Monday, March 18, 2013

Half Empty or Half Full: Another Look at the CBI

J and I discussed this earlier today, and I think our opinions are a bit different about the CBI draw.

On one hand, no Purdue fan should think the CBI is an acceptable destination for this or any other Purdue basketball team.  There's too much talent on this team for them to be in the third-tier tournament.

On the other hand, Purdue is exactly where they should be, based on their play this year.  In late December, it looked like Purdue might have figured some things out as they began to play with some cohesiveness...two months later, after getting shellacked by good and not-so-good teams alike, they seemed to be in disarray...THEN, they played a really solid stretch of basketball in which they looked like the team I thought they'd be in February/March.  Finally, they completely soiled the bed versus Nebraska in an uninspired game loss v. Nebraska.

The wake of that last game felt like the first Northwestern game, the second Iowa game or either IU game...The team didn't look like they cared to be playing that much.  And when I see a team play that way, I feel regret for wasting my time watching them.  Sadly, I'm an addict, and will watch Purdue play, even when they're bad...over and over and over and...

I still have a sour taste in my mouth from the Nebraska game. A team that looks like a MAC team controlled Purdue for most of the game. Their coach had them hustling for 50/50 balls, fighting and playing their best ball...Purdue, on the other hand was playing well below their ability, and worse, seemed to not want to be there. If there are any Purdue players or coaches reading this, I'm sure they can understand why Purdue fans don't really like watching a team that doesn't seem to like itself much and seems to play hard every now and again.

I'm not condoning giving up on Purdue basketball...but I do understand why many have wanted to take a break until next year.  This was a tough season for all parts involved. And now, the fruits of Purdue's labor for the '12-'13 season is college basketball's equivalent of the participation trophy: the College Basketball Invitational tournament invite.

Like all addicts, I've been trying to find a way to get my next fix this morning. I want to go up and watch the football team practice this week and might also see if I can get some tix to the Western Illinois game while I'm at it on Wednesday. I've legitimized my poor behavior by saying I'm already going to be on campus, the real tourney isn't even playing that night and my son's basketball league ended on Saturday...I'm sick, I know I won't feel good about myself on Thursday morning; Beating a Summit League foe in March will be tough scenario to get excited about...and God forbid how my head will pound on Thursday morning if they should lose the game.

But let's look to the very recent past for positivity and perspective about the CBI to help us through this, shall we?

The 2012 CBI had a couple basketball powers in it- Butler; a two-time tourney finalist in the last five seasons and Pitt who is almost always ranked in the top-15-20 (but typically underwhelms in March).

This year, those two teams are both in the dance- Butler had a solid season, same goes for Pitt...but both showed a ton more fight than last season.

First off, Butler was pretty young in ' the wake of losing three of the best players in program history in the previous two seasons (Heyward, then Mack and Howard), Butler lacked identity and continuity and experience.

Next up, Pitt.  They began the season as a top-10 team.  But, an 8-loss streak and a 5-loss streak toward the end of the regular season made them a team that no one outside of the city of the 'Burgh cared too much about.  They had three Seniors on the roster, one didn't play much...the other two carried much of the load...but experienced depth was a problem.

One big difference from our Boilers in '13 and these two in '12 was they both finished over .500.

Pitt won the three game championship series v. Oregon State...Butler lost to Pitt in the semis.  Did the CBI give these two teams momentum heading into this season or were they just cases of big fish in a small pond; I think an argument could be made for both sides of that discussion.

Oregon State, like Purdue's opponent in the CBI this season, kinda seems like they're stuck in neutral.  Neither program has progressed since last season.

So what will Purdue gain out of this largely unimportant tournament? Will they be like Pitt and Butler and take a step forward after next season after playing hard in the tourney, or will they be like TCU who wasn't that good last year, and got worse this season?

Time will tell. What we do know is Purdue is that if Purdue deserved any post-season play at all, it is a tournament that is little more than a bunch of scrimmages that no one cares about outside of the two fan bases involved...and even within those fan bases, it's tough to find people that really, truly want to watch the contests.

The good news is, it's really tough to find these games on TV. The former HDNet, now network (I didn't know it existed) will be carrying these...but I think your best bet might be a nostalgic listen to the Cliz, if you're not heading to God's country for football practice the game.

Texas also made the CBI...Texas, whose Coach Rick Barnes made an awful deal with the devil, has had a horrible fall from grace since ye olde days in which they'd be highly ranked before disappointing in March...He got his squad to a game under .500 this season.  If both two teams win two games, they'll play in the semis of the CBI.

*addendum- I just read that there is no football practice that's open to the public on Wednesday...


WinamacBoiler said...

