Can't Give Up on These Two

At the beginning of their time at Purdue, two members of this year's Senior class were probably given a better chance for success because of two ACLs that tore before they arrived in God's country. David Teague and Carl Landry were both held out in '05-'06 because of knee injuries...and they both came back strong in the following year. That fall was the first semester on campus for KG and CK3.

Purdue had been on the decline for a few seasons- the twilight of Keady's tenure at Purdue left a court named after him and a few seasons that almost-everyone wanted to forget. And his successor had little-to-no success in '05/'06 as he bandaged the line-up with walk-ons, transfers and players that really didn't fit the Purdue mold. But the foundation of Matty's philosophy is well-embodied in Grant and Kramer.

Both were 3-star athletes, according to Rivals. Grant came to West Lafayette via Bridgton Academy Prep in Maine. He was offered by a slew of SEC programs who knew him from his HS career in Florida, as well as a team he'd later run into in the state of Washington, UW...but decided to come play for Matty. Kramer was known in the AAU ranks for his athleticism and ability to defend and break people down off the dribble. He was also known for his exploits on the football field as he passed for over 1,300 yards and ran for around 1,000.

They both played a ton as Freshman...honestly, they had to. But they answered the bell. Both ended their Frosh seasons with some noteworthy moments offensively...but, probably most-important to their coach, they both were in the top-5 all time for steals as Freshman- Kramer first, Grant, fifth.

That first year, Grant and Kramer both played a lot of point guard, played a few more minutes than might have been ideal and physically beat on themselves not backing down to the upper classmen they defended night-in, night-out. Along with Teague and Landry, they led Purdue to the NCAA tournament...where they beat the favored #8 seed Arizona Wildcats. The game is probably best-remembered for Kramer's shot from his knees. Purdue lost the next round to the later-crowned National Champ Florida Gators.

The next year, Kramer and Grant's hard-nosed, never-say die attitude taught the Baby Boilers what would be expected of them by their coach. Keaton Grant grew into one of the BT's best three-point shooters and the team's MVP. Kramer became the league's most-hated player (outside of West Lafayette, of course). Purdue's record improved to 24-8, and earned the Boilers the 6 seed. They were once again playing a team that the media was in love with, Baylor. Many thought Purdue couldn't keep up with Baylor's fast pace and size...They did, of course...the runnin' Boilers won 90-79. The next round, Purdue fell to the FF-bound Xavier Muskies.

In '08/'09, Expectations were high for the now-maturing Boilers. Purdue's identity as a defensively-minded team was well in place. But, in the off-season KG and Kramer both had surgery to help get the hobbled veterans back up to speed. Kramer was at 100% at the beginning of that season...but Grant wasn't. Gone was his explosiveness and along with that, the lack of reps in the off-season seemed to have adversely-affected his long-range jumper. Purdue battled during this season...Battled through Hummel's back injury, Kramer's ankle injury, and later broken nose, KG's recovery, and a flu that seemed to go around the team twice. But at the end of the season, everything kind of came together as the Boilers won the BTT title and earned a 5 seed. The first round, they beat Northern Iowa. But the next round, once-again, no one thought they could win as they were just three hours away from UW in Portland, OR (thanks committee). But, tough defense and a general angry demeanor fueled Purdue to victory. The next round, they lost to UConn...who went to the FF.

This season started off much-better than '08/'09. Everything was clicking. Grant's explosiveness had returned, Kramer swam Purdue to victory in the US Virgin Islands and the Boilers started off strong. After a hiccup in the mid-season, Purdue found its rhythm once-again and looked to be heading toward big things in the late season...and then, another ACL injury to one of The Big Three rocked the Boilers. In this injury, it seems harder to find the silver lining than the previous two that changed the trajectory of Grant and Kramer's collective college basketball career. And since then, Purdue has been all-but left for dead. But, Purdue did enough to win a share of the BT regular season title.

I think the easiest thing to do right now for many Purdue fans is begin looking toward the future. Lots of talent should be returning and a stacked recruiting class is on its way it...BUT, KG and Kramer are on their way out. Their importance to this team shouldn't be discounted. From clutch three-point shooting by Grant throughout the last four seasons to Kramer's uncanny knack to find a way to put himself in harm's way, these guys deserve a much better sendoff than what we saw Saturday night...We know it...and so do they.

Now, Purdue is once-again the underdog heading into the dance. Everyone points to Siena's tournament record, their athleticism and Purdue's rebounding woes as some of the reasons a victory by Siena wouldn't even be considered an upset.

Purdue's been pretty inconsistent in its offensive production of late, even before the Minny game...and looks like a team that is still trying to figure out its identity in the wake of Hummel's injury. This early spring isn't going at all like most Purdue fans thought it'd be going at this point, no doubt about that. And now, a season-long top-5 team who was staring at a possible 1 seed looks like it's now a long shot just to get out of the first round of the NCAA tourney.

So, if you need it, I'll give you two good reasons this team is still dangerous...and why you simply cannot give up on the Boilers.

Fighting Forces Greater than Themselves

Everybody Into The Pool!