Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Roundtable Set To Return

It hasn't just been the offseason for Purdue sports...I've taken a hiatus from this site.

The reasons are strictly professional. I've been extremely busy getting my career off the ground in the broadcasting industry. There's been some major sweat and toil, but it's been well worth it so far. 

Let's move on to what this post is actually supposed to be about:

The podcast is back. 

Football season is, of course, right around the corner...and there's a lot to discuss. Third year head coach Darrell Hazell had a lot to say at Big Ten media days in the last week. I can tell you now that I have some thoughts on what he had to say. 

I'll save that stuff for the broadcast, but for now, keep the episode link close:

Thursday, August 6th
11:30 pm

We'll have more to say...that's a football camp begins on Friday. Hazell your hats, as they say.

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Pre-NCAA Thoughts

Today's loss to Wisconsin was a tough one.

I was working during the first half, so I can't comment on the part of the game where Purdue apparently played well. From a phone conversation with my dad, it sounds like our Boilers shot the ball at a pretty high clip before halftime on the way to that five-point lead. 

It wasn't the best performance as Wisconsin...and Frank Kaminsky, to be specific...woke up and started to attack. Bucky started to assert itself, and when that happened, it didn't seem like Purdue was able to punch back. 

With that said, I don't think it was a bad loss. 

Let's look at what the team has accomplished to this point: late-season victories at Indiana and against Ohio State in Mackey helped add something to what was a shaky NCAA resume. In beating Illinois a at the beginning of March, that magic number of 20 wins was reached. 

We all know how worried people were when Penn State had an 11-point lead in the first half against us on Friday. There's no way that losing to the Big Ten's 11th place team would have helped. In fact, it might have moved this squad to a bracketologist's "last four in". But they got it done...and here we are. 

Let me go ahead and say that Purdue is safely in the tournament at this point. There's no way a team that finished top four in a conference with the Big Ten's reputation (12-6 in the league) would be left out. Yes, those losses to Gardner-Webb and North Florida were bad in December. 

But think about this: 

North Florida has had a pretty strong season. An eight-game win streak, as well as an Atlantic Sun conference championship, have them squarely in the big dance. People thought that loss was bad at the time, but falling to a tournament-worthy team isn't anything to scoff at. 

Speaking of people that have turned a corner...
(Photo belongs to 
Gardner-Webb, on the other hand...well that was just bad. It's inexcusable. 

It's also in the past. 

It's been clear for some time that Purdue has turned a corner. We beat three (then) ranked top 25 teams in four games. A.J. Hammons has stepped it up. Rapheal Davis became the Big Ten DPOY that he now is. 

Where can this team go now? 

Well, I have a feeling that it might be better than many people think. There's something to be said for experience...and I remarked on Twitter in the last week that Jon Octeus is likely to fight incredibly hard to keep his college career alive for another game. 

You could point out that the rest of the team hasn't been to the tournament. And that's true. But there's also some depth. All anyone can really say is that, like always, what happens in March Madness will depend on matchups. 

The NCAA tournament is the best time of year in sports. Those first four holy days of hoops are the greatest. 

Let's see what happens. 

                                                                      I love March.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Boilermaker Basketball Pre-Game Primer: Indiana

Good Times huh?

I'm going to do this primer a little different, because this rematch has to be different from the first go-around, right?

First off, you all know by now who plays for both teams and with the exception of Hanner Mosquera-Perea, (who I will discuss further below), you know who the major contributors for both teams are.

We also know exactly what Purdue is going to try and do, worked pretty well the first time no?

What I'm really interested to see is what, if any, adjustments IU makes.

If they keep the same game plan and go small with Hartman predominantly at the 5, one has to think it will be better executed than in West Lafayette. I'm going to assume they won't go 4-19 again from long range. I'm going to assume Purdue will not shoot 15 more free throws than IU again. And, I'm going to assume IU won't be whistled for 6 more fouls than Purdue over the course of the game.

