I don't know about you, but this has been a long week as we have waited for Friday. Today will likely be even longer as we wait for 10pm to come around. Knowing our luck, the Baylor-St. Mary's game will go to five or six overtimes and we won't even get to tip before midnight. The time is here though. I am sure I am not the only one proudly wearing Purdue apparel today. I have to substitute teach today, but I'll have a Purdue shirt on anyway.
I feel like a win tonight would take us to some other level. Right now there is so much positive energy surrounding this team. I don't think I have ever seen the fanbase so hyped up. Once again, we have no chance tonight. If we somehow pull this off, Sunday becomes a No Effing Way game. By that, I meant here will be no F***ing way we lose and fall short of the Final Four. I know I have dreamed about this pretty much since the season started. It is hard to believe that in 72 hours we could be on our way to Indianapolis. It is even more astounding when you consider the journey to get there.
I have taken the theme of Just Keep Fighting since about the second half of the Texas A&M game. That is what we need to do. Duke will not fall because of one play. They will fall because of the concerted effort of this entire team. I feel like even the fans are on board at this point because we're all in this together. We have come too far to quit now. Kramer's mom, if you can get this to them you would be awesome. I don't know if the team will see this before the game, but if they do I have a message for them.
Just keep fighting.
JaJuan Johnson - Just keep fighting in the paint. They may be bigger than you, but I know you have the will to match them with your intensity. Keep battling. When that ball comes off the rim make it your sole purpose in life to go get it.
E'Twaun Moore - Just keep fighting for your shot. You're due for a big game. We all can feel it. They think they can stop you. I think you can drop 35 and have one of the all-time great tournament performances against them.
Chris Kramer - Just keep fighting, period. You are the catalyst. If you start scrapping, so will everyone else. I know you're not going to quit and that attitude needs to carry over. We need you to be you, that's all.
Keaton Grant - Just keep fighting for your shot. Keep shooting even if the first few don't fall. You're going to get your looks. You've shown us a few games of the old Keaton since Robbie went down. I can see this game being your masterpiece. They're going to sag down to protect the paint. That means you can light them up from outside.
Ryne Smith - Just keep fighting for your shot. You can do the same as Keaton. They say you have been lighting it up in practice. Duke will not respect you with the ball. Make them respect you and take the pressure off of JJ and E'Twaun.
Lewis Jackson - Just keep fighting to piss them off. Run the ball. Push the tempo. Keep looking to distribute and pick them apart. Drive to the lane and get them in foul trouble. Be a general annoyance on defense just as you were against Texas A&M.
D.J. Byrd - Just keep fighting to be Kramer 2.0. You have it in you. I loved your tip-ins vs. Texas A&M. It reminds me of how I play. I crash the offensive glass with reckless abandon. I loved the one where you came around Davis and tipped it in while he was standing there waiting for an easy board. That is how I play and it is enormously frustrating for the defense.
Kelsey Barlow - Just keep fighting to do the little things. We don't need you to score, but we need you to be a threat to score. We need you to drive and crash the glass. We need you to rebound. We need you to make smart decisions with the basketball.
Patrick Bade - Just keep fighting for the ball. Like JJ, I want you to make it your sole purpose in life to get the ball when it comes off the rim. The light is coming on for you. You're gaining confidence. Use it! Coach Painter describes you as a run, rebound, and defend guy and that is what we need. If you score some, great! If not, just run, rebound, and defend like a demon.
John Hart - Just keep fighting for your shot. You've been a little quiet lately, but we all know the Hitman can appear at any time. They won't expect much out of you just like Illinois didn't. Just be a threat to score like so many others.
Matt Painter - Just keep fighting and instill that in this team. You have done a masterful job of coaching this team through adversity. You found a way last Sunday to beat a team that I honestly didn't think we would be. You can do it again.
Purdue fans - Just keep fighting for this team. I don't know about you, but I am ready to go to war for this team. Professionally, I don't have a whole lot going for me than this blog at the moment, but since it is centered around this team it is a huge positive in an otherwise difficult time. I know others feel the same way. We're inspired by this team. They make us believe that if we keep fighting whatever we are fighting, we will prevail. To the team, just know the fans are with you. We love you guys. After Sunday's game I had to sit on my couch for a moment and gather myself because I have gotten so emotionally invested in this team. I was spent, and even a little teary that I could care about something so much and have it come through for me. Win or lose tonight, I am extremely proud of the heart this team has shown over the course of this season.
It is all about believing. As I wrote last week, we still believe for a number of reasons. Those reasons have not changed. The stakes are just a little higher this week and the opponent is a little tougher. It doesn't matter that the media calls you a Cinderella, but doesn't really believe you have a chance. We, the family and fans of this Purdue basketball team, believe in you. I am reminded of the words of Slipknot's Corey Taylor, in the pulsating intro to Pulse of the Maggots:
Cohesion is possible if we try. There's no reason. There's no lesson. No time like the present. Tell me right now. What have you got to lose? What have you got to lose except your soul? WHO'S WITH US!?!? - Corey Taylor
Let's prove them all wrong once again.
Let's fight like mad bastards.
Let's make them remember who we are.
Just keep fighting.
Just keep fighting.
JUST KEEP FIGHTING!!!!!!!!!!!