Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Yes, They're That Good

I've chronicled my difficulty with watching basketball this year.  EsPN's waffling lovefest between Duke and IU is enough to make any self-respecting fan have thoughts of never watching a sport they love again.  That atop of Purdue's on-going problems has made this season tough to swallow.  Last night though, I embraced all of it.

The sycophantic rantings of Vitale, the awkward holding of Magic Johnson by the same character of a psuedo-expert, nervous sweating and pacing of an overhyped coach, demonstrative whining of another, unlikable thugs on one side, overly-dramatic posing on the other...this game had plenty not to like.  But, it also was centered around two very good basketball teams so I watched much of it with the volume up (that part wasn't easy).

There are two things honest Purdue fans can appreciate- First, yes, IU looks like the best team in the nation right now.  Their offense, talent and cohesiveness are impressive. Oladipo is a truly great college player that has a quicker first step than about anyone in the nation and is a tremendous he's simply clutch. Zeller is a force; when IU needs a stop, rebound or bucket, he generally delivers.  Around those two NBA players, everyone knows their role...Farrell is a star in the making, the girl shot guy can bomb if not guarded and Watford reminds me of Robert Horry (also clutch and steady).

Purdue fans who don't believe IU is the favorite to win the national title are in denial.  They're damned good...and if it wasn't for their fanbase, nervous BSing coach and their uniforms, they'd be a ton of fun to watch...but you can't have one thing without the other right now, so things are what they are.

The Forehead is a tremendous recruiter and great motivator.  He has that team pointed the same (and correct, by the way) direction.  They rightfully have their sites set on a national title.

If you're like my BS counterpart, you might be confident that Crean's in-game nonsense will doom IU...right now, I'm not so confident about that.  Bad in-game coaches have won national titles before...when the right guy gets hot at the right time (i.e. Oladipo) and he's surrounded by players who know their role, good things happen for that team.  Plus, the formula of having two or three NBA players seems to be alive and well for IU.

I'm rooting against this with everything and hoping we're watching IU peak in February...which as we know too well, isn't really worth much at the end of the season.

It's easy to argue with IU fans about the silliness and absurdity of Sweet 16 rings and a coach that parades around the concourse following a win over a barely-ranked team.  It's pretty impossible to argue the validity of a national title...especially one in the debater's lifetime.

Sure, IU fans will continue to ignore the head-to-head count or B1G titles...but I bet most of you feel like I do and would trade about any of Purdue's records for a national title in the modern era.

The scenario we're in stinks...the best we can hope for right now is that IU poops the bed in the tourney and pretty much everybody leaves town.  Half of that scenario doesn't seem likely to me right now...the other half would hardly be salve in the wound.


Melissa said...

Agreed. It's never a fun day to be in a down year when your biggest rival is the best team in the nation. This isn't an easy place to be in, but we just have to remember, Boiler faithful, this too shall pass. Purdue is up and coming. I am sure of that. Can't wait to see these guys develop over the next 3 years especially.

Ever Faithful, Ever True
Boiler Up

Boilergal said...

I am just holding on to the hope that they lose in the tourney. They are very impressive, and aside from SheHe, they are a pretty respectable bunch of guys. Oladipo has to be the player of the year, even if he chose sniffing his fingers to be his celebratory gesture (what?). They lose all of their 1000-point scorers at the end of the season, then Crean starts parading his one-and-done candidates around... the thing that makes this team so tough is its experience and its cohesiveness from time spent playing and training together. Gonna be hard for Crean to replicate with the caliber of player he has now targetted.

Also, if one of my "friends" has not attended IU, I don't acknowledge them as someone that can talk crap to me. And, not surprisingly, their football teams of choice are usually ND or OSU. I will take the ribbing from an actual grad and actual fan that supports FB as well, but those aren't usually the people I see doing the squawking. I think the grads actually have sense enough to wait to see what the team can accomplish in March/April.

chevys10 said...

At least ND didn't win the National Championship...but I think IU has a much better shot than ND did.

Ok, I have to go throw up.

L2F said...

