1/2/2024 Boilermaker Water Cooler Chat: New Year Edition

Photo: Mark Elsner

Rants, ravings, and somewhat sensical opinions following the wild, wacky, and wide-wide world of Purdue sports.

Some Purdue folk want to fast forward to March. I couldn’t disagree more. With the calendar flipping over from 2023 to 2024, one thing is for sure, time is inevitable, unstopping, and unrelenting.

We simply cannot wish time away. I have said in weeks past for these columns that we as fans need to understand the here and now. See what is happening right in front of our faces. Enjoy what we are seeing, and feel the significance of what we are doing.

I was blessed enough to spend New Years Eve with my family, my wife, and my dog. While we all look forward to the count down, the ball drop, the waning moments of the year 2023, there is one very real moment that I try to savor. I look forward to it every year.

I take a mental snapshot the last second of each year. I make a conscious effort to breathe in the significance of this final moment in time. I am not sure why the final second of the year is so fascinating to me. Maybe the impending change ahead, maybe its the fact that I have been blessed to spend them with loved ones and I am getting nostalgic, or maybe alcohol is involved and time is running differently by this time in the night, well beyond my bedtime.

Never mind that. I’m sitting here writing this article while my dog stares at the Rose Bowl game. A game that I remember when it kicked off a couple decades back with Drew Brees, another second that burnt into my memory. Taylor Stubblefield 97 yards, that’s another moment. Purdue vs Tennessee in football or basketball? Those are some moments. Mamadi Diakite, that’s another. Winning another Big Ten championship… Farleigh Dickinson…

At any given moment, you might remember were you were for one reason or the other. This Purdue team will give us memories. Some may be good, others may be less so… the bottom line is, eventually the moments will come. I think this team has some positive memories to provide in 2024. Lets not wish time away.

Happy New Year, folks. Hope 2024 finds you well.

The Game:

A ho-hum businesslike game, which started with a series of post Christmas turnovers for the Boilermakers. After that got figured out, Purdue took charge and took it to the lesser opponent. Fletcher Loyer led the way in scoring, with 14 points. He was one of four Boilermakers in double digits, with Zach Edey, Trey Kaufmann Renn, and Mason Gillis adding 13, 10, and 10 respectively. The balanced scoring came on the shoulders of more balanced minutes, but likewise against a series of differing defensive looks that the Colonels showed.

Defensively, Purdue did what they needed to do in order to assure that Eastern Kentucky couldn’t get rolling. Purdue only forced 12 turnovers, but soundly won the rebound battle 46-25.

Break It Down:

Maybe it was rust at the beginning there as the Boilers had 5 turnovers in the first few minutes, but after settling down, this game was all Boilermakers.

What was interesting about this one is two fold. 1) It appeared that Zach Edey looked to facilitate for much of this game. He was playing his inside-out game without exactly looking for his shot. 2) If you look at raw numbers, Purdue didn’t play -that- well offensively. Low 3 point shooting, low FT shooting, lots of early turnovers… However, this game was never really in doubt.

No player played more than Zach Edey/Fletcher Loyer’s 26, with the deep bench coming in for some good minutes later in the game. This is significant, considering that keeping miles off of the starter’s legs leading into the Big Ten season. Freshness while entering the conference gauntlet is important.

EKU Photo Gallery: https://snapsbyme.smugmug.com/Purdue-Mens-Basketball/23-24/EasternKentucky/

What Went Well:

  • Balance: When you have 4 players score in double digits, and have a couple other players flirting with it, it shows the depth of this team. Having the luxury of scoring threats through the entire roster is a very good thing.
  • 20 Assists: on 33 field goals continues to be a great number for the Boilermakers. If you are assisting on 60%+ of your made baskets, then your team is a well oiled machine.
  • Heide: Has springs in his legs, and can sky for both lob passes and rebounds. Against Eastern Kentucky he had multiple athletic alley-oop finishes, which made my jaw drop. Yes, they’re only worth 2 points, but there is a psychological advantage when a team can just show off the great physical prowess.

Opportunities for Improvement:

  • 57.1%: Free throw shooting is not good. If the Boilermakers are going to have a bad shooting day from the stripe, good thing it was against Eastern Kentucky. In Big Ten play, Purdue needs all the points they can get.
  • 28.6%: Shooting from 3 is quite poor. If the Boilermakers are going to have a bad shooting day from beyond the arc, good thing it was against Eastern Kentucky, In Big Ten play, Purdue needs all the points they can get.

Big Man on Campus:

Mason Gillis is the BMOC this week. His 10 points and 9 rebounds may not jump out on the stat sheet, but if you watched the game, you saw something nasty about him on Friday. His hustle and grit was on display as he attacked rebounds, and looked for his shot from deep. Gillis may not be a starter currently, but his leadership will win Purdue some games this season.

A Look Ahead:

The #1 Purdue Boilermakers are entering Big Ten season, with a couple of challenges ahead of them this week.

The Boilermakers head on the road to take on a Maryland team looking for a signature victory on Tuesday, January 2nd. This game is on Peacock, which is really, really awesome. While Purdue should be a huge favorite for this game, Maryland is not an easy place to play. Even though the Maryland students are out of town, it will be a madhouse. Also, keep in mind, Purdue has yet to win a true road game this season.

Next Purdue will host #9 Illinois on Friday 1/5. Illinois has been impressive so far, but have suffered a terrible blow this past week. Their All-American candidate, and best player Terrance Shannon Jr. has been indefinitely suspended from the team following a rape charge, stemming from an incident earlier this year. Even without Shannon playing, there is plenty of talent on this Illini team, making them the second best team in the B10 so far this season.

Purdue’s march to another Big Ten Championship starts in full this week. There are still 18 games to go, but Purdue is currently 1 game down in the standings, due to the Northwestern loss. Taking another loss this early in the season would not be great.

For more content like this follow @ISC_Purdue on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook. For a deeper look into the mad mind of Ben Kolodzinski, follow him at @BRKolo on Twitter. WARNING: Viewer’s discretion is advised…

About Benjamin Kolodzinski 105 Articles
Blending the passion of a sports fan with years of media experience, Ben Kolodzinski is a unique personality for ISC Purdue. Since the 2017-18 NCAA seasons, Ben has written weekly columns for ISC, with a style that can only be described as snarky, irreverent, and often times irrelevant. A 2008 graduate from Purdue West Lafayette, Kolodzinski has worked for several local and regional media outlets. Best known for his television and radio work at Lakeshore Public Media (Lakeshore Public Television, and 89.1 The Lakeshore), Kolodzinski helped grow Northwest Indiana's only nightly news show Lakeshore News Tonight, along with The Region's only local sports shows Prep Sports Report, and Prep Football Report. As of 2022, Kolodzinski hosts Lakeshore Gamenight, a prep football radio show and cohosts Lakeshore PBS Scoreboard, a prep football TV highlight show. Kolodzinski is known, locally, for having a fun loving and gregarious personality, and for attempting to inject humor into his reporting... sometimes successfully.

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