First off, it cannot be said enough: Myself and the entire Hammer and Rails staff are wishing for everyone’s safe keeping. We implore the state of Indiana and the country at large to continue to take the extreme and necessary measures seriously. For many of us, this is the most disruption we have ever had to our day to day lives. It’s a terrifying time of uncertainties, where the enemy at our gates is invisible and for many of us, not life-threatening.
But we aren’t staying in, we aren’t closing shops and businesses, we aren’t pausing the world as we know it for us. It’s for those who were here before, those who can’t look after themselves, those at risk through no fault of their own, those at fault through fault of their own - this isn’t a time to draw distinctions, party lines, or the rhetoric that American freedom means I can do what I want. Instead, draw on the American belief that we are here for the sick and poor, for the hungry and those that can’t protect themselves.
There’s light at the end of any storm. So hold your loved ones close, grab a book, stay in, stay safe, and we will get through this, apart but together.
And while we wait, let’s talk about sports because they, too, will return. Let’s talk about Coach Matt Painter and his 14 seasons as Purdue’s head basketball coach where he has amassed a 321-159 record, 3 Big Ten Coach of the Year Awards, the five winningest classes in Purdue history, three straight Sweet Sixteen appearances, one Elite Eight appearance, and 11 NCAA tournament appearances in 13 post-seasons.
Coach Painter is already 3rd in wins in Purdue history and doesn’t turn 50 until August. He played his career at Purdue and has epitomized the Boilermaker heart, spirit, and loyalty that any college in any conference would be lucky to find once a generation. Having him be the hand-selected successor for the legend Gene Keady is some next level #blessed.
But it hasn’t been easy, and there is still a Purdue syndrome rolling around the Twitterverse and stuck to the walls of Facebook.
Last year, it seemed like Purdue was finally going to crash through the Final Four ceiling. Ghosts were slaughtered against Tennessee, and were ready to be vanquished against Virginia.
And then it happened. The miss. The tip back. The pass. The floater.
An Elite Eight was something, a real turning point for a program that had been so close, but there are still corners to take, but for now, while the NCAA tournament was cancelled this year, and a long summer awaits us all, we can take a look back at how we got here.
So the question we ask all of you - the loyal, the observant, the arm chair historians - what are the key turning points in Coach Painter’s career and tenure as a Boilermaker?
Which ones hold the most weight to you? The Baby Boilers recruiting class? C. J. Walker de-committment opening up a scholarship for a small guard from Texas? Biggie? The Ryan Cline game? The Carsen experience?
Which player, which moment, which shot, which rebound, which game sticks out in your mind?
This will kick start a series of discussions, articles, and podcasts for the next couple months as Hammer and Rails dives deep into the legacy of Coach Painter before we celebrate his 50th birthday ahead of his 15th season as a Boilermaker.