3/20/2023 Boilermaker Water Cooler Chat: Disappointment Edition

Photo: Mark Elsner

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

In times like these, I often take a day or two to write my column, because I don’t want to say something emotionally charged and… stupid. You, my fair readers, are well aware of my stupidity, so a few days of reflection and thought may be a good thing for any reasonable message to be put forth.

Here’s what I came up with. Friday sucked.

Yep, that is the profound, Purdue universe changing proclamation that I am hanging my hat on today. Took me all weekend of pondering to conjure up that one.

Purdue made history, on Friday. The Boilermakers joined Virginia as the only team to ever lose to a 16 seed, but of course you already know that. Purdue became the only team to lose to both a 15 and a 16 in consecutive seasons… Which I am fairly certain will NEVER be topped. That sucks.

Of course, the trolls popped up immediately. The hurling of social media insults came in full force. Purdue has been force-fed crow from rival fanbases for 35 years. The Boilermakers have become a national punchline, even though they had one of the greatest regular seasons in program history. Even though they won 29 games. Even though they were ranked as #1 in the regular season for 7 weeks.

Purdue is the laughing stock of the nation because of one game.

If this is a 7 game series against FDU, Purdue wins the series 4-1. Its not a 7 game series. FDU took it to the Boilermakers.

On St. Paddy, 2023, Farleigh Dickinson University put Purdue to sleep. What was anticipated to be a celebration for the 1 seed, ended up being a nightmare. A St. Patrick’s Day massacre, turned into an Irish wake, as Purdue faithful flooded the bars, drinking green beer to numb the pain of what they just witnessed.

I sat in the press row with a few other media folk that y’all know. I was speaking to the familiar face sitting next to me, about 10 minutes through the first half. “We’re going to lose…” I said to him. He responded with raised eyebrows, and a slight head cock, conceptualizing the idea.

“They look bad right now…” he agreed.

“Still early.” We said nearly in unison.

Things didn’t get better, and as the second half ticked away, and a Purdue’s defeat went from probable to mathematical, I didn’t even flinch.

A twinge of pain crossed my psyche. It felt like a camera flash, a momentary inconvenience. Just that quick. Once that fleeting moment came and went, my brow softened, and a smile crept onto my face. At that point all I could do was laugh. Smile and laugh. Every time Purdue fans think its time, the improbable happens. When Purdue doesn’t expect it, sometimes they nearly get there. The bottom line… they’re never -there-. Eventually they will be… but we’re going to wait, and only God knows how long.

Eh, never mind the game. The Irish Whiskey that I had after at the local bar tasted great.

The Game:

#16 Farleigh Dickinson 63, #1 Purdue 58: In what would be accurately characterized as the worst game of the season, Purdue shot a miserable 35.8% from the field, and a horrific 19.2% from 3. Zach Edey did what he does, scoring a game high 21 points, and hauling in a game high 15 rebounds. Fletcher Loyer scored 13, and Mason Gillis scored 10. The Boilermakers inability to stop the FDU offense, giving up 16 turnovers to their opponent, and missing 21 three point shots… Yep. That’ll do it.

NCAA Photo Gallery by Mark Elsner: https://snapsbyme.smugmug.com/Purdue-Mens-Basketball/22-23/NCAA-Rd1-FDU/i-Z3rnPmr/A

Break It Down:

Yep, the world is laughing at Purdue again. Even with one of the best seasons in Purdue history, somehow, some way, the world is laughing at Purdue to end the season.

I absolutely hate that.

I also absolutely hate the fact that Purdue deserves every bit of heat that is coming their way.

The last few years of Purdue basketball…

  • 2023: Lost to #16 seed Farleigh Dickinson
  • 2022: Lost to #15 seed St. Peters
  • 2021: Lost to #13 seed North Texas
  • 2020: No tournament due to COVID-19
  • 2019: Lost due to an all time miraculous play in the Elite 8 to #2 seed and eventual national champion, Virginia

That is painful as all hell, folks. I’ve been a Purdue supporter for nearly 40 years, and let me tell you, that stretch is about as miserable as it can get.

What is wild about these last few years is that Purdue is reaching some of the highest success that they ever have. They reached the #1 ranking for 8 weeks over the past two seasons, something that has never happened. Purdue won their 25th Big Ten Championship, and their 2nd Big Ten Tournament Championship. Purdue garnered a one seed. The Boilers have had multiple All Americans, and an NBA Lottery Draft Pick. Just the last two years.

Purdue basketball is in the midst of one of their most successful stretches of basketball, and are simultaneously a laughing stock of the nation. It somehow fits perfectly. The duality of reality, a perfectly functional oxymoron, literal yin and yang. Perfectly balanced.

This is why I laughed while leaving the Nationwide Arena. It seemed so perfectly Purdue. This stretch of the last 3-4 years has been so perfectly, so tragically, and so realistically… “Purdue.”

I couldn’t be more proud to be a Boilermaker. I couldn’t be more proud of my Alma Mater. I am incredibly proud of these players. This institution. This University. This athletic department. This head coach. Painfully proud of all of them… but Friday still sucked.

