The 2017-18 edition of Purdue women’s basketball was wildly inconsistent, and as a result, it will miss the NCAA Tournament.
This is not something we’re used to at Purdue. Sure, the women haven’t been beyond the second round since 2007, but at least it has been a constant in the NCAAs. Of late it has been locked into the 8/9 game before playing a No. 1 seed on its home floor. Last year it nearly shocked Notre Dame in South Bend, but came up short.
This year Purdue was right on the Bubble with an 18-13 record and 9-7 mark in Big Ten play. When 16-14 Oklahoma got in you would think that would be enough, but it was not. That is where the inconsistency comes in.
When the Boilers were good they were very good. The Boilers beat three teams in the top 25 of the RPI. It had an impressive road victory at Central Michigan to start the year, and the Chips finished 27-4 and earned the rare at large bid for a MAC team. It won at ranked Maryland, beat a ranked Rutgers at home, and won at ranked Iowa and Michigan.
When they were bad, they were awful. Indiana finished just 17-14, but swept both games with Purdue. The ladies lost home games against Ohio and Ball State. A two-point loss to Rutgers in the Big Ten Tournament sealed their fate.
This is not normal for our once proud program. Since finishing second in the WNIT in 1987-88 under Lin Dunn, Purdue has missed the NCAA Tournament only four times. In 1993 Purdue went 16-11 before rebounding the next year to go 29-5 and reach the program’s first Final Four a year later. Purdue would reach two more Final Fours, win a national title and reach five additional Elite Eights before it missed the NCAAs again in 2009-10.
Unfortunately, that was the birth of Second Round Sharon. After 2009-10 Purdue bowed out in the Second Round of the NCAAs for four straight seasons before missing hte postseason entirely with an injury-riddled 11-20 mark in 2014-15. Purdue made the tournament each of the last two years and even won a game last year, but the onconsistency knocked it out this year.
It looks as if Sharon Versyp will get one more year to right this ship as this year’s team was extremely young and challenging. Adreona Keys is the lone senior and the one player who will not be back next season. Lamina Cooper, Ae’Rianna Harris, Dominique Oden, and Karissa McLaughlin all averaged in double figures. Cooper, Harris and Oden are also sophomores with McLaughlin being a freshman. Incoming freshmen Cassidy Hardin and Kayana Traylor were also just named Indiana All-Stars.
The future looks bright from a talent standpoint. The Boilers will have just two seniors next year in Nora Kiesler (2.3 ppg) and the little used Abby Abel. That means in two seasons we could be in line for a monster season, but this team struggled with turnovers all season.
There may still be games to play, too. Purdue officials have said it the team is open to playing in the women’s NIT (yes, it is a thing), but none of the games will be played in Mackey Arena. That bracket will be announced at 9pm tonight.