Let’s recap part one. Some weird things happened. Really weird. Robbie Hummel predicted that we would play Kansas in the Sweet 16 of 2017. He was right.
Coach Painter told me that Robbie also predicted, he would recruit a point guard with too much sauce. This also (according to Ronnie) did happen.
I asked Robbie a plethora of questions, he evaded them all.
But let’s take a detour before we get to the present day, the week of the Sweet 16.
The Dark Ages, happened. Robbie predicted a point guard with too much sauce. He did not predict to me or Coach Painter the misery that ensued of back to back losing seasons.
Let’s rewind. The 2011-2012 season ended in a heart break loss to Kansas, who only lead for 23 seconds of the game.
We lose Robbie. We lose Lewis Jackson. We lose the sharpshooting Ryne Smith.
It was time to reload. We did just that.
Coach Painter snagged 3 four star recruits, all 3 from the state of Indiana. Also, a 3 star forward to pair with AJ Hammons in the post.
A.J. Hammons, Ronnie Johnson, Ray Davis, Jay Simpson. What a promising class it was.
Only 2 of the 4 would finish their Purdue careers.
(Note: Jay Simpson is excluded from the Dark Ages argument because of heart condition.)
We had little scoring. Little to none. A clogged toilet offense. Halfway through the season, you could tell the tournament wasn’t in reach this year.
I asked Coach Painter in an interview, after the blow out loss we took from Indiana “Coach, I know we are young, but what are the real reasons we are struggling?”
Coach Painter replied, “We are young, we turn the ball over way too much, we don’t have a dominate scorer and we lack a little bit of swagger.”
Ronnie Johnson ears perked up, his face lit up at this press conference. He looked at A.J. and smiled, I must say one of the most awkward smiles I have seen to date.
AJ gave him one of those looks like “I can’t wait to eat this pizza in 10 minutes” look.
I stupidly asked Ronnie, “Ronnie, Coach said that we lack some swagger out there, do you take this upon yourself as you are the point guard of this team?”
Ronnie says “Ya man, myself and my brother we are the guards out there, we need to bring that swagger, we need to bring that sauce.”
Wait a minute... Did he just say the word sauce?
This was coming off a 37 point loss at home. We need freaking sauce?
In some type of transparent ghost appearance. Robbie Hummel appeared behind me.
He said “This is the sauce I was talking about, Purdue will be even worse next year as he leads the team. Coach Painter will need to revisit his recruiting strategy and recruit Purdue guys again.”
Damn you Robbie. One, shouldn’t of you been with the T’Wolves at practice or something? Secondly. Stop with these predictions!
The brutal season went on. We finished the season 16-18, 8-10 in the B1G. I watched us lose to Santa Clara in the CBI tournament. I lost all hope. This is what rock bottom feels like (later comes the Hazell era of Purdue Football).
In the off-season, I talked myself out of it. I said next year, we will have a better season! Boy, was I wrong.
Another solid class of incoming freshman, it included Kendall Stephens, Basil Smotherman and Bryson Scott. All of who would not finish their careers in the Old Gold and Black.
I thought the team was playing okay. Non-con wasn’t too bad.
Ronnie Johnson was caught over and over again saying on the court “I bring that Ragu, I bring that sauce to this team!” I rolled my eyes over and over again.
Then late in the Big Ten season, we hit a wall. Seven straight losses to end the season, ending the season with a 15-17, last in the B1G.
The Dark Ages continued. But, this upcoming offseason was different.
Coach Painter would begin the Purge of the roster.
Ronnie Johnson. Gone. Donnie Hale & Jacob Lawson were pushed out the year before.
But the king of sauce, the king of Ragu AND Prego Marinara sauces was pushed out.
CJ Walker has too much sauce to his game.. Great decision— Ronnie Johnson (@showtheworld3) March 29, 2015
The light shined.
The sun rose the day after he was forced out and I swear I’ve never seen it shine any brighter.
The incoming class of Vince Edwards, PJ Thompson, Isaac Haas, Dakota Mathias and Jacquil Taylor were here to save the day. Superheroes.
I got a chance to talk to all of them. I asked them all the same question.
“How are we going to fix Purdue?”
PJ was first “Kyle, I just want to restore the point guard position here, I want to play my role and do what is asked of me, I don’t need sauce.”
Isaac was next, “I wear a size 22 shoe, ask any commentator on television they will tell you 3 times per game. But, also I want to make Purdue Basketball Great again!” (Which is weird to think about now with the Trump campaign recently over.)
Vincent says, “This class came here to turn Purdue around. We will make it back to the tournament, we will play together and we will bring toughness back to Purdue.”
Dakota Mathias responded with “Coach Painter brought me into shoot, but with my work ethic, I think I could eventually be all-B1G defensive team. We will bring the tenacity on defense back to West Lafayette.”
Jacquil Taylor said, “I am just hoping to bringing back a winning mentality and to stay healthy during my career.”
I thought, these are 18 year old kids saying this. They mean business! They want to be great! The Dark Ages are going to come to an end! Hallelujah!
Then Robbie appeared behind me again, he has such a knack of catching me in these types of moments.
He said, “These are the freshman that will bring us back. But, be prepared for a couple of letdowns beforehand.”
I tried to ask “What types of letdowns?! Not another ACL injury! What are you talking about Rob?”
He disappeared before my eyes. He was gone again. Damn him.
What is he talking about now? He was already correct about too much sauce leading us down this road.
WHY ME. WHY ME ROBBIE. YOU COULD HAVE DONE THIS TO SOMEONE ELSE FROM H&R.
To be continued....