Mike Botkin is a lifelong Purdue Boilermakers fan. He’ll be offering the dissenting point of view on the IU hoopla all season.
Let’s check in, shall we, on the Hoosiers and Boilermakers. Two programs headed in different directions? That’s about to change. (And thanks a lot, Ball State—that wasn’t even a good scrimmage for IU last night.)
So far, the Hoosiers have done nothing more than has been expected of them. They beat teams they were supposed to beat. The loss of Hanner Perea and Peter Jurkin hasn’t hampered them much, mostly because of the level of competition. The team depth is fine and rotations satisfactory. Once those two players are eligible again, their presence will mess with everyone’s minutes. I think we are seeing “Freshman-itis” from Yogi Ferrell (2 points last night?), although he did hit a big prayer from the corner against Georgetown in OT.
The Boilermakers are right about where everyone expected, too. The road losses come as no big surprise. They were in both games late in the second half before the reality of the moment slapped the freshmen in the face and they fell apart—much to the delight of the IU faithful, I’m sure. But remember, Purdue wasn’t picked to win every game and the national championship. A.J. Hammons is looking more comfortable in the middle (the guy is 7 feet tall, after all), and that’s starting to open up Purdue’s offense. Thankfully, Jay Simpson and Donnie Hale are stepping up their game also. All Matt Painter needs to do now is get Raphael Davis to be more effective, and those four freshmen will start winning games.
Even the pro-IU press is starting to doubt whether the Hoosiers still deserve to be No. 1, given the way they’ve played defense. If you think the Jan. 30 matchup between them and the Boilers won’t be a showdown, you’re fooling yourself.