Your weekly Purdue Men’s Basketball snark, and other snidbits from around the Boilermaker Universe
I have done some pretty cool things in the last fifteen or so years working in media. I have met plenty of influential people. Interviewed executive branch politicians, and been on the cutting edge of national news stories. In the news room, I have seen some things. Excitement happens.
What got me into the business, however, was my love for sports. Sure, I wanted to be a journalist, breaking the news stories on TV… but sports reporting caught my eye early.
Being a wide eyed kid growing up in Northwest Indiana, I spent many a day watching some of the personalities in my great state. I spent hours watching WYIN (Channel 56) LakeShorePTV growing up. Out of Merrillville IN, this station impacted my life more so than anyone will ever know. Back then they played Purdue related programming. They were our local media hookup before the Big Ten Networks, FS1s, and ESPNs of the world could show us every sporting event every night. It was watching WYIN where I encountered the two media personalities that impacted my future in the business.
Probably the most influential person to light my sports reporting fuse is a man named Joe Arredondo. People in NWI know the name, as he is a legend in The Region. He is an award winning sports reporter, and has highlighted regional prep sports for decades around the area. Joe had covered the successful football teams that I played on in the early 2000s. The “Prep Football Report” was must watch program for thousands of kids and families in Northwest Indiana. I asked Joe for an internship in 2006, as I was a Communication student at Purdue. Despite being an IU alumni himself (we wont hold that against him, he’s the man!), Joe took a chance on me. Either I successfully pulled the wool over his eyes, or he saw something in me, but I have been working alongside Joe for going on 15 years. I am honored to call him a friend.
I wouldn’t be here, helping produce the very television show that I was once a subject on, if it wasn’t for Joe. I wouldn’t be writing for a USA Today sports blog. I wouldn’t be a radio personality. I wouldn’t have the opportunity to sit in the press box at Ross Ade or Mackey Arena. Joe gave me that boost that I needed.
Prior to Joe’s influence, however, there was another personality that piqued my interest. A young, mustacio’ed television host, with a voice like broken-in leather, provided me every bit of Purdue information that I could ever have dreamt of. Years prior to the internet, Larry Clisby was the Purdue go-to for young fans state wide.
I grew up in a lovely older former farm house in Valparaiso. My first steps were to a Purdue mini-basketball. I used to pretend to be Matt Waddell in my driveway while shooting hoops. I watched VHS tapes (hell, it could’ve been Betamax) of the weekly Coach’s show. Larry Clisby was out there raining truths feeding me the Purdue information that I needed.
I’ve been on earth for 36-ish years. Larry was a Purdue mainstay for 40 years. My entire life. When I imagine Purdue University, his “bullseye” call is on the soundtrack along side the roar of Mackey Arena, The All American Marching Band, the Bell Tower, and the cacophony of Harrys on a Friday night.
I grew up with Larry Clisby as my hero. I knew that I wanted to be him. As years went on, I continued to relish the opportunity to listen to Cliz on the radio. Something about his call felt like home, felt nostalgic. It was so much more than that. Larry was so good. Absolutely the best in the business. The inflection, the tone, the smooth delivery… music. Incredible talent.
As Larry’s health started to decline the last few years, I had the opportunity to meet him. I am blessed to get to know his wife Michelle, as she is a reader of our blog. Wonderful woman. After the Northwestern game in December 2019, Michelle introduced me to the legend himself following the Boilermaker victory. He was so kind, so open to meeting my son and I. Although it was a few moments, a handful of minutes, Larry was gracious to my boy and I. He was exhausted, but made time for us. I got to meet my broadcasting hero.
Talking to people who I know that have been in or around the Purdue program, they always described Cliz as a walking legend. A wonderful human, incredibly intelligent, gregarious, funny, and one of a kind.
As we know, Larry Clisby lost his fight with lung and brain cancer on Saturday morning. He was my broadcasting hero. He is a Boilermaker.
Purdue put everything together controlled the Penn State Nittany Lions pretty much from wire to wire as Purdue wins 73-52. This was a game that felt like a 40 point victory crammed into a 21 pt difference.
Sasha Stefanovic led the way with 16 points. Ivey filled up the stat sheet with 14 points, 5 rebounds, 4 blocks, and 3 steals. Tevion Williams and Eric Hunter added 11 and 10 respectively to round off the Boilers who scored in double digits.
What Went Well:
- Welcome Back: Sasha Splashanovic. Although he only hit 2 three pointers, he forced the issue by taking the ball to the hole. When fouled he hit his freebies. This is the leader that Purdue has grown to love.
- Wheels Up: Aaron Wheeler is graded on the metric of scoring totals, but I believe that is unfair. This young man scored 5 points, even hitting a 3 in the game, but his story is beyond points. He notched 7 rebounds and garnered 3 assists. Wheeler impacted this game far more than the numbers would tell you.
- Poison Ivey: Jaden Ivey is absolutely spectacular. Stop saying that he is a star in the making, he is currently a star.
Opportunities for Improvement:
- I mean, there are always opportunities for improvement, but… why nitpick? Keep doing this.
Big Man On Campus:
Larry Clisby. Thank you for everything Cliz.
A Look Ahead:
This article is written on Sunday night, well before the announcing of the new rankings. I would imagine that Purdue would re-enter the top 25 this week. If not? Feel free to tell me that I was wrong.
If Purdue wins out, they will slide into the 4th spot in the B1G Tournament, holding on to the coveted double bye which is invaluable to winning a tournament championship.
Purdue seems to be hitting on all cylinders on the hardwood. If they keep their head on straight, stay focused, and approach the rest of this season like a business trip… These young men can do something special. This is the time of the year where the slightest slip ups can end your season. Boilers need to be strong, sharp, and focused.
Purdue will play every remaining game of the 2020-21 season in the state of Indiana. On 3/2 Purdue hosts Wisconsin, in a late game slated for a 9PM tip. The Boilers follow that up with a game against the Hoosiers, in Mackey Arena, on Saturday 3/6.
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