I woke up still sad after last night's game. I thought to myself, "Why am I sad about a group of 18-22 year old's losing a basketball game? They have every reason to be sad, but why am I sad as just a fan?" I guess this is what happens when you invest so much into a team, especially your own alma mater. It is what makes college sports so fun, but also so painful at the same time.
Needless to say, I think all of our emotions were running high last night. Looking back, I tweeted some stupid stuff after the game that I probably shouldn't have (not like my tweets were good to begin with), and I had to hold myself back before I said anything worse.
Last night's loss was awful, especially with the way it ended. I think we have every right to be pissed off at how it ended, but it doesn't take away the amazing effort this team put forth after the December non-con schedule. I do think this team deserved one more game after this season, but that is out of our control as fans. This team rose and fell together throughout the season, from the coaches to the bench warmers, and last night they fell as a collective unit.
Looking back at the season, the turning point for me was after the under-8 timeout in the 2nd half in our first game against Minnesota. It was New Years Eve, Purdue's 1st game in the B1G season, the Gardner-Webb game was still fresh in everyone's mind, and Purdue was down 56-48. A previous rally attempt was erased by Minnesota, and it felt like Purdue was going to lose another game.
I'm not sure what Painter and the players said to each other in the huddle, but it worked. Purdue quickly tied the game in less than 2 minutes, which included two 3's from Stephens. It would remain back and forth, but with Purdue's defense stepping up, they prevented Minnesota from reclaiming the lead, and Davis had the exclamation dunk off a steal at the end of the game to seal the deal. I was in Mackey for that game, and for me it was one of the best games in Mackey since the Baby Boiler era, even with a smaller crowd than usual for a New Years Eve game.
To me, that game is the turning point for this season. You could use the Penn State game or Iowa game as other turning points, but had Purdue lost that game, they may not have even beaten Michigan in the next game, which was of similar fashion. That game showed our Boilers that they have the tenacity to come back and snatch victory from the jaws of defeat, and that this team has the ability to Play Hard and win the game.
The defeat from last night sucks, and it will be one we remember for ages. It may not be as painful as the loss to Kansas in 2012, as my friend Ricky pointed out, as that marked the end of an era. I hope last night's loss lights a fire under this team's ass and makes them come out with vengeance next season. If Hammons stays, I demand that Painter make this a Top 25 team and at least get them to the NCAA Sweet 16 next season. I don't see any reason why that could not be possible.
To Octeus: By God, I wish we had you for another season. We will never forget your dunk against IU. When mankind has left this Earth and an alien race reclaims what is left of the Earth, all that will remain in Bloomington are your nuts implanted into Colin Hartmann's dead body. You have also been a marvelous player throughout the season, and certainly an unsung hero. But yeah, we're always going to remember that dunk, so I hope you're okay with that.
To Rapheal: You have officially become my favorite player on this team (the rest of you are still awesome though). Your defensive intensity and leadership on the court reminds me of a guy who had your number but without the number 5 (Chris Kramer if you aren't following). Before the season started, you talked about living up to Purdue's Play Hard motto, and boy did you live up to it. Bring back that fire next season, O Captain My Captain.
To Hammons: PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE STAY. There's a reason why you stayed in West Lafayette after your freshman and sophomore seasons. You could have gone to the NBA then, but you wanted to stay and get this team back to the Promise Land. You saw a glimpse of that this season, and you can finish the job next season. Use this loss as a motivation to come back to Purdue even stronger. Besides, those NBA guys are jerks from what I've heard. Maybe.
To Bryson and Basil: I'm not sure why Painter had you warm the benches at the beginning of the B1G season, but you guys provided an amazing spark when you were on the court. It's amazing to see how much you have matured since last season. Keep up the good work, and I promise you'll be in the starting line-ups, or at least the powerful 6th man of the game. (Okay, 7th man since the Paint Crew is technically the 6th Man.)
To Kendall: Oh Kendall. Don't let those missed 3s get to you, bud. We may cringe lately when you shoot a 3, but we all know the potential is there. Keep your head up, you have the potential to be a star at Purdue. I think re-injuring yourself against Illinois in January has brought you down, so use this offseason to heal up completely and come back making those 3s next season.
To the freshman, PJ, Vince, Haas, and Mathias: Without you, this season wouldn't have been possible. Vince, you have been clutch throughout the season. Mathias, it's amazing to have seen your offense within the arc and defense progress throughout the season. Haas: It's amazing how you and Hammons pushed each other this season. Even if your minutes towards the latter half of the season were to just fill in for Hammons, you still provided a great presence on the court, and even on the bench. PJ: I think some will sadly remember your air-ball 3 last night. However, I will remember your breakout game against Illinois to end the regular season. Without your presence, there's no way Purdue rallies to reclaim the lead.
To Neal: I wish you the best in your future career. You, along with McKeeman and Toyra (and Anfernee when he was on the team) certainly pushed this team in practice. And Jacquil, continue your recovery effort and heal up, we'll need you in the future.
And here are some puppy pictures to help with the end of the season.