To me, and this might sound crazy, I'm more worried about Purdue's chances if IU doesn't change it up. That 5 out lineup can really get it going, and when IU gets hot in Ass Hall they typically stay hot. I would be concerned they would hit something crazy like say 18 threes, which they have done in the past week.

I absolutely loved Matt Painter's plan of putting AJH on Troy Williams and daring him to shoot, and if IU were to continue to go small I would think that's how Purdue will again counter it. Getting more point production from Purdue's centers would go a long way to forcing IU to go more traditional with their lineup. Hammons and Haas will need to make them pay on the scoreboard for defending with small forwards.

Which brings me to the alternative; one that's centered around Mosquera-Perea being back in the fold. In my humble opinion, the AJ Hammons that we are seeing right now would absolutely crush Perea in the paint. If AJ and Isaac don't both have 2 fouls before getting off the bus, they should be able to draw them on Perea if he tries to body them one on one. Yes he's a decent rebounder, yes he gives them length and athleticism, but he's also still unskilled with the ball and not big enough to body with AJ and Isaac.

Regardless of what IU does or doesn't do adjustment wise, there are clearly a few things Purdue has to make sure and emphasize to even have a chance to get out of Gloomington with a win.

1) Defend the guards - I know Bryson was a hero from last game, but the Boilermakers cannot afford for Jon Octeus to only play 16 minutes tonight. He has to be in there to harass Yogi for 30+. Obviously it goes without saying that Raphael needs to again be dominant defensively whether he's on Yogi, Blackmon, or Johnson.

2) Guys have to be ready to step up - It's not named the Hall of Calls for no reason. Like I said above I will be shocked if Purdue enjoys the same advantages from the foul line and from a foul perspective as it did in West Lafayette. If one of the Boiler's horses gets 2 quick ones someone is going to have to step up. It happened in Mackey, but asking a reserve to give big productive minutes on the road at IU is a whole different animal.

3) Make shots - Duh right? Really though, if IU learned anything from watching other teams play Purdue it should be to throw the kitchen sink at AJ and Isaac and let most of our guys shoot it from deep. It's going to be up to Dakota, Kendall, and Vince to make them pay. Would be nice for Ray to throw in one or two also, but I'm perfectly OK with him focusing on Defense tonight.


Purdue really needs a road win to solidify even being in the discussion of being safely in the NCAA Tournament, that much is clear (hopefully you followed my train of thought there). One would think that their best shot at getting that road win might just be tonight against a team they thoroughly dominated at home. It's just really hard for me to imagine IU not making shots tonight, and if they do it's tough to combat 3's with 2's. I'll pick the home team in the God awful pants and hope like hell I'm wrong.

80-71 IU

17-10; 9-5

Boiler Up. Hammer Down. Hail Purdue.

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Boilermaker Basketball Pre-Game Primer: Ohio State

Wins tonight by Purdue and Penn State would put the Boilermakers in sole possession of 2nd place in the current Big Ten standings. Just let that marinate for a minute.

Even if Maryland holds serve at home like they should, it would still be us and the Terps at 7-3 in league play.

Needless to say, tonight's game is huge for Purdue. Win this and you're officially on people's radar as winners of 4 straight with 3 coming against ranked opponents.

While Joe Lunardi has Purdue just barely sniffing an at-large bid, if the Boilers don't get this one tonight it will likely take a road win somewhere along the line at IU, OSU, or MSU to get back in the discussion. I just can't overstate how big tonight is for this team's postseason hopes. Not a must-win but man would it be big.

