The Boilers rolled in their opening round game against St. Peter's, as we all knew they would. It's rare that Boilermaker fans get confident going into a tourney game, but this was one where the general feel was pretty damn positive.
I spoke to B-dowd before the game and I said my theory on Purdue's run was that tonight's game would be the most "fun" one for all of us as fans, while all remaining games from this point forward would be stressful.
It turned out to be exactly that way. During the week, I said on the podcast that Purdue was going to win big and needed to win big to get confidence back and to assert themselves, quite frankly. Winning by 22 points doesn't really allow the media to minimize your potential, for example, and that's a good thing. We like to see the Boilers respected.
Nevertheless, every time St. Peter's made a basket, the D-level broadcasting crew on TNT would try to suggest the Peacocks were "making a run." Never mind that no such run really ever occurred.
As for the game itself, sure, there are some things to discuss.
What I liked:
-- JJ grabbing 16 boards. Sure, SPC was small and not a good rebounding group, but Johnson simply snatched quite a few of those away from two or three 'cocks at a time.
-- Lewis Jackson's game. Four of five from the floor, four of five from the line, 12 points, 5 rebounds, 3 assists and 2 steals. His game was barely noted by the broadcasting team, who was too busy showing really uncomfortable hugs and caressing by SPC's coach and badass, 5-point-scorer Nick Leon. However, Eammon Brennan caught up with Lew after the win. Lew was on his game tonight and it was good to see, especially in light of Barlow's absence.
--On that note, I also liked Terone tonight. TJ looked very comfortable at the point tonight and it was actually terrific to see. He looked more comfortable, to me, than he's looked most of the season... and that's not to say he hasn't looked good this year. I'm just saying it's amazing what playing your natural position can do for a guy. Terone had eight points (including two treys), four dimes and two steals.
--Holding a team to 43 points. Kind of awesome.
What I didn't like:
--Purdue turning the ball over 16 timess, more than SPC....including seven by Smooge alone. Wow. I don't know if St. Peter's defense is that good or if Purdue had a sloppy night, or a little of both. Many times, things like this do indeed fall somewhere in the middle. Remember, the Peacocks were ranked very high defensively in college basketball and I guess it was at least partially deserved. It didn't stop a 22 point beatdown, but it did cause Purdue to turn the ball over a lot and to only score 65 points.
--Sloppyness. Some of it was SPC D, as mentioned, but there were other things that had nothing to do with the opposition. Sloppy passes, taking eyes off the ball, fumbling rebounds, etc. Yes, you can get away with this stuff now but we all know you need to buckle down. I'm inclined to not be real worried about any of this because it was the first game, plus it was a team Purdue was up big on most of the night. You do tend to lose your focus a bit when you're up 25, no matter how much you try not to.
-- Ryne Smith going 0-5 from the floor. Sure, he is coming off a concussion and, sure, a St. Peter's player braced himself on the back of Ryne's neck in order to block Smith and knock him to the floor...but hey, what does that matter? Seriously, though, we're big fans and I hope Ryne is okay and that he gets back on track. We need you, Ryno.
As I write this, VCU is taking the naughty paddle to Georgetown's collective hineys, so it looks like our Boilers will face the 11-seed VCU Rams, also of black and gold lineage. Game will be Sunday, time as yet to be determined.
One stop down, three to go until reaching our final destination of Houston. The ride begins to pick up speed now, so please hang on.