Yes, hooptyball is still a thing we have to think about. I mean, I won't be thinking about it because I'm not letting our Jekyll and Hyde play ruin my vacation. I was using the royal "We" there. But all of you can read this and then watch us lose, or win, or get sucked into a black hole.
To learn more about Purdue, I went to Travis (aka BoilerTM, the legend behind the @HammerandRails Twitter account) from...you guessed it...Hammer & Rails. And in case you were wondering, the questions were asked and answered before we set the game of basketball back eons.
The Daily Gopher: So that win over UW must have been nice. Make sure to thank the guys for me (I live in Madison and enjoy every moment of Badger fan sadness and confusion). In the meantime, what got into the Boilers? I'm sure I'm not alone in being surprised by the win given that Purdue hadn't had a win of note since the end of January (and that requires Iowa to count as a win of note).
Travis M: Purdue finally played Purdue-style basketball and it paid off. D.J. Byrd got hot, Terone Johnson was ridiculously effective in the lane, and there was actual effort on defense. It probably helps that Purdue struggles to score and Wisconsin is a slow down team, so we were able to get back on defense with regularity. There was actual effort and fight for once. Much of it came from Sandi Marcius.
I have been a Marcius defender for awhile and it was nice to see the big guy get his moment in the sun. He earned it. He is not as talented as A.J. Hammons, but his energy was infectious and much needed.
TDG: I'm sure many Gopher fans haven't been following Purdue closely since we're seeing each other for the first time in the last game of the year (WTF Big Ten?). How would you describe this team and their season to date? Which Boilers should Gopher fans be keeping an eye on?
TM: It's been frustrating as we're a young team with a lot of potential. The upperclass leadership has been lacking at times. After Chris Kramer, E'Twaun Moore, and Robbie Hummel we're not used to that. There are three or four non-conference losses that really sting right now because A variety of things prevented them from becoming wins that would have us on the Bubble right now. Against Bucknell it was free throws. Against Villanova it was a terrible call in the final minute. Against Xavier it was 0 for 19 from three. Against Eastern Michigan it was a terrible offensive effort all around.
Purdue has lacked consistency all year. That's pretty obvious when they won at Wisconsin (the toughest place to play in the conference) by 13 but lost at 14-16 Eastern Michigan. Ronnie Johnson has improved greatly as a freshman point guard and seems to be clicking with his brother, Terone. A.J. Hammons can be dominant when the light turns on, but a ghost the next night. Donnie Hale and Rapheal Davis are very promising youg forwards.
Then there is D.J. Byrd. The lone recruited senior (Dru Anthrop was originally a walk-on) has seen three members of his graduating class (John Hart, Kelsey Barlow, Patrick Bade) leave the program early for various reasons. He's Purdue's lone consistent three-point threat, but is just as capable of a 7 for 9 night from three as an 0 for 12.
TDG: I've been tossing in OT questions in recent Q&A's and this one has been the most popular. Who is your least favorite B1G coach and why?
TM: Tom Crean, mostly because his comedy writes itself with the constant clapping, the constant adjusting of his pants, his prickish attitude when he loses, and the whole "cutting down the nets after a loss". Most true Purdue fans admit that Indiana is good this year and even fun to watch individually, but Crean is a clown we love to see fail.
(ED NOTE: Coach Crean would like you all to know that there is a party in his pants and that you are invited:)
TDG: What are your expectations for what little remains of the season? Do you see a magical Big Ten Tourney run on the horizon?
TM: That would be amazing, especially when some people talked of clawing onto the Bubble if we won the last two regular season games to reach 9-9,t hen reached the final. I think that is unlikely, however. I don't think Purdue is consistent enough to win three games in a row in Chicago or four needed for the auto-bid. If we had won three of the Xavier-Bucknell-EMU-Villanova games I think we'd be close to the bubble and have something to play for, but even if Purdue gets an easier first round game against Northwestern I don't see them running through the likes of Ohio State-Michigan-Indiana in three straight days.
I would like to win the last two regular season games and at least one in Chicago do there can be some postseason. I think that gets Purdue to the NIT. Even a split with Michigan and Minnesota and a win or two in Chicago is probably enough for a CBI bid. I think some postseason games where these freshmen can play together against some decent competition would provide some momentum going into next season.
TDG: What do you think Purdue needs to do in order to win this game?
(ED NOTE: Had this been asked after the Nebraska game I think Travis' response might simply have been "LOLWUT.")
TM: Minnesota showed they work the glass extremely well vs. Indiana, so they have to do that. Byrd and TJ have to both be on their games offensively or Purdue gets bogged down with defenses collapsing on Hammons and Ronnie Johnson trying to create something from nothing. Defensvely, Purdue has to guard the perimeter and keep up the effort it had against Wisconsin. The biggest frustration I have seen all year is teams simply out-working Purdue. We pride ourselves on playing tough, hard-nosed basketball and it is tough to see lazy defensive possessions and other teams out-hustling us.
TDG: Predictions for Saturday?
TM: I think Purdue puts it together and finds a way to win in the final home game for Anthrop and Byrd. The Boilers always play tough on Senior Day even in down years. I am expecting a close game, but a narrow Purdue win.
Thanks again to Travis for taking the time to answer questions that were made somewhat obsolete by things that happened. Make sure to check back later for the "FOR THE LOVE OF EVERYTHING THAT IS WONDERFUL ON THIS EARTH CAN YOU PLEASE JUST WIN A ROAD GAME AND STOP DRIVING US ALL CRAZY? SERIOUSLY. WE'RE BEGGING YOU. WE CAN PROVIDE REFRESHMENTS FOR YOUR NEXT GET-TOGETHER IF YOU HELP US OUT. SERIOUSLY, DUNKIN DONUTS FOR THE NEXT FILM SESSION. HOW AWESOME WOULD THAT BE? YOU KNOW YOU'RE THINKING ABOUT THE COFFEE AND DONUTS NOW. GIVE US A CALL AND LET US KNOW OK?" OPEN THREAD