectable 6-2...but it's not time to take anything for granted. Our Boilers will need to scratch and claw their way to each victory it earns as we get closer to the home stretch.

This Purdue team is beaten and battered-

Hummel's back is clearly in horrible shape...and anything less than a 5 day rest leaves him gimpy at best, and hobbled and grimacing at worst. Watching him play in person is actually quite difficult. He limps, grits his teeth, talks to himself about the pain and is wearing a large back brace that is not easy to spot on TV (but can be seen from behind the bench). He's undoubtedly tough, but I don't know if toughness is enough to get him through this season as his condition deteriorates. All that said, even at just a percentage of his normal effectiveness, he's still a difficult match up for Purdue's opponents.

Atop of Hummel's woes, LewJack is coming off of a concussion. And in my mind, there's really no player on Purdue's team who needs the time on the court more than Jackson. It's funny, he's got a polarizing effect on Purdue's fanbase. Some love him, some are infuriated by his mistakes so much so that they can't stand him. Regarless of which side you're on, my advice is be patient and let him learn his limitations and allow the game to slow down just a bit. He's going to be good and has already shown flashes of brilliance (followed by thuds of turnover disappointment). His Freshman year has been a repetitive two steps forward, one step backward journey, but I think progress is being made. That said, he needs time on the court as point guard play is imperative come tournament time.

As Lewis' head clears, Kramer heals from an ankle injury...then he re-admits himself into the Boiler infirmary following a nasty elbow from Michigan's Manny Harris. Please note, delusional UM fan, there was heavy contact between Harris' elbow and the bridge of Kramer's nose. While the TV camera angles didn't show it well, there was a lot of blood on the floor- we could see it from the upper level in Mackey...and I'm pretty sure it wasn't ketchup that Kramer keeps in his jersey in case the team gets french fries after the game. Early reports also indicate that Kramer on top of the laceration, has a broken nose.

Along with these three players, JJ and Grant both continue to battle the dreaded flu-like symptoms...Granted, it's that time of year, and everyone gets sick, but their ailments simply heap pressure upon those who remain healthy- Nemmy, Green and Smooge.
While none of the three shot particularly well from the field, all exerted their collective will today as they drew foul after foul and collected 11 free points from the free throw line. As Kramer was being worked on in the locker room, and Hummel limped around the floor, Moore decided to take it upon himself and slash UM's 1-3-1 that seemed drum tight in the first half. He added to his offense by stealing the ball five times, distributing four assists and grabbing three boards. Green, who is probably the most under-rated rebounder on the team had seven rebounds...and Nemmy grabbed four and had a pair of assists.

This is what makes Purdue tough- as players struggle with injuries, shooting woes or foul trouble, others pick up the slack...And it's going to take this type of team effort for Purdue to to stay near the top of the conference because we're simply not going to see a 100% healthy team again this season. But we will continue to see a mentally-stout squad that, while falling short of perfection in the win/loss column, hasn't lost a game yet due to lack effort or toughness.
View from 112
I love going back to my alma mater to watch Purdue play in person...but as much as I like the majority of Purdue's fanbase, there's a large segment that simply infuriates me. As Purdue struggled to heat up offensively in the first half, the crowd (outside of the Paint Crew, of course) ranged from catatonic to listless. I don't know what can/will be done, but some of the Paint Crew needs to be in the opposite corner just to liven up the other half of the crowd. I can't tell you how many times I got dirty looks from the old people around me just because I was cheering today.

That stinks...and you know what else stinks? The fact that Mackey Arena starts emptying out with about four or five minutes left during most contests as the lemmings rush for the exits. Traffic isn't that bad on basketball game days...and, in economic times like this, who can afford to simply throw away a large portion of their entry price by not watching the entire contest? Not me...I paid my money, I'm going to stay in the stands as long as possible...and if you're in Mackey in the near future, I'd suggest you punch any man leaving his seat prematurely squarely in their sugarcubes as to stop this unsettling trend. I'm not going to condone violence toward the ladies...even these that might deserve a little strong-arming.
The calm and quiet at Mackey that dominated much of the first half of the contest erupted into a vigorous lather as crappy BT officials decided to only call 10 total first half fouls on two teams that play pressure defense out to at least half court...This lax officiating, coupled with Purdue's aggressive defense led to Manny Harris having an awful shooting day. And as Kramer threw Harris further and further out of rhythm, Manny wanted to create some breathing room with his elbow. The following minutes saw head JackArse...errrr...official, Jim Burr allow UM's Beilein to physically turn him around as he demanded an answer he wanted to hear from the gray-haired, inconsistent referee. Instead of controlling the situation, Burr decided to let Michigan's coach paw him and berate him for a few minutes. Not long before, Matty got T'ed up for simply arguing...maybe he would have been better off had he decided to rough up the officiating crew just a smidgen.

That said, I'm very pleased Painter decided to chew on the officials about their refusal to blow their whistles in those closing moments of the first half. I hope we see a bit more of it.

Next up, our Boilers head to Columbus to play the Jeckyl & Hyde Buckeyes on Tuesday.

Coaches Versus Fashion
To raise awareness for the Coaches Versus Cancer foundation, coaches across the nation donned athletic shoes en lieu of their wing tips...Matt Painter decided he'd get a bit more casual with the rest of his dress as well. And while Painter looked less-than-suave, the worst-dressed coach on the day had to have been the forehead. As Jerry Seinfeld used to say, wearing sweatpants sends the message to the world that you've given up...I'm just saying.

May I present for your enjoyment: Bruce Springstein's Testicles

BS All The Time!