Here's the breakdown:

Wednesday, February 4th
6:30pm Tipoff - Mackey Arena
Purdue vs Ohio State

Projected Starters
     C     AJ Hammons          Junior         7'0''     AJ seems to have found some sort of revelation. We don't know why but I for one am not going to spend much time trying to figure it out. Just enjoy it right now. For someone that couldn't go 60 seconds without a turnover for the better part of 2+ years he's been tremendous with only 2 in his last 4 games. For what it's worth, Isaac Haas seems much more comfortable coming off the bench too. The way these 2 are playing right now is how we and Coach Painter envisioned them playing all year. Better late than never no? Tonight, much like the past 2 games AJ and Isaac can again dominate, as OSU has some bigs but not really anyone that impacts a game much.
     F     Vince Edwards        Freshman    6'7''     Tonight is a matchup Vince will revel in, going against his home state team. A team that didn't think he was good enough to recruit. Clearly Edwards is good enough and has a shot tonight in front of a home crowd that should be in a frenzy to go out and prove it. Vince will need to be on his game defensively tonight as he could see a variety of assignments from the physical Jae-Sean Tate to ultra-athletic Sam Thompson. Either way he really needs to be active on the glass and make sure to get in good position and not just jump for the ball.
     F     Raphael Davis         Junior          6'5''     What else is there to say about Raphael? While AJ Hammons resurgence has been a pleasant surprise, Davis has been the unquestioned catalyst for Purdue's run of late. His tenacious defense and suddenly uber efficient offense have been exactly what the Boilers needed. Congrats Ray! Your prize? D'Angelo Russell who will more than likely be a top 5 pick in the upcoming NBA draft. I for one think Raphael is going to be up for the task, especially at home. A couple stops, the shot clock gets down late, and the crowd gets into it and Purdue will be in business. Continuing to stick the occasional 3 would help too.
     G     Dakota Mathias      Freshman    6'4''     Looks like this might just be a permanent change to Purdue's starting lineup. I for one like how the ball moves when Mathias is in there, and you have to think his jumper is going to eventually start to fall right?? Also worth noting is that in Matt Painter's weekly radio show he mentioned liking Kendall Stephen's firepower off the bench; so take that how you will. Regardless Dakota is clearly the healthiest he's been since he stepped on campus which has also allowed him to make strides defensively. Anyone else get really really pumped when his D on Yogi led directly to a turnover?
    G     Jon Octeus                Senior          6'4''     Octeus had a nice bounce back offensive game against Northwestern, but it's not like he was bad against Indiana and Iowa. JO continues to be rock solid, and how pretty was that back-cut and dunk against the Wildcats? Tonight he will probably see some time on Russell to spell Davis as well as battle Buckeyes senior point guard Shannon Scott. Scott is no slouch so Octeus will need to stay on his toes and not immediately help if Russell gets loose.

Ohio State
     C    Amir Williams                           Senior          6'11''
     F    Sam Thompson                           Senior         6'7''
     F    Jae-Sean Tate                              Freshman    6'4''
     G    D'Angelo Russell                        Freshman   6'5''
     G    Shannon Scott                            Senior          6'1''
The Buckeyes come in tied with Purdue in the Big Ten standings at 6-3, with an overall record of 17-5, and currently ranked #20 nationally. 6 days removed from their last game (a beatdown of Maryland) they should be well-rested and ready to go tonight. While Ohio State does a lot well under Thad Matta, the one big thing to know about is freshman phenom D'Angelo Russell. He leads the conference in scoring at over 19ppm. There are other very capable playmakers on the roster like Tate and reserve Marc Loving, but the key here will be how Purdue handles Russell. Ohio State has some big men on the roster, but likes to play smaller if the matchups allow. I do expect to see Amir Williams get a lot of run tonight to combat Purdue's 2 imposing centers, but don't be surprised if you see them go small at some point.

Points of Percolation

1) How will Purdue play D'Angelo Russell: Do you try and lock him down the best you can and make everyone else beat you? Or do you stay home on the help side, let him get his which he will probably get anyways, and shut down the rest of the team? It is a very interesting dilemma, and I for one would probably play this one straight up. I think Davis and Octeus will be able to slow him down some, but he's too good to take out of the game entirely. You can't let one of the peripheral players get hot and go off. I say stay home and if/when he hits NBA shots, so be it.

