Purdue did not come out of the gate firing last night. They were down 8-0 early in the game, but used their defense to get them back into the game. Robbie Hummel led the team in scoring, but E’Twaun Moore really carried them when he was needed. Moore seems like he can score whenever he wants to. LewJack put on another ball handling display last night as well. He really enjoys breaking down the defender, and then getting the ball to the open man. It is fun watching a true point guard at work. Purdue forced Eastern Michigan into 22 turnovers last night, and I think they can get even more tonight. Four players scored in double figures last night. This is an unselfish team, and that should help translate into wins. They do not force shots very often to pad their stats. We really only root for one player to force a few shots. Of course at the end of the game Bobby Buckets was put in, and the crowd lived and died on his every shot. His jumper from the free throw line sent the crowd into one last roar. Most of them had seen enough then, and left.
Tonight I will be at the NIT Tip Off games at Mackey Arena. I really have to get going to make it in time, but I need to get some predictions in. Purdue plays Eastern Michigan in the first game. The Boilers just set school records on Friday with only 3 turnovers in the game. They know how to take care of the ball. Purdue is the #1 seed in the tournament, but plays the #14 seed to start things off. That makes no sense to me, but does not factor in my pick.
The second game features #6 seed Georgia against #10 Loyala-Chicago. I don’t know about either of these teams so I will guess here.
A month or so ago I wrote a post about going to the Robin Williams show in Lafayette. Tonight I saw Frank Caliendo in Merrillville, IN. He makes his living impersonating other people. He does some great ones, but his best by far is President Bush. What does that have to do with sports? Absolutely nothing. He does do a great John Madden, Charles Barkley, and Jim Rome though. I did not take my camera, and once I got inside the theater I was upset that I did not. My walk up ticket put me in the fourth row right in front of Frank. He put on a great show that had me rolling around in my seat. He can jump from character to character so fast that you wonder how he doesn’t screw it up. He also spent some time laying down on the floor flat on his back doing his routine. Don’t ask, you would have to see it. It was a great show. I may have said that already huh? Since I did not have a camera I posted a YouTube clip of Frank doing his Charles Barkley. I will be saying trble for days after hearing this impression. Enjoy the clip!
Purdue has so much going for them this season that I think they can only dissapoint. Last season we had lower expectations, and the kids outperformed them. Now we are expecting them to win the Big Ten, and go deeper in the tournament. Things have definitely changed in West Lafayette. That is due in large part to the kids that Matt Painter has brought in. The three captains give you a great glimpse at what the team is made of. Chris Kramer, Keaton Grant, and Robbie Hummel all play the game hard. Nobody on this team gives up it seems like. They play from tip off to the final buzzer. If it is perceived that they are slacking off, they are pulled from the game. The best part about this team is that the major contributors will be back next season. The only player that will see big minutes that is a senior is Marcus Green. It will be interesting to see what Big Ten team he decides to go off on this year. He is usually good for one great game a year. This team is so balanced that they really won’t really on any one person for the scoring. Both Grant and Moore are capable to carry a team on their backs. The other guys on the floor can score points too. I was going to do a bigger team write up, but it has been done so many times already that I thought it would be redundant. You will see what I think of each player as the season goes on in my game write ups.
I have so much luck with my predictions that I thought I would try one here. It is a little early to predict the Big Ten finish with conference play not set to start until almost 2009, but I thought that I have just as good of a chance now to make predictions as I do then. Let’s see what we get.
