Young Boiler team enjoys first legit win...and gets a trophy for winning one game
In Indianapolis on Saturday, Purdue got to play a good opponent in the Wooden Tradition. That said, this L'ville team isn't as good as their rank suggests...at least not at this point. When at full strength, this Cardinals team was and will be tough...but Purdue's pace wore them down. I'm extremely pleased with the victory as I have thought this was a must-win since the Mizzou loss.
Our Boilers had a chance to collapse as a large lead shrunk to two measly points...but the Boilers didn't fold this time, thanks in large part to Chris Kramer's tough play down the stretch. Kramer looked like himself which was and will continue to be important, but Keaton Grant was really strong once again. When he sets his feet behind the arc, he shoots very, very well. At times on Saturday, he reminded me a bit of Cuonzo a few years back. Plus, Marcus Green's defensive aggressiveness added a much-needed spark a few times.
I hope the Freshman see this game as a confidence-builder and a sign that they can actually finish close games strongly...because that attitude and perspective will be essential during the Big Ten conference schedule. But, I believe Louisville's lack of depth really wore them out during this game. The crowd was pretty good and seemed to be pretty even (at least on TV and the radio)...and in a surreal moment during a commercial break, I flipped the station and saw Kentucky playing a home game v. UAB on L'Ville's court. I think that'd be a lot like Purdue playing a game versus an opponent, that wasn't the Hoosiers at Assembly Hall.
Purdue plays a congested schedule during this Saturday-to-Saturday stretch as they play four games...thank goodness Louisville is the toughest opponent in the group because a stretch like this can be exhausting.
Shut Up fatman.
Those of you who know me know that I am growing increasingly less and less tolerant of ESPN's personalities...But one that I really have never cared for is Chris Berman. I just got a chance to watch the NFL Sunday wrap-up with he and Jackson and TWICE in the highlight he referenced and sang Boz Scaggs' tune "Lido". First off, that joke wasn't funny the first 100 times I heard it...but now he's working it into the show multiple times- Oh Joy! Berman stinks...and ESPN stinks for putting him in front of the camera once-a-year, let alone daily. Suck it, ESPN.
Great Hire..Pay Attention, Morgan!!!
Morgan Burke has made some pretty good hires while he's been the head man of Purdue's Athletic Department...But I hope he was watching the University of Michigan during the past few weeks. While I understand Purdue doesn't have the capital or leverage that UM does when it hires, I love the fact that the dragnet they put out for their next coach was large. They tried to find the best man for the job...and I think they got it. We've heard Coach Tiller tell us that the Big Ten's best teams have geared themselves to defend the spread offense...well, we'll get to see how prepared the Big Ten is as yet another form of the spread will be implemented by Rodriguez and the Wolverines in coming seasons. I don't know if Michigan will be great next season...but they will soon. That dude can coach.
Another reason I really like Rodriguez is because he has never liked Notre Dame...in fact, I'd say he flat-out dislikes UND because of his reaction to UND stealing WVU's bowl sport back in '02...I even bought a WVU hat because of my like for Rodriguez; and I've never disliked UM...so I'm happy that the Wolverines got a good guy. I'm sad that he'll be kicking Purdue's ass regularly, but it's a good hire none-the-less.
Oh What Fun...(NFL Notes)
-Cleveland & Buffalo played a game fitting for two teams in the snow belt in Decemberrrrrr as Tim's Browns snowshoed their way toward a playoff birth. Meanwhile Pittsburgh has fallen from one of the best teams in the NFL to a team that mighty not make the post-season. The Steelers are in trouble.
-Drew Brees, how I love thee. 26 of 30, 2 TDs...dude is the man.
-Gonzalez growing up. Anthony Gonzalez seems to be getting more and more comfortable with Peyton Manning and the Colts offense as he excelled again for Indy v. Oakland. As Harrison inches closer to retirement, it's good to know that the Colts are still going to be extremely strong at WR down the homestretch of Manning's career.
Rumor has it that the IU basketball players, Bassett & Crawford, who were suspended for unspecified violations were both guilty of the same illegal activity during on the same night. A couple sources are telling me that these two players, and possibly others, were caught smoking marijuana during their trip up to Chicago a few weeks ago for the Chicago Invitational. Sampson seems to want to space out their suspensions and not make public their transgressions...problem is, things always come out. I expect this story to become bigger, especially at the end of the NCAA's investigation of Coach Sampson...IU won't need it, but they'll have plenty of additional grounds for dismissal once that report comes to light.