I always promise to do these things, but before you know it the next sport starts up, and I get busy with that one. Unfortunately this season for the Purdue men ended early enough I have a small window before baseball season starts. Just because it ended early though doesn’t mean that it wasn’t a good season. Here is a quick look back at one of the best seasons I have been able to watch in person.
Of course no rehash of the season would be complete without talking about how it started. I know most people (myself included) are sick of hearing about the second ACL tear that Robbie Hummel suffered. That being said it was a major factor in the season, and it happened before practices really got going. Purdue was as high as #2 in some polls, and they immediately fell to in the 20’s in some people’s minds. I think that it was that disrespect that fueled the fire for these players.
Purdue had an easy run early on in the season. The first game that I really was pumped up for was the game at home against Oakland. They had an NBA center named Keith Benson. This was a good chance to see what JJ could do against big time competition. He did not disappoint. He had a great game foreshadowing things to come for him. This might have been the first time that I realized that JJ might be poised for a huge season.
For a person who drives almost two hours to attend each home game it was nice to have a game close to home. The game at Valparaiso was a great game to see because of the atmosphere at the ARC. Valpo really came out ready to play and gave the Boilers all that they could handle. Purdue pulled away late though for the win. I enjoyed the game, and it made me think about how nice it would be to not have to travel so far every game.
This season had a lot of highlights. I can’t think of one day that was more fun though than the day in January when the Gameday crew came to town. I woke up early in order to get to campus to see the show being taped. Mackey was really jumping just to watch some ‘experts’ tape a TV show. The excitement carried over to the game which was played much later that night. That was the first of many electric atmospheres in Mackey this season. The crowd really got into the game, and I was even yelling and screaming.
The team flew through the Big Ten at home. They ended up with a 16-0 record at Mackey this season. All season long the Paint Crew seemed to be playing above their heads. They were fantastic. As the season went on it seemed as if everyone else realized that they were seeing something great, and started to get into the act. The games after the Michigan State game all had a great feel to them. It is hard to beat 14,123 fans that are into a game.
Purdue had great moments beating Michigan State, Ohio State, and Indiana as the season was winding down. None may have been more heart stopping than the game against Penn State. Purdue had already beaten them on the road, but Penn State was just starting to get their act together beating a few top 25 teams. They had their hearts set on beating Purdue as well. Jeff Brooks had hit a three pointer to give the Lions the lead very late. JaJuan then hit a 15 footer with 3.4 seconds left to give the Boilers the win. When the shot left his hands I didn’t think it would go in. It was a tough shot, but one that JJ made all season long. It was this shot that really started the fans thinking that maybe Purdue could win the title. Things really seemed to be going our way for once.
Of course things did not go the Boilers way and they were ousted in the second round of the tourney. Well technically the third round, but it will always be the second round to me. They still had a great season. They finished second in the Big Ten behind the #1 team in the country. Their 25-7 record is pretty good. Losing 3 out of the last 4 really makes it look a little worse than it actually was. In a few years when I look back at this season the bad moments will have faded, and all that will remain will be the great moments. We were treated with a lot of them this year.
Purdue is really losing a great one with JaJuan. As of this writing he is 1/2 to becoming a consensus All American. He is just two selections away from having his number in the rafters of the new Mackey Arena next season. As this season progressed I started to realize just how special of a player he was. He really worked on his game to improve himself in his four years. The shot against Penn State that won the game was a great example. That was a tough shot that he made look easy. He really had a well rounded game, and put this team on his back when E’Twaun was slumping a bit on offense. He gave us memories that I will think of every time that I look into the rafters at Mackey.
For some reason E’Twaun Moore may still not be on a lot of people’s radars. How could a player that good be as underrated as he was during his time at Purdue. He had a lot of great moments at Purdue, but none better than his game against Ohio State this season. His 38 points against a team that was undefeated up until that week was truly amazing. He not only lit up one of the best teams in the country, he did it with one of the best defenders in the country on him. Smooge will leave Purdue as the #3 scorer all time. He may not have his number in the rafters, but he has left his mark on the Purdue record books.
Just as the team was getting ready for the tournament Kelsey Barlow was dismissed. No official reason has been given by the team, and I wouldn’t hold my breath waiting for one. That hasn’t stopped people from speculating. About the only reason I have not heard so far is that Kelsey was abducted by aliens. I took this picture during the first exhibition game because it was apparent his entire freshman year that Painter was always on him. You can tell how bIt ad Matt wants him to succeed. The way that Purdue ended the season I really don’t think that the absence of Kelsey was a factor. It will be interesting to see how he fits into Purdue’s plans next season.
The last few minutes of the St. Peter’s game in the NCAA tournament we got a glimpse into next season. JJ and E’Twaun were both on the bench to get some rest. It will be interesting to see where the teams points come from next season. The star of the team should be Robbie Hummel. How he comes back the second time will be something Boiler fans will concern themselves with until the start of the season. Purdue will need someone to help Robbie though. Terone Johnson has shown flashes of what he could be. For some reason though his shots just were not going down. If he can get that floater to go in along with a few jump shots he will be tough to beat. LewJack really came into his own this season. He was always a good distributor, but his scoring really came around this year. He is exciting when he puts that ankle breaking move on his defender, and then drives to the hoop. I look forward to another season of those this year. Ryne Smith and DJ Byrd had games where they were hard to stop followed by games where it looked as if a lid was on the hoop. If these two can become consistent scorers I think that Purdue will be alright. It will be hard to replace Smooge and JJ. From the current Boilers I would say that Terone Johnson will be the heir to Smooge, and Travis Carroll will try and replace JJ. They have large shoes to fill, but that is the nature of college basketball. This team was not respected this season with two potential All Americans on it. I can only imagine those same doubters will be out next year when the season starts. Hopefully they can use that fire to propel them to a good season.