Hello, and welcome to the Purdue Optimist Club! My name is Jordan, and I will be your captain on this fantastic journey of sights and sounds in the world of Purdue Basketball. Namely, I will show you (in an epic episodic format) why you should be optimistic about out basketball program. The need for this editorial is great: after the upsetting re-injury to our Great White Hope, the "most anticipated season in Purdue Basketball history" was immediately dismissed as a complete and utter failure. The ship had sunk in more dramatic fashion than the Titanic before it had even set sail. However, I saw the silver lining of Robbie's depressing situation, and I will effort to share those with you, just as I will with every other aspect of the Boilermakers' game.
All of this Purduey Goodness after the jump.
I don't want to dwell on that which depresses nearly every person that likes Purdue and Basketball, but I want to voice my one optimistic point concerning Robbie's injury: The guys will no longer play with a target on their back. To some, this team was the presumptive National Champion.. much like Kentucky, Kansas, and the gang were at this time last year. Additionally, I've never thought our basketball team has played up to the hype that people put behind them. This season scared me, frankly, because "potential" is perhaps the most dangerous keyword in sports, especially when talking about the highest prize in a sport. This season, we can play stifling, tough, Purdue Basketball without worrying about what the national media says, thinks, or sees. And for this, I am grateful.
Let's move on to the exhibition games.
I was responsible for the first game's wrap-up report, which you can refer to here. I want to hit on a few points of the second game and move on to some general thoughts going into the season opener.
- Starting Lineup (JaJuan Johnson, Patrick Bade, E'Twaun Moore, Ryne Smith, Kelsey Barlow): Interesting to throw Barlow in there. I'm assuming this is an insurance policy against a possible LewJack injury. Additionally, I was hoping the start would give Kelsey a measure of confidence following a lackluster performance the week before.
- Shootin' Early, Often: We came out in the first four minutes with our hair on fire, shooting a-plenty. The shot selection wasn't the greatest, but you have to take shots to make shots. It took a little while for 3'Twaun to warm up, and JJ was fractions of an inch off all night long, similar to a few games last year, so there's not a whole lot of concern there.
- GREAT Passing Into the Lane: I was blown away by many players on the court passing the ball into the lane in transition and during half-court play. This might have been the highlight of the night for me, as a student and thriving on big plays and momentum.
- Free Throw Rebounding: Are you kidding me? I haven't seen any team get after boards following the charity stripe like the boys did last night. Granted, we had a huge size advantage and didn't make much from the line itself, but if we can keep getting boards like that I'm gonna giggle like a little kid all night long. Also, I want another one of these.
- Decision-Making: I can't remember any specific examples where this was especially impressive, but I recall thinking that I liked what the young guys were doing with the basketball. DJ's shot selection looked great, and he knew when to dump the rock after he started attracting more attention.
- Lewis Jackson: The little man made it look easy down low. The number of times he drove the lane, weaving between defenders a head taller than him or more, was a treat to watch. It's great to have a true point with scoring and press-breaking ability.
- Terone Johnson: Shooting, passing, driving, getting to the line... he did it all. Particularly, I was very impressed with his ability to shoot the ball and the way he looked from a maturity standpoint. The guy looked like a Big10 veteran out there. I'm excited about where he and his fellow freshman Johnson will take us this year.
Overall, it was a solid defensive showing from the Boilers who were trying to handle a very handsy Midwestern State team that was fouling often enough that momentum was not a factor. It was a painful game to endure as a spectator, but I'm in the camp that it did a lot for our team. There's a lot to learn from our opponent who reminded me of a pestering conference opponent. The game also showed some places where the Boilers can improve, and I would rather they play their best at the end of the year than during exhibition season.
All-told, I think there is a lot to be excited about going into the opener. Thanks for reading, and we'll see you next time!
P.S. A very big thank you to all the Servicemen and Women out in Boiler land and around the country. Thank you for everything you do to keep us safe and worry-free.
Be a Hero. Be a Legend. Be a Boilermaker.