8-0 is 8-0. I think we are all very pleased with that result so far. With the exception of the South Dakota State game, we have dominated every "lesser opponent" and never let them hang around for a potential upset. Cal State Northridge, Central Michigan, Buffalo, and Valparaiso never had a chance with the way we started. We have reserved our slower starts for some of the bigger games (Wake, St. Joseph's) but have recovered quickly.
Maybe I had a small part in this. I questioned JJ, Robbie, and E'Twaun after the Wake Forest game about being a second half team. Since then, we have rocked opponents with dominant first halves. Maybe they took my question personally and have decided to make a concerted effort to start games better. Then again, maybe we're simply that much better than Buffalo and Valparaiso. It is probably the latter, but we'll see what happens against Alabama.
Ultimately, that is the story of this game. We played a team that we should dominate and did exactly that. Remember two years ago when we struggled with teams like Indiana State and even lost at home to Wofford? Those days seem like the distant past right now. We have come to expect easy games against lesser competition. That is a very good place to be in. Any game in which we get a Walk-on Whiteout near the end (Bubba Day, Stevie Loveless, Kyle Coleman, Dru Anthrop, and Mark Wohlford. Think about it) is a good day.
Positives from the Valpo game:
Defense on Brandon Wood - I totally forgot to mention this in the preview, but seeing Chris Kramer play against Wood was impressive. Some might think it was a case of him playing good defense against a great scorer. The thing is, Kramer is familiar with Wood. Huntington North and Kokomo are both North Central Conference opponents. Kramer's Vikings played Wood's Wildkats when Wood was a sophomore and junior. Kramer got the better of Wood both times then, and he had him last night by forcing him into four turnovers. Wood did most of his scoring very late when the game was already decided and Kramer was on the bench.
Robbie and E'Twaun from deep - They got it going early and often, finishing a combined 8 of 9 from the field. I got to see Robbie's first three and once he splashed it you could almost see the light go back on for him as he ran back up the court. He had the look of, "there it is!" in regards to finding his shot.
Keaton Grant's health - Keaton showed the knee is just fine with a great burst for a breakaway dunk in the first half. It was amazing to see him pull away from the defender like that. We need to get him involved a little more in the offense, but I am confident that his experience and leadership will come around in Big Ten play.
Offensive balance - JJ gave us 19 and 8 without really having to try that much. E'Twaun had 19 and shot 70% from the field. Hummel had 15 and hit all his threes. Keaton had 10. Kramer even had nine and six assists. As a team we shot 53% from the field with extensive time for the freshmen and subs. We were better than 45% from long range and almost 80% from the line. If we can consistently get those numbers from our starters we will win a lot of games. It shows that every single player, even Kramer, is an offensive threat. Kramer is a bit like me with his jumper. He is deadly when left open from 15-18 feet. If he steps out to 3-point land the accuracy goes away.
Negatives from the Valpo game:
Robbie Hummel's near injury - I don't think I am alone when I say that I nearly crapped myself when Robbie went up for a late second half rebound only to have his legs cut from under him and land on his spine. I am only 30 and shouldn't have that feeling for about 60 more years minimum. Evan Turner's injury is way too fresh in our minds, as is Robbie's from last year.
Here are some odds and ends I have found lately that weren't quite enough for a full Boilermakings, but they need to be mentioned:
Lost Letterman interview with Walter Jordan - This is a pretty good podcast with the former Boiler.
Cuanzo Martin off to a 7-0 start - Screw other coaches and their coaching trees. Gene Keady is the Godfather of undefeated teams!
Ladies lose Big Ten opener to Northwestern - This team is just decimated by injuries this year. Looks like the NCAA streak is in serious jeopardy.
Brees on Leno - Our favorite quarterback was awesome last night.
Curtis Painter now 2nd string behind Peyton Manning - I mentioned this one yesterday, but it will be good to see him get some regular season reps after the Colts clinch everything. He won't get a start barring an absolute disaster that would cause rioting in the streets of Indianapolis (Manning getting hurt), but he will add to the Cradle of Quarterbacks title. If not for the Brandons (Kirsch and Hance) we would have a Michigan-like streak of consecutive starting QB's that played in the NFL. Will Elliott join that group?
If he does start I had better get my shotgun from my dad's house and some canned goods.