I am reposting this comment because I think it's that accurate:

If CMP benches everyone who isn't going to be there next year - I mean literally don't even let them off the bench, regardless of the game situation and/or who worked golly gee hard in practice this week - THEN I'll buy the "real world practice / building for next year" bit. If a single senior steps foot on the floor, or if we find out later that CMP played someone he knew was transferring, then this was a horrific waste of time and money.

U-P Boiler said...

Playing in the CBI is like playing a FCS team in the pre-conference - if you win, "What do you expect? It's a friggin FCS team?" If you lose, "God, you guys suck - you can't even beat an FCS team!"

I just wish Purdue could do a Europe tour in April. Even though it didn't help this team, it usually creates a sense of togetherness for teams leading in to the next season. I hate that it can't happen on a yearly basis, but NCAA rules prohibit it.

Brotherman85 said...

No Boiled Sports CBI tournament bracket pool?

boilerdowd said...

I looked for about 20 minutes for one...can't find one...might be because of the re-seeding that I'm told occurs after the second round...might be because not enough people care.

U-P Boiler said...

Boilerdowd, that's the OTHER reason I think this is a bad idea. I can't imagine that attendance at Mackey for any of the games will be high at all - embarrassing.

WinamacBoiler said...

I caught some flak from a buddy of mine for my earlier comment. Let me be clear: I love our seniors; my comment has nothing to do with them, though arguably they would be punished by what I'm proposing. The reason I say bench them and any known transfers is because what I really think this team needs is to go sit in a quiet place and think about what just happened (or be waterboarded, whichever would clear their heads quickest). I don't think it has anything to do with skill or practice needed - I think it's purely a blend of ego, immaturity, lack of trust, etc., etc. I don't think more games will solve that. However, for those who do think more games will solve that, I say fine, but only play people that will hopefully be part of the solution in 2013-2014. The seniors are lame ducks as it pertains to that process, as are any known transfers. Take the eggs that will make the 2013-2014 omelet and go to work. That was my point.

Wilson06 said...

Well... I can't lie that I was semi relieved our season was over after crapping the bed against Nebraska, but now we are in the CBI. I don't really know what to think about it, but I am very curious as to what CMP will do here with the players.

I will be going to the game with my dad. I'm an 06 grad he's a 74 grad and ive been going to games since age 2 and he has had season tickets since 67 to football and basketball.

I love Purdue and support them no matter what. I just can't imagine the ridicule we will suffer if we get beat by some of these teams. So I just want to see what CMP is going to do.

Anonymous said...

I have a serious question friends. What is the goal for the Purdue Basketball program? Is it to win games or win a National Championship?

The CBI Championship means nothing to me. But, Purdue preparing to make a run at the NCAA Championship next year does. That means players not going to be on the team next year or having a prominent role next year dont play.

Maybe it's because I am a coach that this decision is so clear to me. I hope it is clear to Painter even if it is not clear to every Purdue alum and student.

WinamacBoiler said...

boxer - ding ding ding. you're the big winner in my book. If this is practice, then make it real. Play the guys that you'll have when it actually counts - which sure as hell better be this coming year.

Boilergal said...

The only issue with benching the seniors (I guess we are talking Byrd here) is that if he is helpful in winning a game that advances the whole team to more practices/games, then benching is stupid. I think you just try to get this team as much practice/experience as you can to help propel them to success next season. If it means that Byrd is hitting and it will help the team win, play him. If he is missing (we all know if he is missing he isn't doing much else to help), then bench him and play someone else in his place. There is a balance.

WinamacBoiler said...

Gal - That's a fair point. Honestly I'm more thinking of anyone that might be abandoning ship than Dj. That will be hindsight knowledge unfortunately.

Anonymous said...

Boilergal, I will tell you why not playing DJ, Dru, Sandi, and AJ is a good idea.

Hammons, TJohn, RonJohn, RayDay, Hale, and Lawson are talented enough to walk away with this tournament. What these players need is crunch time experience. If you put DJ, Carroll, Sandi, or AJ in "just to get them through to the next game" knowing that these four will have little or no role next year, you rob the players who will be key next year of this vital exeperience.

Hammons needs to learn how to single-handedly take over games and play for 40 mins. TJohn needs to take on the sole leadership role and guide the team through difficult times.

The new players coming in next year are already tweeting that they are going to come in an lead the team. For the returning players, it is audition time. Are they going to fight for their spot or are they gonna take the next bus trip to IUPUI? Because, the fan base is not going to put up with another year like this. Neither should Painter.

BoilerBloodline said...

I completely agree WB. The seniors of this squad had the entire year to put their mark on this season. This "tournament" will hopefully allow our young guys to get a jump on next year. It sounds like Lawson & A. John may transfer, minus the seniors, that doesn't give you many players. But I believe it would be for the best. My guess is this will never happen.