1. Purdue – All will be right with the world if Purdue can finish at the top of the conference. Many experts have picked them to finish up here, and I agree with them. Of course I would have put them here anyway since I am such a homer. Mackey will be rockin’ this year. (Games versus Purdue)2. Ohio State – I think the next two teams are pretty close. I put Ohio State above Michigan State just because I think that Thad Matta is just a litter better than Izzo. (@ 2/3, 2/28 or 3/1)3. Michigan State – Now that I have angered State fans I may have to cancel that trip to East Lansing this winter. They will be in the hunt for the title all year. The loss of Drew Neitzel will leave them looking for someone to fill that large void. Lucas should step up and take his spot this year. (2/17, @ 3/7 or 3/8)4. Wisconsin – They are the last of the contenders I think. They are a good team that plays the game right. Sounds a little like another team that I know. (1/11, @ 1/27)
5. Penn State – Geary Claxton is back, and Penn State will be ready to play. Experience puts them ahead of the Gophers. (@ 1/6, 2/11)6. Minnesota – Tubby Smith will always have his teams ready. Here he is showing his displeasure with my ranking of his team. The good news is that they don’t have to face Purdue in Mackey this season. (@ 1/22)7. Michigan – This team has a couple of stars, but after that they are not very deep. Manny Harris and Sims will have to carry this team. (1/31, @ 2/26)8. Illinois – This team upset Purdue in the Big Ten Tournament last year, and went to the tournament finals. They lost two great players though, and will struggle to find players to step it up. They do have Jordan’s kid though so never count them out. Bruce Weber looks like he is sick of being at the bottom of the Big Ten in the picture. He had better get used to it. He will have another long year ahead of him. The Orange Crush will get crushed more than they crush this year. They’re not a player they just crush a lot. (12/30, @ 2/8)9. Northwestern – This is one of those teams at the bottom of the conference that you do not want to face. Just look at what they did to Purdue last season. They made us work to get the wins. They are a good team, just not good enough for the upper tier of the Big Ten. (@ 1/15, 3/4 or 3/5, or 3/6)10. Iowa – After Alford left this program in a heap they have some work to do. They will have a long season ahead of them. They should be better than the Hoosiers though. (1/18, @ 2/14)11. Indiana – It does not feel good to put the Hoosiers here. If you win the conference you want to beat your rival to do it. Indiana is hurting this year. Sampson left them a big hole to fill. The bad news for the rest of the conference is that they have a damn good coach now. IU will be back on top before you know it. (2/21 or 2/22)
The regular season starts tonight for the Boilers. Let’s see how well they do. So far this season I am 2-0 with my men’s basketball picks. This week I may take it up a notch. It is early in the season so let’s pick some other Big Ten games.
Purdue 86 – Detroit Mercy 46
Penn State 92 – William & Mary 65
Illinois 101 – Eastern Washington 52
Iowa 94 – Charleston Southern 60
I will probably not get a chance for my football pick anywhere else this week so I will do it here. Last week I went 0-3. The Packers were my best chance for a win, and they blew it. On the football season so far I am 7-8. Part of that is my inability to pick against the teams that I like. This week I think that I can do that. I don’t think that Purdue has much of a chance.
Penn State 48 – Indiana 10
Ohio State 31 – Illinois 24
Minnesota 24 – Wisconsin 23
Northwestern 17 – Michigan 21
Notre Dame 24 – Navy 17
And as if that were not enough predictions here is my women’s basketball picks for the weekend. I am 1-0 so far this season here. It is easy to pick the exhibition games although the Boilers were given one hell of a fight.
Purdue 71 – IUPUI 46
Notre Dame 52 – LSU 58
Michigan State 82 – Niagra 61
Illinois 58 – IPFW 42
Indiana 57 – Ball State 50
Stanford 62 – Minnesota 57
That should be just about enough for this post huh? Any more predictions and my head might explode.
Today I was still in Lafayette so I went to the Purdue Women’s game. They were playing an exhibition against the OBGR Legends. One member of that team played for Purdue at the turn of the century. She is Erica Valek who is pictured above in the black jersey. She was a little before my time watching women’s basketball, but I do remember her being a great leader on the floor. She was fun to watch again. The other interesting part of the day was seeing some new faces on the floor as well as the return of a couple old ones. Jodie Howell and Lindsay Wisdom-Hylton made their return to the court today. It was great to see these two back in action after missing all of last season. Lindsay looked like her old self being wherever the ball is. Her quick hands make a huge difference on the court. Howell looked good as well when she shot. She is full of bandages and pads though. Today was also my first chance to see the freshmen for the first time. None of them more heralded than Brittany Rayburn. She seemed like she was at every game last year, so she should be used to seeing a game here. What she probably was not used to was being on the floor. She looked a little tight at the beginning of the game, but settled in nicely during the second half. She only had two points, but the sky is the limit for her. The star of the game though was Danielle Campbell. She took the game over similar to the way JaJuan Johnson did last night for the men. She finished with 22 points including two three pointers. Not bad for the center. This could be a great year. Look for a preview sometime this week before the first game of the year.
Last night I was at Purude’s final exhibition game. Purdue only won by 20, but there were plenty of bright spots. JaJuan Johnson looked great. He still is skinny as can be, but he could really develop into a dominant force under the basket. What will make him so great though are the guys out on the perimeter. Last night they were very cold shooting. Hopefully we can get rid of that before the season starts Friday. LewJack really is fun to watch. He is a pass first guy that can shoot it as well. A true point guard is something that we have needed. Crump was alright, but this guy looks good. The guys may not have come out of the gate firing, but after what had to be a spirited half time talk they came out to play in the second half. They had the intensity that we are used to seeing from them. Painter was so loud during a timeout that I could here him over the band from across the arena. The games that don’t count are finally over. Now we can start the season for real.