Sunday, January 20, 2008
While the Baby Boilers didn't completely follow my formula for success in the Big Ten (at least one player needs to score 20 to win), another player stepped up when needed to give the offense a needed boost. This time, it was Calasan, the former JUCo star who has really played well during the Big Ten season. Nemanja's ability to shoot from 20 feet coupled with his size make him a tough match up for Big Ten big men.
Purdue started the game slowly yet again, and didn't seem to get in gear until about the 16:00 mark in the second half. Illinois kept Purdue at an arm's length riding great play by Senior bigs Randle and Pruitt...But as fouls mounted, Weber was forced to sit Randle and the Illini simply couldn't adjust without him.
While the Boilers JuJuan Johnson, Robbie Hummel, Scott Martin and Nemanja Calasan struggled with Illini players in the post, Purdue's guards shot well again. Keaton Grant's trademark rainbow helped him to continue shooting well from behind the arc; one of his shots in the second half caused me to yell, "NO!" at the TV screen and caused Painter to put his hands over his head in frustration...but Keaton hit the shot. E'Twaun Moore played well yet again and seems to be getting more and more comfortable with his role as an offensive threat. He must be deceptively quick, because defenses struggle with him, but he looks pretty slow on TV. Robbie Hummel, after a slow start, was a shot in the arm for the Baby Boilers during the 20-3 run in the second half.
As the game progressed, ex-Purdue coach Bruce Weber looked more and more pitiful as he reacted to what was occurring on the court...the silly flash cards he held up didn't help anything ("Screeners"). I like Weber, but this season has not been a good one for the Illini and many are blaming the coach who took the Illini to the Final Four just a few years ago. Grumblings from Champaign suggest that he might be out at the end of the season...If they fire him, especially with all of the new players in the program, and the tampering by ole Coach Sanctions, they will be making a mistake that another school will quickly capitalize upon. Weber won't be jobless long if that scenario unfolds.
Next up,the Claxton-less Penn State Nittany Lions in Happy Valley...PSU has lost their last three. Purdue needs to win this game to officially drop the moniker "Baby Boilers".