2) Points in the Paint: One thing Purdue has been very good at in the last 3 games is scoring in the paint, and with guys other than their 2 centers too. Hammons and Haas have been great and very efficient, but it's the dribble drives, the transition buckets, and second chance points that have won Purdue 3 in a row. The Boilers need to continue getting a lot of looks in the paint by everyone on the floor. Keep pounding away at the interior and Purdue should be able to get to the free throw line, where they have been much improved recently as well.

3) The Ohio Guys: Vince and Dakota will be fired up for this one. I have a feeling this game is as emotional for them as the IU game was for the Boilers in-state players. I will be shocked if one of them doesn't have a great performance tonight.


Purdue is on a roll right now. The home crowd should again be fantastic, and that will be huge at those key moments when the Boilers need a stop on D. The Buckeyes are, to me, similar to IU in that they have that one big time scorer, they like to get to the foul line, and they like to push the tempo. The difference is that I don't think OSU is as good of a perimeter shooting team. For some reason I have a feeling the Boilers keep it going tonight and are able to put another top 25 win on the board.

72-62 Purdue


Boiler Up. Hammer Down. Hail Purdue. 

Wednesday, January 28, 2015


The title is short and sweet, but it's to the point.
Purdue put on a show tonight. A lot of credit goes to Matt Painter for having an excellent game plan for the hated Hoosiers. The Boilers were executing at a good-but-not-great rate on the offensive end, scoring 83 points at a 58.7 percent rate. Defensively, Rapheal Davis and Bryson Scott led Purdue with an absolutely dominant and suffocating effort.

Everyone's talking about A.J. Hammons' unbelievable career high; eight blocked shots is pretty incredible. But more credit should go to Davis, who is emerging as a glue guy and strong leader for Purdue. He led the team in scoring with 19 points. Five rebounds, a block and a steal can be added to his impressive outing. 

Photo belongs to
And Basil Smotherman - we can't forget him. The sophomore is Purdue's most athletic player and continues to blossom. Eight points isn't eye-popping, but his explosive transition buckets helped the Boilers build a strong early lead that they would never relinquish. 

So not only did Purdue do what it had to had some help from fans who brought it at a level that hasn't been seen in years. Boiler Nation loves beating Indiana, and it loves beating the stuffing out of them even more. The Paint Crew was magnificent. From the giant flag during player introductions to a constant roar that bounced from Mackey Arena's tin roof, the students did everything they could to help this team along.

The rest of the crowd (myself included) spent most of the game on its feet. Indiana had one run to get within ten in the second half, but Purdue quickly erased doubt with another flurry. The faithful fans in black upped the building's decibel level again and again as the Boilers put away the Hoosiers. 

The thing I loved most came after the final buzzer sounded, when a pumped Hammons was tackled by Isaac Haas, a freshman from Alabama who didn't seem to know much about the rivalry before tonight. I think this team is starting to grow and develop together as a unit. With the leadership Purdue's juniors are showing, maybe this team can do better than we thought. 

The Boilermakers are now No. 5 in the Big Ten with almost half of the conference season over. There's a tough test ahead Saturday at Northwestern; the Wildcats have lost a ton of heartbreaking games this season but are looking to pull through as soon as possible. 

Purdue might be doing that now. At least, I hope so. In the meantime, I'll try to recover from Mackey Voice. 

Let's keep this ball rolling. 

P.S. That video on the right was a thing once. 

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Boilermaker Basketball Pre-Game Primer: that other school

And they say we have ugly girls.... 

Hate week is almost over, and tomorrow night we find out if this rivalry is going to continue with the trend of swapping blowout wins or if it gets back to the classic barn burner style.

Much like Jackson, I too hate the crimson athletics with every fiber of my being. I could go on and on with creative name calling and colorful insults and would honestly love every second of it. But I'm an Xs and Os guy, and when the biggest games of the year feature 2 teams that could not in any way shape or form be more different, well, that's what I want to talk about.

