1/22/2024 Boilermaker Water Cooler Chat: Road Warriors Edition

Photo: Mark Elsner

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

Some of the greatest stories ever told are those of a harrowing journey. Your protagonist travels a great distance, experiencing horrible enemies, through inhospitable weather, only for them to accomplish their goals, and vanquish their foes.

We’ve seen it time and time again. The Lord of the Rings. Homer’s Odyssey. Spaceballs. Homeward Bound. Princess Bride. Strays. James and the Giant Peach. National Lampoon’s Vacation. The Wizard of Oz… The list goes on and on. A long trek in hostile territory leads to good story telling.

This week was all about treacherous treks, and for my price of admission, it was like a Mad Max movie for the Purdue Boilermakers.

If you’re not familiar with the Mad Max series imagine a post apocalyptic wasteland in which your favorite Hollywood leading action star has to take a revenge fueled trek across horrific hellscapes in makeshift armored vehicles… all while dodging marauders, thieves, scantily clad women, and cartoony villians with names like “Lord Humungous”. Whether or not it is Mel Gibson, or Tom Hardy, the series of movies are non-stop ridiculous action.

The entire theme of the series, however, is how dangerous the roads are. Only the baddest of the bad survive the trip. They are the road warriors. Nasty conditions. Only the strong can make it.

Almost as bad as January travel in the Big Ten.

The Games:

#2 Purdue 87, Indiana 66

The first stop on this trek was Purdue heading down south, for a visit to Ass. Hall. Some seventeen thousand squealing candy striped fans sought a third straight year of storming the court against your Boilermakers. Unfortunately for them, after getting smacked in the dawning moments of the game, a dejected fanbase solemnly, silently, left their arena with many minutes left to play. There would be no third consecutive court storm.

Zach Edey dominated the overmatched 5 star frontcourt of the Hoosiers, scoring 33 points and hauling in 14 rebounds. This was done all while dodging multiple attempts at flagrant fouls, making the performance even more impressive. Fletcher Loyer scored 19 on 4/4 from 3 point range, and Lance Jones continued his steady performances by adding 17 points.

The 21 point victory is the largest in the IU Purdue series in 21 years, and is the most lopsided Purdue victory in Bloomington since 1934. Thats 89 years.

#2 Purdue 84, Iowa 70

We’ve seen some embarrassing infrastructure failures happen in some Big Ten arenas over the years. Purdue had the 1947 Bleacher Crash. IU’s Assembly Hall has had multiple dangerous moments of fixtures falling off of its ceiling, one nearly striking an opposing player. Recently Maryland’s XFinity Center had leak issues. This week… Iowa’s Carver Hawkeye Arena was leaking melted snow water onto the floor all day. This game should absolutely not have been played, with the safety of the athletes in mind. I will step off my soap box now.

Zach Edey was once again dominant, scoring 30 points and hauling in 18 rebounds. Lance Jones shushed the hostile Hawkeye homers, with a dagger three late, garnering him 17 points on the day. Fletcher Loyer added 12.

The Boilers took the lead with 11:26 left in the first half, and never looked back. Iowa’s Tony Perkins, the Indianapolis native, was tremendous for the Hawkeyes scoring a very loud 24 points. It wasn’t enough, however, as Purdue opened up a double digit lead, they essentially held it for the remaining 3 quarters of the game despite a couple mini Iowa runs. The cliché “keeping Iowa at arm’s length” trope.

Break It Down:

It is to nobody’s surprise that Purdue has struggled on the road this year. With losses to inferior opponents like Northwestern and Nebraska the road isn’t kind to the Boilers.

Newsflash, the road isn’t kind to ANYONE in the Big Ten. It is hard to be road warriors in this league, but Purdue did what they needed to do TWICE this week.

Winning at Indiana is always a tricky proposition. They tend to treat the Purdue game like their own Creamy Crimson Superbowl. That crowd is nasty, so nasty in fact that the IU Star even wrote an article about how tasteless some of the fan interactions were. Following the loss, Indiana has continued to spiral, and their normally feral fans are in full blown panic. You hate to see it. Purdue is very much a part of that panic, potentially inducing clown pant soiling for the last few days.

Going to Iowa to play under a leaky roof, in hazardous conditions, is its own set of circumstances. Iowa has a lot of offensive firepower, enough to knock off the Boilers. Combine a road environment, with a slip-n-slide, an officiating crew that is more interested in fancy running than calling hooks/holds, and a team that can score… that is a tough out for any team. Boilers did it.

While neither of these games were all that close, a less seasoned Purdue team could have folded when both IU and Iowa went on their runs. This season, they didn’t. This Purdue team is more mature than in years past. Last year’s Purdue team hiccupped in weeks like this. This year’s team is different.

What Went Well:

  • 34: Purdue out rebounded the two teams this week by a total of 92-58. If Purdue wins the rebound margin by 34 each week against Big Ten opponents, there will be plenty of victories going forward.
  • 19: Turnovers total this week, in two lopsided wins in hostile territory. Matt Painter always says that turnovers are this team’s kryptonite, but to average less than 10 per game this week, on the road, is phenomenal.
  • 0: It was constantly said in the offseason that IU’s Xavier Johnson was probably the best point guard in the Big Ten and sure fire All Big Ten player. Potential nay PROBABLE All American. To hold him to 0 points, 2 turnovers, and 0 assists is huge. Any time you can goose egg what was once considered the best point guard in the Big Ten, you’re doing something right.

Opportunities for Improvement:

Like, you know, whatever. I’m not writing this section this week. Two double digit wins on the road, I am not going to nitpick.

Big Man on Campus:

Zach Edey, in the year of our lord 2024, became the first basketball player to have multiple 30 point games at Indiana as an opponent. The first ever. EVER. That alone wins him this award.

Oh, he also fried the Hawkeyes while he was at it.

For the week Zach Edey averaged 31.5 pts, and 16 rebounds. Yeah, that’s good.

One More Thing:

Trey Kauffman Renn was pulled off balance on a rebound, and landed awkwardly, rolling his ankle in the process. It looked horrific. TKR walked gingerly off the floor for treatment, and eventually returned to the bench. He did not re-enter the game.

I haven’t heard any further reports on his injury. Hopefully he is ok. Ankles often times roll and scare you more than they hurt you. Other times, ankles will hurt you more severely some hours or days later. I hope the sophomore starter is ok, because any extended absence would absolutely harm this team’s makeup.

A Look Ahead:

The (as of the writing of this article) #2 Purdue Boilermakers will likely hold at that ranking considering #1 UConn did not lose. With that being said, The Boilermakers still had as good of a week as anyone.

This week provides new challenges. On 1/23 Purdue returns home to take on a struggling Michigan team, who will be without their best player, Dug McDaniel, who has been suspended from the team. For clarification, he has been suspended exclusively for road games, for some reason. Who knows what will happen. Juwan Howard has shown a propensity for bringing the fight to his opponents, and I am sure he would like to smack Purdue in the face on Tuesday.

Following that, Purdue travels yet again, to Rutgers’ Terrifying Trapezoid Sandwich Arena on 1/28. Purdue has been tormented by Rutgers the past few years, and by the state of New Jersey in general. Is this another demon that this more mature Boilermaker squad can slay?

Purdue should be prohibitive favorites in both games this week, but like we’ve already alluded to, traveling in the Big Ten is a nightmare. That’s why we play the games!

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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