How Bad Do They Want It?

Purdue's 2009-2010 basketball season launches this evening. This season marks thirty years since the last time Purdue was in the Final Four, something many IU fans would throw in our faces if they could count to thirty.

There's not much else to say. You've seen previews everywhere. We've linked to many of them. We've contributed to some of them. And at this point, like in any highly anticipated season, it's all talked out. It's time to hit the floor and see how badly they want it. Tonight's opponent, Cal State Northridge, is kind of immaterial. Not that we shouldn't respect them, but the season is about so much more than that.

It's no longer a hope to get through the non-conference with a respectable record. It's no longer hoping for an above-.500 record in the Big Ten. It's no longer about hoping to make the NCAA tourney. Or about hoping for better than a middling seed. No, ladies and gents, this year it's about so much more.

We often try to keep our expectations tempered around here. We try to be realistic, which is just another way to say we try not to get our hopes and dreams crushed. Maybe it was Kyle Orton's fumble or Duke not letting Gene Keady get to the Final Four. I don't know. But somewhere along the way, talking about the Final Four became something off in dreamland... far away, and viewed as unreachable.

That is no longer the case. Sure, there are many teams that could take Purdue down. But these are the guys we're heading into the battle with and I know that I am pretty happy with the heart of this crew and their leader.

Last year, we thought right away that the preseason top ten talk was a bit premature. This team was a year away, we thought. Well, that "year away" is here now. And it's impossible not to be amped.

The future is bright, as we've discussed. Matt Painter is building a program and has the potential to build it higher in his first ten years on the job that the godfather, Coach Keady, did in nearly three times that. And so one of the best parts of this season coming up is that it's not an all-or-nothing kind of year. Yes, we want big things. No, the program doesn't take a step back if those big things aren't accomplished. That's good news. That's progress. That's how you build a perennial powerhouse.

So get ready for a fun ride. We're going to be freaked at times, when they suffer one of their weird, stinker losses. And we're going to be flying high at times, when they make us proud. Overall, though, this season has the potential to be one of the best experiences many of us have had as Boilermakers. Enjoy every minute of it.


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