Rants, ravings, and somewhat sensical opinions following the wild, wacky, and wide-wide world of Purdue sports.
A decade or so ago I visited New Orleans with some of my best friends. We attended the infamous Jazz Fest, headlined by the one and only, Jimmy Buffett. While Jimmy’s blend of tropical music wasn’t my first choice, I like a good party, so I was looking forward to seeing the man do his thing in front of thousands of adoring fans.
For the uninitiated, Jimmy Buffett is a strange cat, when it comes to the music industry. He’s not Mozart by any means. We’re not talking about a particularly skilled musician. His niche, however, is more of the philosophical, carefree attitude that his fans have grown to love.
One of the more famous Jimmy Buffett songs is “Changes in Latitudes, Changes in Attitudes.” One set of lyrics of this shanty is starting to hold some truth for this Purdue basketball team.
These changes in latitudes, changes in attitudes,Jimmy Buffett; Changes in Latitudes, Changes in Attitudes
Nothing remains quite the same.
Through all of the islands and all of the highlands,
If we couldn’t laugh we would all go insane
Purdue Basketball can not change their latitudes, but they can change their attitudes. They’re going to have to, mighty quick. This team can be legendary, or they can be an after thought. They can be a champion, or they can be a run of the mill, upper-card B1G basketball program. It all comes down to the attitude.
No matter where they travel, Purdue will probably the be the favorites in these games. Whether or not they’re at home or on the road, the Purdue Boilermakers -SHOULD- be right where they need to be. Will they? Absolutely not. This team doesn’t have the right attitude, anymore.
The killer instinct that this Purdue team had to begin the season has dissipated. The team that closed the games out against North Carolina and Villanova seems to be in the distant past. The team that straight up, unmercifully controlled the competition is nowhere to be found. The team that was at one point the #1 team in the nation… Remember that?
Today, this team looks like a group of lost players. Yeah, yeah, the’re still an impressive 12-2… but those two losses have been to teams that a top program in the nation shouldn’t lose. They’ve looked unimpressive. They look like they need a change in attitude.
What can be done anyways? Ever since the probability of Purdue being ranked #1 rose to a near certainty, this team got sloppy. Despite dominating Iowa, Purdue nearly choked that game away. They lost to a sub-par Rutgers game in their next outing. People laughed. The nation rolled their eyes. Since the second half of the Iowa game, things haven’t been the same.
Sure, Purdue has continued to win over 80% of their wins YTD… which is an elite level. This has happened with one of the toughest slates in the nation. The stress level that teams are giving Purdue right now is unmatched. Everyone is giving Purdue their best shot. As they should. In addition to Purdue’s change in attitude, we Purdue fans need to do our part.
We need to calm down. Matt Painter is an excellent coach, and he has an excellent roster. The games that Purdue have lost have been painful, and some of the wins have been equally as gut-wrenching. Everyone needs to chill. I am just as guilty as the next Purdue fan. If we don’t change our attitudes, we will drive ourselves nuts. We will wind up crammed onto the Boilermaker Special and carpooled to the looney bid, unless we change our own collective attitudes. This isn’t that important. Sit back, smile, enjoy what’s left of this ride. If we couldn’t laugh we would all go insane.
Photos: Mark Elsner
- Purdue piddled down their legs, at home, losing to the #23 Wisconsin Badgers 74-69.
- Purdue showed stronger effort, but still struggled against an overmatched Penn State team, in Happy Valley, outlasting the Nittany Lions 74-67.
What Went Well:
- Bouncing Back: On the road, against a team coached by someone who knows everything about you, is easier said than done. This Penn State team is starting to hit their stride, most recently defeating Indiana and Northwestern. Any road victory in the B1G is important.
- Trevion: Is playing quite steadily as of late. He is still the All-American caliber player that Purdue needs him to be, and he has settled into this season. Purdue needs continued steady performances from this senior leader.
Opportunities for Improvement:
- Y’awnt To: Noun: A regional dialect contraction of the words You, Want, and To, used as a single word as a noun meaning “One’s want to” or “One’s effort level towards the goal.” Purdue’s Y’awnt To, has not been at the levels that it needs to be. If the Boilers could turn it on, Purdue can absolutely turn this around. Purdue’s goals will achieved by want-to, not by simply showing up.
- Y’awnt Too: Play some defense. Purdue has the athletes to match up, but allowing a Wisconsin player go for nearly 40 points, and allowing multiple Penn State players to bomb 3s during a long stretch in the second half needs to stop. Defense is about effort, and effective communication. It seems like both are lacking right now for the Boilermakers.
- 4 Points: The total that Purdue would’ve beaten Wisconsin by had they hit all of their free throws. If Purdue doesn’t take advantage of free points, they will continue to lose games like this. Missing 9 free throws will doom a team in the B1G.
- Rinse, Repeat: My kingdom for a Big Ten Commissioner who actually holds their officials accountable. Both of the games this week were drastically affected by officiating. Whether or not it was timely swallowing of whistles, the hair trigger whistles on touches, or calling fouls on Zach Edey for literally being big… The officiating for basketball tends to be just awful. I know, I know, there’s a shortage of basketball referees in the world. Why do all of the seemingly incompetent ones have to be concentrated in the Big Ten?
Big Man on Campus:
Mason Gillis has become the spark that Purdue has needed. When other players are struggling or not showing effort, Gillis has answered the call. His hustle plays, defensive effort, and sharpshooting, Mason has become the rock solid base of this team.
With 9 points against Wisconsin, and 14 against Penn State (on 3-4, three point attempts), Gillis has kept Purdue’s head above water this week.
A Look Ahead:
Purdue’s game originally slated on Tuesday 1/11 against Michigan has been postponed due to COVID-19 precautions on the Wolverines’ squad. So, Purdue’s next game will be at home against Nebraska, on Friday 1/14. The Boilermakers will be big favorites in that game.
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