12/18/2023 Boilermaker Water Cooler Chat: Boiled Wildcat Edition

Photo: Mark Elsner

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

When I was younger, and much more fun, I used to go to a lot of rock concerts. I love them. There’s electricity in the air, you can feel the energy, and for a few hours you get lost in a series of moments.

My favorite act to catch is Alice Cooper. If you know me, it shouldn’t be any surprise to you that I have seen Alice 8 times. I’ve seen The Rolling Stones, Aerosmith, Lenny Kravitz, Dierks Bently, Big N Rich, Mumford and Sons, The Fray, the Newsboys, even the Village People… the list continues. I had a serious addiction of going to these shows.

Now, I am older and my bedtime is earlier. The most recent major rock concert I went to was Mumford and Sons a few years back. While not necessarily my favorite band, my wife loves them, and the show was really nice.

Something I noticed, however, was that during the show, there were thousands of people recording the event on their smart phones. People next to us were taking a ton of pictures, finding the perfect angle to get that Instagram worthy selfie. Retaking the same picture. On and on and on.

These people were not lost in the moment. They were not feeling what was happening right in front of them. They were too preoccupied to feel the energy in the room.

Now, I am not free of sin. I have done this before as well. However, as I am getting more and more gray hairs, I have to remind myself to stop. Look around the room. Feel it.

Some Purdue fans are still preoccupying themselves. Some Purdue fans love being miserable. Some Purdue fans will nitpick every small thing during a victory. Some Purdue fans will melt down to the point of firing their coach following an overtime loss.

Purdue only played one game this week. It was a pretty big one, too. It was an incredibly entertaining contest, pitting two of the best teams in the nation. Purdue controlled the majority of the game. It was a perfect Saturday.

Those concert goers who willingly distract themselves are missing out on the the moment. They are losing the rhythm. I hope Purdue fan’s aren’t missing the show that is going on in front of them. There is something special happening, in front of our eyes. Enjoy it.

The Game:

The #3 Purdue Boilermakers took on the #1 Arizona Wildcats in Gainbridge Fieldhouse, home of the Indiana Pacers. A feverish start gave way to Purdue flexing their muscle, taking a commanding lead. A strong push by the Wildcats coincided with a Purdue drought, but the Boilers recovered. In the end #3 defeated #1 92-84, yet another incredible performance by your Boilermakers.

This game was dominated by the two Purdue guards of Fletcher Loyer and Braden Smith. The national media pundits, the talking head types, said that Arizona would dominate the game from the backcourt. Nah.

Fletcher Loyer was incredible, scoring 27 points, 4 steals, and 3 assists, making 5 three pointers. Braden Smith equally as impressive, scoring 26 points, 3 steals, and 4 assists. Reigning NPOY Zach Edey didn’t have his greatest game, scoring 22 points and 9 rebounds.

Break It Down:

The whole sporting world told us that the Boilermakers were going to get their rears handed to them. Arizona’s guards are way too athletic. They can match up with Zach Edey one on one. The entire paper matchup was Arizona’s to win.

Make no mistake. Arizona is an incredible team, and I believed the hype. I left this game still believing in Arizona’s hype. But… Let me tell you something, brother, ya’ll better start listening to the Purdue hype, because Boiler Mania ran wild on Saturday.

Purdue actually controlled this game for the vast majority. The Boilermakers dictated the game, and out Arizona’ed Arizona. Purdue was a 2 point dog coming into the game. The Boilers were up 17 (technically) 15 midway through the second half. They weathered Arizona’s inevitable run. Then stretched the lead back to double digits with just a few minutes to go.

Teams don’t do this to Arizona. Pay attention, folks. Arizona could very well be the national champions come March/April. Purdue controlled them for 30 minutes of game time.

Unathletic, overrated, boring, Purdue. Hyper athletic, best in the nation, super exciting, Arizona. A bunch of 3* players laid it on a bunch of 5* players. Pay attention, folks.

What Went Well:

  • 53: Points from the supposedly overmatched Purdue backcourt. Loyer and Smith brought it, and give Purdue another dynamic which makes them even more dangerous.
  • 32>26: Rebounds. The Boilermakers and the Wildcats are two of the best rebounding teams in the nation. While there weren’t many missed shots, it seemed, Purdue grabbed more of them than Arizona. An impressive feat against the incredible athletes of the #1 team in the nation.
  • 41.7%: Shooting from three, making 10 of 24 attempts. I did not see this coming, for various reasons. Shooting like this will win Purdue a lot of games going forward.

Purdue-Arizona Photo Gallery by Mark Elsner: https://snapsbyme.smugmug.com/Purdue-Mens-Basketball/23-24/ArizonaIndyClassic/

Opportunities for Improvement:

  • 63.2%: Free throw shooting. Boilers missed 7 of their 19 attempts.
  • Zone Offense: Was a little big herky-jerky at times. Purdue went on a significant scoring drought against a previously unseen zone defense from Arizona. This led to a 11-0 run for the visitors, and cut a potential blowout down to a tight game.
  • Peacock: The plume was not very impressive for this game. In what is probably one of the biggest live sporting events in Peacock’s young history, there were some horrible mistakes. For the first part of the game there was no shot clock shown on screen. Occasionally the score was incorrect. For the ENTIRETY of the game the foul totals were incorrect. Pretty disappointing stuff. When I was an intern at my local TV station as a sophomore in college, I was in charge of updating the live scoreboard for our broadcasts. It isn’t that hard.

Lets Talk About Balls:

The game on Saturday was played with the dreaded Wilson EVO ball. The ball is tacky, behaves different on a roll, and has a propensity to get wedged in the hoop during live gameplay. While widely regarded as an undesirable ball by the majority of the NCAA community, it just so happens to be the ball used for the official NCAA tournament. Not great for Purdue, who tends to play poorly with it.

Coming into the game Purdue was shooting 23.5% in 9 games using this ball over the past 2 seasons. This game, Purdue shot 41.7%, a massive increase from their historic average.

Many folks online are saying that the “curse” of the Wilson EVO ball is over! Its dead! Vanquished. Calm down, folks, that is not how statistics work. One data point does not cancel out 9 others.

What we can confirm is, that Fletcher Loyer has shown the greatest increase in percentages shooting with the Wilson Ball. In 2022-23 (8 games) he shot 7/33 (21.2%). In 2023-2024 (2 games) he has shot 8/14 (57.1%). Not only is this a huge increase, but he has already surpassed the 7 makes from last season in just 2 games.

One game does not make a trend for the team as a whole, but it is encouraging to see that Boilermakers excel using this calamity of a basketball.

A Look Ahead:

The #3 Purdue Boilermakers will undoubtedly raise in the rankings after defeating the #1 team in the nation. The #2 team, the Kansas Jayhawks, needed a nearly miraculous comeback struggled mightily against the Indiana Hoosiers, but did pull out a last minute win on the road.

If the AP votes based on resume, then Purdue would theoretically jump Kansas for the #1 spot. However, Kansas did win. It will be interesting this afternoon how the pollsters vote.

As for the action on the court, the Boilermakers will hopefully continue their winning ways, hosting Jacksonville on Thursday 12/21. Purdue should be able to defeat Jacksonville fairly easily. Also, of note, I will be in attendance as a fan, so if you see me, please say Hi!

Exciting times to be a Boilermaker, my friends! Enjoy it!

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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