This was a rough, rough year for Purdue sports, at least in terms of the marquee ones. After the football played in a bowl game, the basketball team made the NCAA Tournament, and the baseball team made the NCAA Tournament in 2012, 2013 was a virtual disaster as all three sports fell hard. Matters were made worse with Notre Dame playing for a national championship in football to start the year and Indiana being ranked No. 1 in basketball before reaching the College World Series in baseball.
It is hard to find some positives when the money programs were struggling so much, but there were a few. Here are the top 10 stories from the past year, with a poll for you guys to decide what was No. 1.
Volleyball reaches Elite 8 of the NCAA Tournament - Though it ended almost exactly like the basketball team's last Elite 8 run in 2000, with a loss to Wisconsin, the volleyball Boilers showed just how rugged the Big Ten really is with great run in the postseason. Purdue entered the tournament with a pedestrian 20-11 overall record and was only 11-9 in the Big Ten, but swept 29-4 Central Arkansas 3-0 in the first match. Purdue pulled off a huge upset of No. 4 national seed Missouri on the Tigers' home floor in round two. Mizzou entered the Tournament as the only undefeated team in the country at 35-0 and had dropped just eight sets all year, but Purdue won 3-1 to return to the Sweet 16.
Once in the Sweet 16 Purdue beat another team on its home floor as they swept Illinois 3-0 in Champaign. The momentum could not last, however, as Wisconsin beat Purdue 3-1 after the match was tied 1-1. had a close opening set gone different Purdue would have held a 2-0 lead going into set 3, but after splitting the season series with Wisconsin the Badgers held the edge.
Bryson Scott and Basil Smotherman named Indiana All-Stars - Yes, it was before their official time as Boilermakers, but we saw some of the promise they have shown on the court this winter in 13 games when both incoming freshmen were named to the Indiana All-Star team. Scott finished his high school career with over 2,000 points and is one of the top 40 scorers in state history. Smotherman played for a solid Lawrence North team that played some of the top teams in the state. I was able to interview both players back in late February and after reading these interviews again I am not surprised they are already making an impact on Boilermaker basketball.
Purdue women's basketball wins ninth Big Ten Tournament - They really should just call it the Boilermaker Invitational at this point because Purdue is by far the best team in the women's Big Ten Basketball tournament. In the 19 times the tournament has been held Purdue has won nine times and played in the final four additional times. This year Purdue beat Michigan State 62-47 in the final before reaching the second round of the NCAA Tournament.
Alexander Field Opens - Although Purdue was a dismal 1-11 at home in Big Ten play, the baseball program was finally able to move into a first class facility in March after several delays. The opening was supposed to occur a year earlier and would have allowed Purdue to host its 2012 regional on campus, but the new Alexander Field is a beautiful facility that will hopefully insure there will not be 103 years before another Big Ten title.
Casey Matthews Wins NCAA Diving Championship - Purdue is randomly a Mecca for college diving, and junior diver Casey Matthews won the women's 3-meter springboard NCAA championship in March. She will look to defend her title and add a 1-meter championship in 2014.
Transfers, transfers, transfers - It certainly does not qualify as good news, but four players on last season's men's basketball roster left the program with eligibility remaining. Only one, Sandi Marcius, left as a graduate transfer, as he is playing his final season at DePaul. Anthony Johnson and Jacob Lawson are sitting this year out after moving on to Northern Illinois and Appalachian State, respectively. Finally, Donnie Hale surprised many by leaving just days before practice started. He is playing this year at Division II Bellarmine in Louisville.
Kawann Short drafted by Panthers - Just about the only good football news this year was Kawann Short, who was a second round NFL draft selection and has played well on a solid Carolina defense so far. He has a 29 tackles and 1.5 sacks with a forced fumble and a fumble recovery as Carolina is a win away from a surprising NFC South title.
Purdue sent to West Division - The addition of Rutgers and Maryland to the Big Ten meant some divisional shifting in football. For Purdue, it worked out well, at least on paper. Instead of being placed in a division with Michigan, Ohio State, and Penn State the Boilers now know they can dodge those heavyweights for years at a time. The Boilers will be in the West Division of the Big Ten with Wisconsin, Nebraska, Minnesota, Illinois, Northwestern, and Iowa. Those are six teams Purdue has historically fared well against with only Wisconsin in the past 10 years being truly dominant against us over time.
Football series with Notre Dame ends - Purdue and Notre Dame have played every season in football since 1946, but the 2014 game in Lucas Oil Stadium will be the last as the teams will take a six year break. Like it or not, the changing nature of college football (ND's ACC commitments, Purdue's 9-game Big Ten schedule) have put the series in jeopardy. Purdue and ND have managed to schedule a few more games in the next decade, but the 2015 season will be the first in almost 70 years where the Boilers and Fighting Irish will not play.
Women's Golf finishes Third at NCAA championships - The women's golf program continues to do well as the only "northern" school to legitimately challenge for a national title. At the NCAA championships Purdue was in the hunt before a rough finish combined with a solid day by USC led to a third place finish. It was the fourth straight top 5 finish for women's golf, and Paula Reto finished third individually.
Honorable Mention: Robbie Hummel make NBA debut, Basketball plays in CBI, Women's Tennis reaches NCAA Tournament Second Round, Matthew McClintock named first Corss Country All-American in 25 years, Football has longest losing streak in 105 years.