Breathe in, breathe out. Breathe in, breathe out. Okay, do you feel any better? Yeah, me neither, I was never any good at mediation. But I’m here to offer a little perspective and hopefully(?) make you feel better.
Purdue fandom has been in quite of a meltdown mode after Purdue lost on the road to both IU and Northwestern. And I get it. We’ve been here before. Some cracks in the armor get exposed and we fumble some games. I think especially after having such high expectations last year and starting hot, before our weaknesses got exposed and we ended the season with no hardware. It’s like having a great meal at a restaurant with bad service. Even though the meal was good, the waiter left a bad taste in your mouth and you don’t want to go back.
It’s not fair to compare season to season but as fans we do it. It’s hard not to. But this isn’t the same team so it’s unfair to think this one will end just like a previous season or seasons will.
I’m a diehard fan just like you. And it’s funny because as the season started and we had climbed to #1 and remained undefeated into January I still kept reminding myself that we would probably lose at some point. And then we did. To Rutgers of course and I handled the loss well (this also may be in part to my mind being impaired from attending the Orange Bowl, but I digress). I had already told myself a loss would come and because for some reason they’ve become our kryptonite I shook it off relatively fast. And even after Rutgers I knew we would probably lose again. The IU game at Assembly I circled on my calendar as one that was probable we’d drop. But when we did. I felt just like you. I hate losing, and I really hate losing to IU. And now some cracks are being exposed. I worried about how they’d bounce back against Iowa if I’m being honest and while we faltered down the stretch they still got the W. Whew. All is good again.
But all was not good as we went to Northwestern and took another loss. This game has been talked about a lot and for good reason. You can say a lot about the officiating and costly turnovers but this one gave me that “I don’t want to go back” taste in my mouth. It was just a game I think we could have and should have won and those are always the worst. So again I sit here and think, how does this team respond?
Maryland is undefeated at home in conference and we know, no game is easy in the B1G. I think if we take another L you’ll have people jumping from the rafters (so to speak) and if we win then chatter of final four will be on my Twitter timeline again. The good news, according to Haslametrics is Purdue hasn’t really played a bad game this year. Our worst performance came against Nebraska back in December in which we still won.
Proof that Purdue hasn't really had a terrible performance yet this year. Their lowest game efficiency rating of the entire season was just a -17.9, and that was earned during a three-point overtime WIN at Nebraska back on December 10th. #B1G pic.twitter.com/EZXpMMqeis— Erik Haslam (@haslametrics) February 13, 2023
Now take your mind back to October. If I had told you that we would have a 2 game lead in the B1G, sitting 23-3 overall, sat #1 in the poll for seven weeks, and a projected #1 seed in the tournament would you have been happy? I think the majority of us would have taken that in a heartbeat.
So I think it’s important to remember that the team you thought about in October is still the same team today, your expectations of them just changed. We still have two true freshman starting, we still have a transfer who is adjusting to a new team, and we still have a group of guys who will continue to learn, grow and adapt with each game. Failure is not the opposite of success, it’s a part of success.
Odds are we weren’t going to go undefeated. I think every reasonable fan expected the team to drop some games. So why is it so hard for us when what we thought would happen actually does. Maybe it’s our competitive nature as sports fans or maybe it’s just PTSD from that bad restaurant service, but I urge you, breathe. To enjoy one of the best seasons Purdue has had and remember the journey is just as good as the destination.