Yesterday was a bad day...hell, let's be honest- the last two months or so have been pretty tough to be a Purdue fan.
But a lot has changed in 24 hours...for one thing, my perspective has been corrected a bit.
I detailed how angry I was while watching my Boilers lose last night. The reason the loss v. Richmond hurt so bad was because the people that I, as a Purdue fan, felt were rock-solid were shaky. JJ and Smooge didn't shoot well...that's lousy. But, they didn't seem to fight or get angry as they lost. That hurt to watch.
The night before, when JJ was pushed, he pushed back, he got angry and he put the opponent away. And Smooge, while almost always smooth on the court, he plays with a chip on his shoulder and a toughness that comes from facing mean competition in NW Indiana and South Chicago. But the chip on his shoulder seemed to have been knocked off and his silky-smooth game was flat-out rough versus Richmond.
While these two struggled, Matty seemed to have no answer. He wasn't confident enough in much of the bench to make the substitutions that we thought would save this team in gritty times. And, he seemed frazzled- with the officials and with his own team and the situation they found themselves in.
I've heard their conditioning being questioned...and I think it's fair to look at this. Everyone was fatigued. Perhaps it was the fact that they weren't battle tested by the lackluster competition in this early season, and the first real test was surprising. Regardless, the team and the coaches looked tired and Richmond looked hungry. Purdue was out-Purdue-d...Out-willed...out-hustled.
The neutral court in front of an empty crowd felt like a late night NCAA tournament game being played out West. And if you're as old as me, you remember Keady's teams losing those games in similar fashion- the wheels came off, the will wasn't there and our Boilers' season was over pre-maturely. That sting lasts. This one doesn't have to. This one can be built upon and learned from.
The rubble after the loss to the Spiders also reminds me a bit of the Wofford game 3 years ago. Lowly Wofford came into Mackey and shocked the Baby Boilers. In the game's wake, I didn't want to turn on the TV or get on the computer. But Painter later called that game one of the most-important of the season. Perhaps we witnessed a moment of similar gravity last night? Hope so.
I still believe that this team can defy the national media and local skeptics by creating havoc in the Big Ten race and ultimately making it to Houston. But, that won't happen unless they figure some things out first. Adversity reveals character...here's the first big opportunity for this team to show what it's made of.
A Little Momentum?
Our side discussions, on Twitter and in the comment box have revolved around how the Purdue basketball program needed a victory...off the court. In a decision that was as surprising as Yogi Ferrell heading to IU, Bryson Scott verballed to Purdue earlier today. It's not a huge deal as his arrival is still nearly three years away, and no letter of intent has been signed, but his comments should give Pollyannas surrounding Matty's program pause...the sky's not even close to dropping...and there's still hope for the program.
But, in the interest of being consistent, I'll not get too excited about this...but will say- Can't wait to see you in black and gold, Bryson. Signing day is a little under two years away.
Wise Move From Bloomington
I was hoping Fred Glass would be starry-eyed from the massive victory in West Lafayette yesterday...I was hoping he'd ignore IU's deplorable BT record during Lynch's time at the helm in Bloomington and decide to keep him around for another year. But he didn't.
IU's AD decided it was time to change direction, and he will now seek a replacement for the likable, but staggeringly-unsuccessful Bill Lynch. Good for Mr. Glass and IU. This decision says a couple things.
First, Glass doesn't want a crappy football team and understands that he needs to generate revenue by selling seats in Memorial Stadium. Second, he sees that beating a sub-.500 Purdue team wasn't that big of a deal...and the bigger picture can't be ignored.
He's right too. Sure, winning is better than not winning against your in-state rival. But, Glass doesn't want a sub-.500 record and a game in Indiana to be the end of the season for his football team. Hopefully, in this case, Purdue fans take note of Glass' respectful decision to change course when there's no progress.
I know everyone who visits this site is rooting for Hope and company to erase any doubt that they can be successful at Purdue. Moral victories are still losses...and positive talk after close losses doesn't suffice for winning. I'm already looking forward to Spring Football.
Our focus will shift to being mostly on basketball (of course) now that football season's over. But, we'll still take looks at what's on the horizon for the football team in '11. The quarterback position has tremendous potential to be an interesting battle in Spring/Fall. Weigh in by voting on the poll on the right side of the page.