It is the end of the 2014 season.
We just finished 15-17, 5-13 in conference, good for a last place finish in the B1G. Times were grim, it was the second losing season in a row. But, this season was worse than the year before, where we won 8 B1G games.
People were calling for Coach Painter’s head. Wanted him fired, asking - why did we give him an extension?
But, 4 years can make all the difference.
An underrated and rather big freshman class was about to come to campus. Coach Painter was gouging the roster - getting rid of any cancerous players that we had, along with seniors graduating.
Players that graduated or left after that season: Terone Johnson, Ronnie Johnson (Too much sauce), Travis Carroll, Jay Simpson (Heart Condition), Errick Peck and Sterling Carter.
This opened up the door for a huge freshman class.
Enter these fellas: Vincent Edwards, Dakota Mathias, Isaac Haas, P.J. Thompson and Jacquil Taylor. Wide eyed and bushy tailed.
They came in and right away said, they want to change Purdue. They want the winning culture, little did we know, these 5, along with the leader Ray Davis, turned it around quicker than we all expected.
Lead by Ray Davis defensively and AJ Hammons on both end, these freshmen came in and got us back to the tournament in year one. Did we expect it? I sure in the heck didn’t.
We went 21-13, 12-6 in conference good for 3rd place. Much, much better than last place. But, we go into the tournament in 8/9 match up, while being up late in the game, we blow the lead - head to Overtime and get beat, with Vincent Edwards missing the buzzer beater.
We all said, they are young - we overachieved, we can only go up from here.
We were right.
Hell Caleb Swanigan.
Ray Davis, AJ Hammons were going into their senior years, with Caleb Swanigan coming in, the highest rated player Coach Painter has ever gotten - expectations sky rocketed.
Again, we were improved. The overall season record was 26-9, 12-6 good or 3rd in the B1G again. As the tournament came, we all felt like we got snubbed as a 5 seed in the Big Dance, especially with getting a tough match up in Arkansas Little Rock.
Again, we had a lead but blew it late and was sent into overtime. We could not handle their full court pressure, their guard hit shots that he could never hit again, pulling up from 30 plus feet, hitting ridiculous shots.
We lose, 85-83 in 2OT - leaving AJ Hammons and Ray Davis without getting a tournament win. Expectations were not met.
Comes the 2014 class’ junior year. The year they make the big leap, have to become leaders. The year we make the jump, they are juniors and soon to be all-american Caleb Swanigan is in his sophomore year.
The jump was made. Our Boilers went 27-8 and 14-4 in conference play, good for a B1G Championship. Purdue was dominant in B1G play, the core of the 2014 class is coming back.
Caleb Swanigan had a year that would get him drafted in the first round of the NBA Draft. The 2014 recruiting class made a huge step as well. Isaac Haas averaged 12 points per game, in a role where he mostly came off of the bench. Vince Edwards was a utility knife starting at the 3 or the 4, averaging 12 points per game as well, but improving drastically on the glass. Dakota Mathias averaged right at 10 points per game and P.J. Thompsons set the school record for for assist to turnover ratio.
Also, enter Carsen Edwards, a dynamic freshman - the lone freshman of the group. He would end up averaging 10 points per game and being a great change of pace speed guy to this roster.
Once again, Purdue is snubbed with their seed, only being a 4 seed. But, we still made the sweet 16, but were smacked in the mouth by a very athletic Kansas team - a team that we could not keep up with, pace or athleticism. Did we meet or exceed expectations? I am not sure, but it was a fun year to watch.
Enter this season, 2017-2018. We came in underrated, no one respected us. Caleb Swanigan is gone and everyone thought that we would not be as great as we have been. But, no one expected Carsen Edwards to make the jump that he did. No one except Coach Painter and his players, Carsen, a 2nd team AA, lead this Purdue as our superstar.
Surrounded by seniors and a great coach, this team went on a 19 game winning streak. Peaking to number 3 in the nation. Some say we peaked too early, but if this Purdue team is on we are on.
“Experts” say we will get beat in round 2, based on something that happened 2 and 3 years ago. This team is not the same. This team will fight, these seniors understand that this is their last ride. Everything is on the line.
The ending is still waiting to be written.
The train is coming, look out.