As I was sitting stunned in my seat at the United Center tonight I was thinking about how things had come full circle. This season ended for me exactly how it started. I remember sitting in Ross-Ade Stadium when a friend sent me a text about Robbie Hummel tearing his ACL again. Once I confirmed it wasn’t a sick joke I had a feeling in my stomach like I had been punched in the gut. Late in this game I had the same feeling once you knew it was over. They showed Rob on the jumbotron crying, and I had that same sick feeling in my gut. Combine this with the terrible way the seniors went out in football, and things get even worse. We have seen some of the best to come through Purdue this past fall with Kerrigan, and now with JJ and Smooge. None of them went out the way they would have liked.
Part of the problem of following a team as close as I do is that you start to get attached to players. I mean if they saw me on the street they would have no idea who I was. At my brothers graduation last spring I was sitting next to Keaton Grant afterward. The look on his face was one that he hoped he wouldn’t get recognized. Just because they don’t know me doesn’t mean that we as fans don’t get attached to them. They just seem like such good guys that you want nothing but the best for them. Losing 94-76 was not what was best for them.
I don’t think that any good could come out of singling out players to blame. I am not sure that I could single any one player out for this loss. They ran into a buzzsaw tonight. That was the team that had kept hearing how it was not any good, and couldn’t win. They used that as fire to win three games in five days and advance to San Antonio.
Purdue was a team that has faced adversity all season long. When something got in their way they just overcame it. They finally ran into something that they could not overcome. For a team that prides itself on defense giving up 94 points is pretty tough. I think that the long season finally caught up to them here at the end. This was not the same team the last couple of weeks that won against Ohio State, @ Michigan State, and @ Illinois. The only explanation I can come up with is fatigue.
Play of the Game: This one is hard. I will have to give it to E’Twaun who nailed a jumper with about seven minutes left in the first half to give Purdue the lead 24-23. That was the last time that the Boilers would lead this game.
Gameball: From out of nowhere Ryne Smith came to play in the city where his namesake had so many great seasons. He was 6-8 from behind the arc to give him 20 points for the game. He also had three rebounds and one block. He finally regained that touch that we have been waiting on. It came at the perfect time as well to help break the press. It was just not enough.
I think that I would be remiss if I did not include both JJ and E’Twaun here. JaJuan Johnson had 25 points, 15 rebounds and three blocks in his final game for the Boilers. He went out with a loss, but he had another solid game. That is what we have come to expect from him night in and night out, and he rarely disappointed us.
E’Twaun Moore had ten points, eight rebounds, and six assists on his last night for the Boilers. By his standards it was not his greatest game, but those are very high standards. He will leave the school with many records in his pocket.
Things are too close right now for me to get to into this season. I will wait until things die down a bit, and do a season wrap up.Who would have thought when the brackets came out that the Purdue Women would be playing longer than the Purdue Men? This March has truly been madness.
Florida State 71 – Notre Dame 57: There was a second game tonight. I was so mad after the Purdue game that I decided that getting on the Dan Ryan was probably a bad idea. After having one too many Notre Dame fans get in my face to rub it in I decided to head up to the last row behind the basket and just sit. I think I started watching basketball just before halftime. Before that I was staring at the court, but nothing was really registering. When I started paying attention I realized that the #2 seed was in trouble. I checked my phone, and saw where some Purdue fans were talking about how ND losing would make them feel better. I don’t know how a team losing can get rid of our loss, but I did take great pleasure when leaving to walk back by my original seat to say hi to the guys that were making fun of the Purdue loss. When you filled out your bracket a couple of weeks ago who picked VCU and Florida State to be playing in San Antonio. This was supposed to be the big instate matchup between Notre Dame and Purdue. This was supposed to be the game that can never get scheduled during the regular season for some reason. Instead a #10 or a #11 seed will be in the elite eight. They will face either #1 seed Kansas or #12 seed Richmond. If the Spiders can pull of the upset this will be a historic region.