Monday, November 29, 2010

One day later

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'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 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.

Looking Ahead
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.


Jumpndunk42 said...

I ran into JJ at walmart yesterday, he was his quiet self, filling his cart with Campbell's chunky soup. As soon as he made it through the line, ppl started to swarm him for autographs and handshakes. Regardless, i think we all (including the team) knew it wad a bad night and now we must move on. Remember how our big ten season started last year right?

BoilerPaulie said...

It is still a little surreal that we lost to Richmond on Saturday, even though I was there. I do hope that they play with a chip on their shoulder the rest of the season though, because if they didn't feel like they have anything to prove before, they had better feel it now.

It's a little irrelevant by now, but it's always been my philosophy that the right to criticize crowd sizes is reserved for those who are in attendance. That being said, I would respectfully issue a "shut your big fat mouth" to all those who have griped about the small crowd at the Sears Centre Arena, unless you were there. And the same goes for any other game. It's okay to comment objectively on it, but don't complain about it unless you did your part.

As far as relativity goes, Purdue fans were probably about 85-90% of the crowd, both days. Richmond did a dang good job keeping them out of the picture, but Purdue did a better job killing the crowd. Every time we got loud and did everything we could to make noise and cheer for them, someone would not only kill the momentum, but they would just do something stupid. It was very frustrating. These were not the Boilers we are used to watching. John Hart was the only one that I felt played well at all on Saturday.

Anyway, my point is, we still had at least a thousand fans there by my estimation, and most of the players' families were there that I could tell (which is what should really matter most to the players at this time of year), so they had comparable support to other thanksgiving-week tournaments they've been in, even though it was in Chicago. I would even argue that they probably had more support at those games than they did in Maui in 2006 or the Paradise Jam last year.

It was still disappointing, don't get me wrong. But it was the two days after Thanksgiving. Not everyone's families revolve their holiday schedules around Purdue athletics like mine.

Wishful thinking: maybe the rest of the Purdue faithful had already made plans to follow the women's team to Cancun before Drey Mingo contracted meningitis, and got stuck going and enjoying the beach last week instead of watching the games in Chicago?

For the record, I lost my voice both nights yelling at the refs. I dare say I did my part. I will admit I thought we were going to be in better shape when the awful official from our game against Austin Peay did the Richmond/Wright State game before ours. So I thought we were home free. I had no idea the ones doing our games (same crew both nights) would be twice as bad.

BoilerPaulie said...

If it makes anyone feel better, the food at Sears Centre Arena was atrocious. The deep-dish pizza was lukewarm (at best), the hamburgers were soggy, and the bottled water cost twice as much as the hot chocolate for good reason. Oh, and the only parking option within a mile was across the street for $10.

So compound all of that with two nights of ugly basketball and you really didn't miss much.

Edward said...

as boilerdowd predicted, ESPN wasted no time in writing an article on Purdue's offensive struggles...we were the headlines on the BB home page for some time...there is no doubt we will see some games like this the rest of the way, but I like this team...just makes me sick that the national media got their gift so early...

Adam said...

Honestly, this IU fan feels a little like Cartman at the end of this video:

"Mmmm, yummy! Yes! Let me taste your tears of unfathomable sadness!"

Anonymous said...

We need a floor leader; JJ and Smooge are great players but aren't true leaders. Kramer played that role the past few seasons, not sure who can step into that this year? I think John Hart should play more minutes and see if his point production translates over a longer period. It may not, but worth finding out.

John M said...

I agree with your take on the IU coaching decision. One thing that may distinguish it from Purdue's situation with Hope, however, is that Glass didn't hire Lynch, so for him to fire Lynch isn't any sort of admission of failure on Glass's part. Morgan Burke, to this point, has a spotless hiring record in football, men's basketball, and I suppose women's basketball (not sure if people are happy with Versyp, but he has hired several good coaches). The Tiller hire was great, and the Painter hire has worked out astoundingly well. As successful as Painter has been, his hiring was something of a gamble given that he had only one year at the helm of a well-stocked SIU program. It seems to me that the Painter hire was successful not because of the unique succession formula used by Burke, but because Painter happens to be a damn good coach. Perhaps the Hope hire was focused too much on the process (repeating the Keady-Painter transition) and not enough on the substance. In any event, Burke may be sufficiently invested in Hope that it may take him longer than you would like to accept that a change is necessary (if it's necessary--you guys probably left 2 or 3 wins on the table because of injuries). That's my outsider's take, at least.

As for the IU situation, as with all transitions, the decision will be judged by what follows.

Boiler_Ditsor said...

Random statement of the day:

I fucking hate IU.

zlionsfan said...

I think people should be happy with Versyp: two Elite Eight appearances in four seasons, one basket away from winning three straight Big Ten tournaments.

John, you're probably right that ADs in general and Burke in particular take more time to fire coaches they've hired ... it'll be interesting to see what happens during the offseason.

If Purdue is going to lose games in disappointing fashion, I'd rather have it happen now when there's plenty of time to learn from it ... just like the end of last season, if JJ and/or Twaun are struggling, other players are going to have to step up and score. Two-man teams don't get to the Final Four.

Anonymous said...

Yea! Purdue has a good women's coach!!!