Rants, ravings, and somewhat sensical opinions following the wild, wacky, and wide-wide world of Purdue sports.
Have you ever sneezed while holding your nose shut? You know, trying to keep it in, stopping it?
Well, first of all, I am not a doctor, but I highly suggest -NOT- holding your nose shut while sneezing. I am pretty sure that something will rupture or prolapse if you were to do that.
Anyways, I was blessed enough to cover the Purdue vs Ohio State game from press row, representing this very same publication.
Now I am a seasoned professional when it comes to media stuff, even if my style is quirky and/or snarky. Rule number one, no cheering in the press-box. You also know my hyperbolic twitter persona. While there is a certain percentage of my public image which is performance art, I do have a tendency to occasionally vocalize my displeasure when I am not on the beat. However, on Sunday, I was good. Poker face. Business on the outside…
Therein lies the problem.
When you have a rollercoaster of a game like Sunday, you can act all businesslike and professional… but your soul is boiling inside. When the heat builds inside Mackey, the pressure reaches a precipice. The crowd goes nuts, you get that feeling. When a 20 point lead evaporates, the sneeze builds. When a last second three falls and the crowd erupts in victorious glee.
You hold your nose while you sneeze.
#6 Purdue 83, Iowa 73: Purdue hit the road to take on Fran and the fighting McCafferys, and won by the exact total that my Mom predicted pregame. While the score was relatively close, Purdue pretty much controlled from the tip. Isiah Thompson had a team high 18, going 4-6 from the three point line. 4 other Boilermakers scored in double digits, as the much improved defense held Iowa in check.
#16 Ohio State 78, #6 Purdue 81: An efficient Purdue, riding an unstoppable performance from Zach Edey built a double digit lead going into the final few minutes of the game. In those final few minutes, however, THE Ohio State Buckeyes went disproportionally-thermo-nuclear hitting a series of threes in the final minutes which, coupled with Purdue’s propensity to miss nearly half of their free throws, left the ball game tied with one possession remaining. That possession, fortunately, ended with Jaden Ivey drilling a last second three to stem the bleeding, and send Purdue to victory.
Break It Down:
2-0 on the week is a good position to be in. Purdue went on the road and took down an Iowa team which was chocked-full of Keegan Murray this time around. Victories on the road in the Big Ten are incredibly tough to come by, a welcome site for the Boilermaker faithful.
Sunday, Purdue’s victory over a ranked Ohio State wasn’t pretty, but a win is a win. Ohio State’s feverish comeback illustrates that they are still a very good team. Bolstered by an All American in E.J. Liddell, the Buckeyes are an impressive victory in any circumstance. To survive the late surge that Ohio State brought to the table, and escape with a victory is a welcome site. Again, a Win is a Win!
Boilermakers have improved their record to 18-3, and will climb higher from #6 in the standings. Purdue, as of right now, are still firmly on the #2 seed line for the NCAA Tournament, and control their own destiny to make a #1 seed. This is where you want to be come February.
Photo Credit: Mark Elsner
What Went Well:
lives hereis moving back in!: Purdue has put together two impressive defensive performances in two games. While there has been a non-Purdue like defensive output to this season, there appears to be a step in the right direction. Iowa struggled mightily for the majority of the contest. Likewise, the intensity against Ohio State was on par for what they need to do. While there have been some particularly painful stretches in which opponents have made huge runs, Purdue has been able to beat them back.
- Bombs Away!: Purdue shot 13-22 (59%) from three against Iowa, and 8-17 (47%) from three against Ohio State. This clip will win the Boilermakers a lot of games.
- Cold Blooded: Jaden Ivey and Matt Painter both mentioned in the post game press conference that the game-winning play against Ohio State was actually a mistake. Ivey made the wrong rotation, putting the ball in a position where they couldn’t get it to option A., Zach Edey. With the play broken, Eric Hunter Jr. kept it alive, dribbling into a good position, where, Ivey (who broke the play), nailed the game winner. He broke it, but he fixed it. Onions. Bullseye. That is what NBA players do.
Opportunities for Improvement:
- FINISH HIM!: While Ivey’s clutch, buzzer beating 3s are certainly exciting, Purdue needs that alpha to end the game before it gets scary. Purdue was winning by 20 against OSU. Who on this team is going to be the player to nip that comeback in the bud? Purdue is searching for the dude to end the run at 12 pts, not at “Tied Game”.
- Fifteen feet: The distance of a free throw. Ten feet. The height of the rim. In the press conference, Matt Painter said, “Nobody is trying to miss their free throws.” If Purdue makes their free throws, Purdue could possibly be undefeated, and absolutely would have won comfortably against OSU. Free throws are like anything else, sometimes you get into a slump. Hopefully the Boilermakers find their slumpbuster.
Big Man On Campus:
Did he lead the team in scoring? Nope. Did he hit the game winning three? Nope. He led the team with heart and grit. Mason Gillis’ toughness came up with multiple offensive rebounds in the battle against OSU, that gave Purdue the boost they needed to overcome the Buckeyes.
Gillis is everything that I want in a player. 7 points, 11 rebounds (5 offensive), 2 assists, and intense defense.
Mason Gillis, right now, is the brick and mortar supporting this structure. May not get the hype, but Purdue needs every bit of his strength!
One Final Thing:
I want to thank the Purdue Athletic Department for the hospitality, this Sunday while I covered the game. I had a similar opportunity to cover Purdue basketball last year, during the Pandemic, which was not traditional. Prior to that, my last time covering a basketball game officially at Purdue was a decade ago. Things have changed quite a bit since then.
Greatly appreciated the security folk, the administrators, and all Athletic Department Personnel who helped me find my way around the media areas of Mackey Arena. Much Respect!
A Look Ahead:
This week Purdue travels up to The Barn in Minnesota on Wednesday before coming home to host Michigan on Saturday.
I hate the Barn. Hate it. Y’all know why.
Just. Keep. Winning.
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