Speaking of Coach Painter:

The Columbus Arena District bars were packed with Purdue fans. For what its worth, the Boilermaker fans were enjoying the Irish Wake of the 2022-23 season as best as they could. Most Purdue fans greeted each other with a smile on their face, cracked a joke or two… and life just kept on rolling.

I ran into a few folks on the street. After some chatting about ISC, and Purdue media in general, they asked me if my article was going to be a “Fire Matt Painter” rallying cry. I just replied, “Oh come on…”

Matt Painter is a Top 5 all time winning coach in Big Ten History. Painter just led the Boilermakers to 29 wins. A Big Ten Championship. A Big Ten Tournament Championship. A 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament… and did this while losing 2 All-Americans and 4 starters off of last year’s team. The term is rebuilding year… you might’ve heard that verbiage bandied around this season. You don’t fire someone for that resume, presuming everything is on the up and up.

“But but but but, (the theoretical fire Matt Painter crowd will shriek through teary eyes and clutched pearls) Painter teams keep getting embarrassed in the NCAA tournament! He always chokes!” you stammer over your Twitter fingers as keyboard warriors.

Matt Painter didn’t miss 21 threes against FDU. Matt Painter did not turn the ball over 16 times. Matt Painter did not miss 34 shots total. The players did. Let me be VERY CLEAR. I am not blaming the players for their efforts, for this loss. Sometimes a team shoots poorly. There is nothing that they can do about that. That’s sports. All CMP can do is put the players in position to do what is right for the game, and the players need to execute it.

Purdue missed 21 three pointers, 20 of them were probably wide open. Check out our galleries on in this article. There are threes which are so wide open that there is literally nobody in the frame other than the shooter. Purdue missed 21 of them. You can’t blame CMP for that.

Photo: Mark Elsner

Is Painter infallible? Absolutely not. Matt Painter is one of the best coaches in the nation, but has shown very little willingness to adjust what Purdue does in the face of a counter punch. Painter recruits a certain type. A strong, dominant big man who might struggle against guarding away from the hoop. Painter recruits intelligent, heady guards, who produce, but may not be as dominant of an athlete as his opponents.

Matt Painter needs to adjust, in order to fare well against non-Big 10 foes. Zach Edey is a tremendous punch down low. Somehow, Purdue needs to be comfortable playing against small ball. Perhaps more sets to get the ball moving downhill towards the hoop can help. Maybe throwing out a momentary zone (GASP!) when your opponent is going 5 out will help? I don’t know the answers… because I am just a guy who writes about sports. You don’t know the answers, because you are just a twitter-er or facebook guy who posts your opinion.

Good for you, have an opinion. Opinions are like rear-ends… most of them stink. Especially the opinions of these keyboard warriors on #Purdue Twitter and Facebook. Purdue fans are toxic online, and not nearly as intelligent as the blowhards think they are.

A Look Ahead:

Purdue has to lick their wounds for the entire offseason. They will be mocked mercilessly. They earned every sentence of that mockery. It will be interesting to see how this team responds in November.

Luckily, on the recruiting side of things, some freak athletes are in the pipeline, so that can only help. Likewise, Purdue only loses 1 player due to eligibility, as David Jenkins Jr. has exhausted his eligibility. Thank you DJJ for everything you did this season!

The elephant in the room is what will happen with Zach Edey? Will he return, or will he move on to the NBA? Is returning for a senior year what’s best for Zach, taking into account the physicality that happens throughout a Big Ten Season? Is it worth him getting climbed on, hooked & held, and generally being poorly officiated for 20+ games a season? Is the injury risk worth it?

We’ll see, but Zach Edey’s decision will be a big deal for Purdue in the off season. Purdue can return the main core of this team, with everyone being one year older. Willie Berg will join the fold, as a 7’2″ with the ability to stretch as a 5. Camden Heide will bring further athleticism into the rotation, as both he and Berg are coming of of redshirt. Coming in as a Freshman is Myles Colvin, son of Purdue football great Roosevelt Colvin, who will bring explosiveness as a SF.

While this season ended in disappointment, the future is very bright for this program. We’ll see how the transfer portal works out for Purdue, but I am looking forward to many years of entertainment and competitiveness for our Boilermakers.

Thank You, Purdue Nation:

This will mark my last regularly scheduled column for the 2022-2023 sports calendar. While I was hoping this article would be in April, who knows… in 2024 it may be!

I want to thank all of my readers. I want to thank all of our followers. I want to thank the Purdue Athletic Department. I want to thank my wife who allows me to fit my Purdue writing with my day job, my other media jobs, with my fatherly duties, and for monopolizing the television a few times a week from September through March.

Most of all, I want to thank the Purdue coaches and student athletes who pour their heart and soul out there for the sake of our entertainment. Without you folks, none of this happens. Thank you.

Until football season, Ben Kolodzinski, signing out!

Boiler Up, Hammer Down. Ever Grateful, Ever True. God Bless.

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 93 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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