1/9/2023 Boilermaker Water Cooler Chat: Bounce Back Edition

Photo: Mark Elsner

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

In my years upon years of being a suffering Purdue fan, there have been plenty of weeks like this one. The good guys get a super high ranking, they get upset by an inferior opponent, then they take a few games off to lick their wounds.

Ok, so that is an oversimplification, but in my lengthy time of being a Purdue Boilermaker fan, I have seen this game play out over and over again. When I was in college, I was quite familiar with a hangover. To get over one it takes some hydration, some focus, and some toughness. The flip side is that nobody cares about your hangover, get up and do what you need to do.

Everyone of a certain age has their own hangover remedies. Some say a greasy egg and bacon breakfast. Others think hot-n-spicy vegetable juice. I’ve heard worcestershire sauce and bread. Pickled herring has its fandom. Hair of the dog. Glass of pickle juice. Milk thistle. Heck, my buddy swears that running a lap around Bass Lake is the best thing to do after a night of drinking. He is a maniac and I’m terrified of him. (Yes, I know that you are reading this, and yes, I am talking about you, if you had any doubt at this point.)

In sports, hangovers can happen with young teams. This Boilermaker squad, despite early success, is still quite young, and haven’t seen the heartbreak that the Rutgers loss leant them. To that point, Braden Smith and Fletcher Loyer had started every game of their college careers, and had won each of them. Rutgers happened. Now What? Are we due for a Boilermaker hangover?

The Games:

Since we covered the Rutgers loss in last week’s Water Cooler Chat, we will follow the aftermath.

#1 Purdue 71, #24 Ohio State 69

A dismal start by the Boilermakers nearly ended this one in the opening minutes, as they looked to still be feeling the affects of the previous game. A (takes off sunglasses, makes eye contact with you) hangover from Monday, if you will, had Purdue down double digits for much of the first half.

Luckily some threes started to fall, and a surge in the last part of the first half, led to Purdue coming back against a tough Bucknut squad. Zach Edey and Braden Smith led the way with 16 points, but the real heroics came from Fletcher Loyer, drilling a waning moment 3, following a clutch steal from Ethan Morton.

This game is just what the doctor ordered for the Boilermakers. We all have our little tricks to get over a hangover, and this one worked.

#1 Purdue 76, Penn State 63

Purdue went on the road for an away game a neutral site game against Penn State. The NCAA has dictated that, despite Penn State choosing the venue, playing in front of a partisan home crowd, running the PA system/Video board, and controlling all of the ticket sales, this game is technically a “neutral site” game. In today’s new fangled world, filled with computer polls and technology, this will directly affect NET ratings. Far be it for me for questioning the wisdom of the NCAA, but what do I know?

Anyways…

The pomp and circumstance of the world famous Palestra is a magical piece of Basketball history. That magic rubbed off on Penn State, as miracle shot after miracle shot got drained. Jalen Pickett , already one of the best players in the Big Ten, hit what seemed like countless spinning, fading, turn a round, drop step, double pump 3s in traffic. When he is dialed in like this, there is no stopping him. You just have to strap yourselves in and hope you survive the ride. He surpassed his season average for scoring in the first half. Seth Lundy joined Pickett’s charge, draining his own fading, spinning, circus shots throughout the contest.

Luckily wizardry wore off in the second half, as Purdue surged from a 6 point deficit to a 13 point victory. Zach Edey had 30 points and 13 rebounds. Fletcher Loyer scored 17, and Braden Smith added 15. Purdue took what was a frustrating beginning of the game, and turned it into a comfortable victory.

Break it Down:

Following the bed wetting which was the Rutgers game, beating both a ranked Ohio State and Penn State on the road away from Mackey Arena is a tremendous way to break a hangover. Both of these teams are likely NCAA tournament squads, and beating them in their chosen venues is an important step for this young squad.

What Purdue teams of the past would have done is allow things to snowball. This team isn’t allowing that. Maybe it is youthful exuberance, maybe it is moxie. Either way, this Purdue team has juevos.

What Went Well:

  • Bombs Away: Reports of the death of the Purdue Boilermaker jump shot has been highly exaggerated. The past two games the shooters found their stroke, shooting 21/49 (42.8%) from 3. That percentage will win Purdue many, many games.
  • Second Gear: Purdue in the second half the past two games has been excellent. It almost seems like the first half of each game is a “feel out” period, and the second half is time to put the game away. If Purdue puts two halves together, they will be extremely impressive.
  • Clutch: Fletcher Loyer’s clutch 3 against Ohio State will be remembered as one of the biggest shots in his career, let alone as a freshman. Likewise, Braden Smith has been playing alpha-ball lately, controlling this offense and has it spinning like a top. The combination of these two young ball players are going to bring Purdue a long, long ways.
  • EDEY, SMASH!: Zach Edey continues to do what he does. He is as efficient as it gets, pumping out double-doubles. There is a reason that he is the NPOY front runner.

Opportunities for Improvement:

  • Slow but Steady: Purdue’s slow starts against Ohio State, and to a lesser extent, Penn State can lead to problems. While the halftime deficits have been surmountable to this point, it is never good to get out to double digit deficits. Ohio State led by double digits early, and Penn State rode the momentum of improbable shooting to having a halftime lead. Purdue, you’re allowed to impose your will in the first half. Trust me, it’ll make everything much easier!

Big Man on Campus:

Fletcher Loyer has began to find his niche this week. In these past two games he has shot 7/13 (53.8%) from 3, and has averaged 14 points. Oh, he also drilled a last minute, game winning three against Ohio State which garnered national attention. Big week for the freshman!

His threat from deep is exactly what the doctor ordered, as Purdue needs as many outside threats as they can get.

A Look Ahead:

Purdue goes from playing 3 games in a week to playing only 1. The (as of the writing of this article) #1 Purdue Boilermakers host Nebraska on Friday, 1/13 at 7PM.

While the Boilers are more than likely going to lose the #1 ranking following the Rutgers loss, Purdue should be heavy favorites against the Cornhuskers. If you believe what ESPN has to say, the Boilermakers has a 92.4% chance of victory on Friday.

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 73 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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