Agree with everyone else. IU is hands down the team to beat. They have a great big man in Zeller. The POY in Oladipo. Hulls is deadly when he is open, which he is a lot because of so many other weapons. Oladipo, Hulls, Sheehey, and Watford are all shooting 48% or better from 3. I hate to admit this but they are one of the best teams I have seen in a while. If they lose in the tournament it will be a huge surprise.

L2F said...

Edit to my previous post: Sheehey is only shooting 37.3% from 3, which is still 2% better than our "deep thread" Byrd. FML.

zlionsfan said...

I still think Florida is a better team - their offense is comparable to Indiana's and their defense is significantly better - but the softness of the SEC may leave the Gators a little short of big-game experience when the tournament comes around. Donovan is probably better positioned than anyone not in Durham to get a team through an unexpectedly close game (and Duke's back-to-back titles were more than 20 years ago), but you can only coach them so much, and playing Arkansas and Kentucky is not like playing Michigan State and Wisconsin.

And the difference between Florida and Indiana isn't as much as, say, the difference between Indiana and any other Big Ten team. I wouldn't bet on a Big Ten team going farther in the tournament than IU; whether or not Crean can be a positive factor, it's possible that they can simply overwhelm most opponents with talent.

I will note that two of Indiana's losses came to teams that prefer a slow, deliberate pace. Butler got about 30 minutes of slower ball before IU got the tempo they were looking for, and of course Wisconsin squeezed the life out of their game as they always do. (IU plays them only once this year. Pity.) The Illinois loss was closer to the Illini's preferred pace as well. Should Indiana meet a team like Pitt or Gonzaga or Miami, they could be in for a real struggle.

Boilergal said...

It will also be interesting to see how all of the Big Ten teams fare in the postseason. As usual, the Big Ten has been a rough and tumble league this year... and the refs have let them play. This is a recurring theme and most years the tourney is called a bit tighter than the conference. I wonder how much the lack of bench experience will affect IU when say, Zeller, is finally in foul trouble? Will Hanner have enough big-time experience to be a serviceable back-up? Will Elston be able to fill in down low with success? Will be interesting to follow how the changes between conference and tourney will affect all of the Big Ten teams that have grown accustomed to beating up on their opponents. This is something that has torpedoed more than a few worthy Big Ten teams in past years.

As far as the speed of the game, it seems that IU has improved in their slowed-down half-court offense over the past month of so. They have also looked to get Zeller the touches that he should get as of late. Although slowing the game should still be the strategy taken by opposing teams that play well at a slower pace, IU has done a pretty good job of improving that aspect of their game.

Plang said...

I haven't watched many games on EsPN this year, mostly because I'm just tired of their productions and many of their announcers. Then again, the announcers on CBS bug me just as much. What I have noticed this year is that the love fest for the Big East has died down a bit, and everyone seems to agree that the B1G is pretty darn good, even if you don't like watching the defensive slug matches that go on (Dan Patrick, et al).

But here's the thing: I want IU to be good. I don't want them to win the national championship, but I want them to be good. I want the games Purdue plays with them to mean something. Right now with our Boilers barely showing it doesn't mean that much. So I want Matty to get those young guys playing time and chomping at the bit to get back on top of the conference next year. But I want IU to be good, so that when Purdue beats them it feels very good. I want a reason to be smug again.

boilerbeck said...

This has been the most brutal year to be a fan since I started attending Purdue in 1990. But it has given me yet another reason to be thankful that I moved to Portland, OR three years ago. I haven't had to experience firsthand any of the mouth breathing redneck reversible jacket fans that terrorized me living in Indianapolis.

James said...

All great reasons. However, when push comes to shove, IU will be knocked out by the Regional Final and Michigan State will make the Final Four. Why? Coaching.

BoilerByBlood said...

I completely agree with James. I have a feeling they're going to choke.

Plus, if Hazell starts winning Rose Bowls, I won't give a flying flip about IU and there basketball titles. These days--football is king in college sports. It's just unfortunate that we have a ways to go there too, but I have a good feeling about the direction we're headed.

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