1/23/2023 Boilermaker Water Cooler Chat: “Best Start Ever” Edition

Photo: Mark Elsner

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

Purdue, this week, improved their record to a fabulous 19-1, first place in the big ten by 2.5 games, and more than likely will be the number 1 team in this week’s AP Poll. That 19-1 record is the best start in Purdue’s history, showing that this squad is in rarified air.

There is something different about this team. Some sort of strength. Intestinal fortitude. They’re tougher than a 3 dollar steak. Resilient.

What separates the men from the boys, or the normal athlete from a true winner, is how composed you are under pressure. Hitting a pressure putt on the back nine of The Masters, bowling a perfect game, draining two clutch free throws, hitting the final cup in a game of Beirut… all of these take a special type of person to succeed when the pressure mounts.

Purdue could’ve folded when the going got tough. When the officials in the Maryland game gave up on calling a competent game, the Boilers didn’t quit. They didn’t rage quit like a gamer-teenager when things weren’t going their way, unplugging their video game systems mid contest. Heck no they didn’t! They toughened up and took care of business. They kept pushing, they kept fighting, they kept winning.

The Games:

#3 Purdue 61, Minnesota 39: The Boilermakers traveled to the haunted hardwood of the Barn, and started slowly. Luckily, the Boilermakers hit the gas about halfway though the opening half, and throttled the hapless Golden Gophers. Braden Smith led the way with 19 pts, 7 reb, and 7 assists. Zach Edey had 12 rebounds and 6 rebounds, snapping his double-double streak.

Maryland 55, #3 Purdue 58: A furious first half for the Boilermakers garnered a big lead, but the second half was a different animal. A reenergized Maryland coupled with a Courtney Green led officiating crew, provided a second half surge for the Terrapins. Although Purdue never trailed in the game, the poor second half showing made this contest much tighter than it should have been. But when the going gets tough, the tough get going. No rage-quitting here! Zach Edey led the way with 24 points and 16 rebounds, in a game that was so referee altered, that there is no way for any journalist to logically analyze what actually happened.

Maryland Photo Gallery: https://snapsbyme.smugmug.com/Purdue-Mens-Basketball/22-23/Maryland/

Break It Down:

Purdue keeps doing what they need to do. Win. The rest of the Big Ten is beginning to cannibalize each other, keeping the Boilermakers in the top spot in the conference race.

The 19-1 start is incredible for a team that lost all of that talent from last year’s squad. They’re showing guts in these tight games, and taking care of business. This team still has room to grow, which is incredible!

Photo: Mark Elsner

What Went Well:

  • 8 for 8: Braden Smith’s free throws against Maryland, which accounted for all of his scoring on Sunday. The last two iced the game in Purdue’s favor, a clutch pair of shots in the final seconds.
  • 12: The total points given up to the Minnesota Golden Gophers in the first half. This ties a school record for fewest in a half.
  • Lock Down!: Ethan Morton’s defense against Maryland was something to behold. His extreme hustle, being in the right spot, and quick hands wreaked havoc for the Terrapins.

Opportunities for Improvement:

  • 15.4%: Purdue’s percentage from the three point line against Maryland. The past few weeks, Purdue’s shooting percentage from 3 was climbing. Took a hit against Maryland.
  • The Big Ten: Allowing these officials to run amok through the conference continues to ruin the weekly fun that this league should be providing. Go ahead and find Purdue’s record against the point spread when Courtney Green officiates their games. It’ll give you a good laugh for something that is supposed to be a virtual coin flip.
  • A Little Help Here: When winning was coming easily earlier this year, Purdue was getting huge contributions from their bench players. Some of that production has waned lately, and will come in huge for the rest of the season.

Big Man on Campus:

With his 19 points against Minnesota, and his clutch free throws against Maryland to close the game out, Braden Smith is this week’s BMOC. For a player who is a freshman, he has been an excellent leader this season.

At times he struggled against Maryland, moving a bit too quickly, and getting frustrated with the Terrapin press. When the cheese got a little binding late in the game, Smith took over, and took care of business.

Ain’t no quit in that young man!

A Look Ahead:

With Houston losing on Sunday, and Kansas losing twice last week, the #3 Purdue Boilermakers should, once again, be ranked #1 in the AP Poll. While there are some podcaster folks who believe Alabama to be the greatest thing since sliced bread, Purdue is the lone remaining 1 loss power conference team.

On Thursday, Purdue travels on the road, to take on the Big Ten’s most even tempered program, the Michigan Wolverines. For what it is worth, Purdue has over a 75% chance of victory according to the ESPN matchup predictor. Then again, life on the road in the Big Ten is not the easiest.

On Sunday, Purdue returns home to host Michigan State in a return match from last week’s thriller. This time the game is being played in the friendly confines of Mackey Arena. The ESPN matchup predictor gives Purdue an over 85% chance for victory.

Another tough week of Purdue basketball will provide the Boilermakers with an opportunity to create some space between them and the rest of the Big Ten.

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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