Last night I went to South Bend for two reasons. The first was to finally see Scott Martin play basketball again. He had not been on the court in over two years. The second was to see a local kid, Jake Kitchell, who plays for Indiana State. Kitchell went to South Central High School which is just a few miles south of where I live. Kitchell is not currently playing for the Sycamores as a true freshman. I do not know if this is because of a redshirt situation, injury, or no place for him in the lineup.
The game started off well for Scott Martin. He scored the first two points of the game for either side. He put the first seven points in for the Irish. After his hot start Martin seemed to cool off a bit. He hit his first three pointer, but did not make another one the rest of the game. Late in the first half he made a familiar bucket. With Indiana State just taking the lead Martin pulled down a tough rebound, and missed a shot from point blank range. Martin battled for his own rebound though, and put the Irish back ahead.When he is on Martin can be a tough man to defend.
On the back of Jake Kelly the Sycamores hung right with the Irish through the first half. They had a few leads in the first twenty minutes, but it was a short stretch at the end of the first half and to start the second that doomed them on the night. The Irish made a run at the end of the first half to take a 38-33 lead into the break. They kept it going to start the half to extend the lead to twelve. That is about the spread for much of the second half. The Sycamores hung with the Irish for most of the game. Looking at their record heading into the game I didn’t give them much of a chance. They play much tougher than their record. They are a relentless team that will battle you all forty minutes. Their fans might have been even tougher than the players on the court. Just a few sections over from me was the Sycamore section. They were vocal all night long. By the end of the game we were having a blast watching these guys going crazy. Their passion is what basketball is all about though.
I see where a lot of Boilermaker fans seem upset still with Martin for his decision to leave Purdue. I don’t know how you can be mad at an eighteen year old kid for making a bad decision. He chose Purdue, and did not like it. He made another decision that would benefit him more. I know when I was just out of high school I made plenty of bad decisions. I will probably make a few trips to South Bend to watch Martin this season. I enjoyed watching him play at Purdue, and liked what I saw last night.
The Irish start the season 8-0, and are ranked 25th in the country right now. They have a chance to really move up in the rankings in the next week and a half. They go to Kentucky to face the Wildcats in Freedom Hall, and they also get Gonzaga at home. If they can pass those two tests I will really start to believe that this team is the real deal.
Gameball: Once again Ben Hansbrough was tough to defend. He was 4-5 from behind the line last night, and led all scorers with 24 points on the night. Martin kept the Irish going early, but Hansbrough answered a couple three pointers with one of his own.
Play of the game: Once again I really didn’t see one play that stuck out from the rest at the game. Hansbrough answered a couple of threes with one of his own to keep the Irish ahead. I really liked the play by Martin under the basket that I mentioned earlier.He pulled down a tough rebound then put up a shot from under the basket. The ball rimmed out, and Scott went after it to get yet another tough rebound. He put the ball in the basket to give the Irish the lead. The Sycamores had the momentum at the time, and an empty possession for the Irish could have led to a sycamore run. Instead the Irish went on their own run to pull ahead.
I will post some pictures from the game tomorrow when I get a chance to go through them.