12/6/2021 Boilermaker Water Cooler Chat: Ascension Edition

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

It was genetics, I guess, but I had no choice in whether or not I became a Purdue fan. I am a fourth generation Purdue student… from the turn of the century onward.

I sit here, aggressively sliding into my late 30s (although a lifetime of hard living and football injuries make me feel 20 years older at times). I have arthritis, gray hairs, a mortgage, lower back pain, opinions on tax rates, a bedtime before 10pm, and a strange confusion on the latest pop culture references. I am officially my parents age when I was young, hip, and with it.

I’ve watched Purdue sports my entire life. My parents? They’ve watched Purdue sports their entire lives. My Grandfater? Yeah. Class of 50. He followed the Boilers his whole life. Great Grandfather? Yeah, Boilermaker.

In the timeframe of my bloodline’s Purdue influence, there has been

  • Two world wars
  • Invention of flight
  • The first mass produced automobiles in the United States
  • Betty White was born and continues to live
  • Sliced bread was invented
  • Television was invented.
  • 5 States have been added
  • United States women’s sufferage
  • Man walked on the moon
  • Purdue is in their 124th baketball season.
  • 24 Big Ten Titles have been claimed

Those are just some of the high points. In the 120 some odd years my family has been Purdue fans, there has been a lot of history made in this world.

One thing that my great grandfater never saw, my grandfather didn’t get the opportunity to see, my parents never saw, my siblings and I haven’t witnessed… is the elusive number one ranking. Boilers are about to make history.

Photo: Mark Elsner

The Games:

There really isn’t much of a necessity to go over each game, y’all watched them anyway. The bottom line is Purdue went undefeated on the week, throttling Florida State 93-65, and holding on against Iowa 77-70.

Both of these games were in a hostile Mackey Arena, and both of these games saw huge leads built by Purdue. The Iowa game, however, saw a surge of a comeback leading towards a tight game at the end.

While despite some struggles, Purdue continues to be undefeated on the season, at a perfect 8-0. Ranked #2 last week, the #1 ranked Duke team lost, leaving the logical next step for Purdue to be ranked top dog in the nation. Purdue basketball history is on the horizon, and should arrive Monday afternoon.

Photo: Mark Elsner

What Went Well:

  • Balance Balance Balance: At any given point, Purdue has 10 players who can not only play, but who can go for double digits. Four players average double figure scoring (Ivey, Edey, Williams, Stefanovic), and three more average within a bucket of double digits (Newman, Furst, Thompson). That balance can step up when things get dicey, giving fresh legs and a plethora of weapons.
  • Attack the boards: Purdue out rebounded Florida State 36-25, and they outrebounded Iowa 42-30. Particularly against Iowa, to secure possession of the ball was imperative as the game got tight late. Purdue, this week, got 58% of the rebounds. That is 8% more possessions for the good guys than their foes.
  • Mental Toughness: In years past, when a team like Iowa was making a run against the Boilermakers, Purdue would often fold. The game was collapsing around them, and Purdue was turning the ball over left and right. When the goin’ gets tough, the tough get goin’. While the starting 5 has been fluid this year, the group that closed the game against Iowa was Ivey, Stefanovic, Hunter, Williams, and Gillis. That’s right, folks, the starting 5 for a huge part of last season. Not to say that Coach Painter doesn’t trust the other players, but in the first struggle of the year, those are the 5 that he leaned on.
  • Holy Mackey, Batman!: Mackey Arena continues to be the greatest place on earth. The nasty atmosphere is a tremendous advantage for the Boilers, and must be terrifying to opponents.
Photo: Mark Elsner

Opportunities of Improvement:

  • Clutching my chest…: If you turn the ball over 17 times, you deserve to lose. To say that Purdue struggled against Iowa’s half court trap is an understatement, and repeated turnovers allowed the Hawkeyes to chop away at a huge lead. Now these turnovers are credited to the guards handling the ball, but they can just as easily be credited to the other 4 players on the court not presenting themselves in the press break. To this point Purdue is averaging 13 turnovers per game this season. Luckily, however, learning a lesson from a tense win is better than learning from an embarrassing loss. Coach Painter has some work to do straightening this out.
  • Calm down, fellas…: The Boilermakers seemed to clam up against Iowa. Even before the insane comeback, Purdue never really put the Hawkeyes away when they had a chance. Poor passes and uncharacteristic missed shots happen, but when the lights are on you need to be sharp. Perhaps it was the gravity of the situation, or the excitement of the atmosphere, but at least the nerves were shaken before the game went final.
  • The only thing predictable…: About B1G officiating is that they are going to be awful. Against Iowa there were touch fouls called in some circumstances, and complete haymakers missed at later times. Edey was fouled repeatedly in the first half, and in fairness many were called. Like George Karlaftis being held in football, Edey was getting fouled on EVERY possession. Iowa players, as the game went on, were literally chopblocking Purdue players, particularly Isiah Thompson who got injured on a hard foul. The officials allowed these nasty fouls to repeat, spurred on by Mt. Mcaffery’s petulant attitude on the sideline. Eventually a player got hurt. Purdue’s starting point guard, and one of the most efficient players on the roster, had to miss the majority of the second half. Thompson is the press breaker, and his injury played right into the hands of the Hawkeyes. The game changed when Iowa chopped him down.
Photo: Mark Elsner

Big Man on Campus:

Jaden Ivey is an incredible ball player. His athleticism is allowing him to take over the games and (literally and figuratively) flex his muscle during these contests. Whether he is garnering rebounds, playing good defense, or electrifying the crowd with a highlight dunk, Ivey is what is powering this team early. This week he averaged 18.5 pts, 1.5 steals, and 4 rebounds, shining against some stiff competition.

Photo: Mark Elsner

Football News:

We now know the Purdue bowl destination, and Purdue will travel to Nashville to play in the Music City Bowl on December 30th. This is the second first time Purdue will ever play in the Music City Bowl. I vaguely remember Purdue qualifying for the Music City Bowl a few years back, but for some reason the game was never played. It never happened. I just remember the pregame ceremonies and the next thing I remember was New Years eve. Strange. Anyone else experience a similar phenomenon? Anyways…

Purdue will take on the Tennessee Volunteers, who have proven to have the most well adjusted fans in all of the NCAA, in their own back yards. Essentially, Purdue will be playing an away game against an SEC team, which is nice!

A Look Ahead:

The presumptive (as of the writing of this article) #1 team in NCAA Men’s Basketball, will be experiencing an East Coast roadtrip this week. First, Purdue will travel to New Jersey to take on Rutgers on 12/9, and then travel to Brooklyn to take on North Carolina State on 12/12.

Purdue should be prohibitive favorites for each game, however, the travel, followed by two quick succession games can grind on a team.

Hopefully the Boilermakers learn from their mistakes against Iowa, and continue to improve! Boiler Up!

Iowa Photo Gallery: https://snapsbyme.smugmug.com/Purdue-Mens-Basketball-19-20/21-22/Iowa/

FSU Photo Gallery: https://snapsbyme.smugmug.com/Purdue-Mens-Basketball-19-20/21-22/FloridaState/

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 51 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. 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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