Here's the breakdown:

Wednesday, January 28th
9:00pm Tipoff - Mackey Arena
Purdue vs Bloomington YMCA 

Projected Starters
Good Guys
     C     AJ Hammons          Junior         7'0''     Regardless of who starts between the 2 centers, this is undoubtedly the biggest point of intrigue I have going into the game tomorrow. Hammons easily has better foot speed defensively than Haas, but against a player like Hartman who really isn't going to take you off the bounce I'm not sure that matters a whole lot. Hammons is going to have to be locked in, smart, and efficient. On defense he will be asked to get out and challenge shooters and help off of guard penetration. On offense is where Purdue absolutely has to have an efficient AJ Hammons. For size to win out over skill AJ and Isaac have to punish Hartman and Holt both at the rim and from the free throw line.
     F     Vince Edwards        Freshman    6'7''     Edwards needs to do one thing and one thing only to get back on track: rebound. Earlier in the year he was a terror, generating efficient buckets off of offensive rebounds and pushing the ball up in transition off of defensive rebounds. Well, the Boilermakers have struggled mightily in the rebounding column these past 2 games and Edwards needs to help be an answer going forward. In tomorrow's game it will be imperative that he both uses his body to box out and gives his all going after each loose ball to try and offset some of the things Troy Williams can do with his freakish athleticism. If Edwards rebounds, the scoring will come.
     F     Raphael Davis         Junior          6'5''     I can't tell you how happy I was for Raphael Davis to have the kind of night he had against Iowa. I was especially critical of both him and of playing him so much seeing that defenses simply did not have to guard him which killed our spacing and post feed lanes. From all accounts he has been in the gym tirelessly working on his jumper, and it absolutely won Purdue the game on Saturday. It will be interesting to see who Davis guards. Do you put him on the 6'4'' Blackmon and try to rattle the freshman with physicality? Or perhaps rotate Davis and Octeus on Yogi so you always have a fresh body to throw at him. Not sure, but whoever he's guarding you know Davis is going to give it his all, like a true Boilermaker.
     G     Kendall Stephens     Sophomore  6'6''     Matt Painter isn't making any excuses for Stephens play against Iowa, so I suppose I won't either. If he's out there he needs to be more effective. Kendall seems to be one to rise to big moments, and it's going to be imperative that he knocks down some perimeter shots tomorrow to keep the red team from swarming down on our bigs. He's a crucial spacer as well as our leading scorer, so it's hard to overstate 1) how impressive Purdue's win vs Iowa really was with him not being a factor and 2) how much Purdue is going to need the firepower he brings when he's on tomorrow night.
    G     Jon Octeus                Senior          6'4''     I am assuming JO is going to draw the other half of the 2-headed monster that is the opposing backcourt. A week ago I would have said great, put him on Yogi, he will be solid, Yogi will still get some of his because he's that good, and worry about something else. But after watching Mike Gesell rip him to shreds for about 10 straight possessions I'm not quite as confident. Octeus is going to have to be careful in this game of crashing the offensive glass too hard as well, as the opposition likes to get out and run in transition.

Clappy's Crusaders
     F     Collin Hartman                          Sophomore  6'7''
     F    Troy Williams                             Sophomore  6'7''
     G    Robert Johnson                           Freshman    6'3''
     G    Yogi Ferrell                                Junior          6'0''
     G    James Blackmon Jr                     Freshman    6'4''
This team comes in as one of the nation's top 3 point shooting teams (8th at 41%) and one of the highest scoring teams as well (12th at 81.4 ppg). You get the picture right? They like to shoot it, they shoot it well, and they score a lot. In a lot of respects losing Hanner Mosquera-Perea seems to have helped this team forget about worrying to involve the post at all and just do what they do best which is perimeter oriented uptempo basketball, and they have had a lot of success so far in league play doing that. They come into this contest 1 game ahead of Purdue in the vice grip tight Big Ten standings at 5-2 after last week blowing out Maryland at home and dropping a road contest to Ohio State. This is a good team that has certainly improved a lot as the season has gone on.

Points of Percolation

1) The Key to it All: Collin Hartman. No really. He is shooting something in the neighborhood of 99.999% since being inserted into the starting rotation as that undersized stretch 4/5 guy. The way I see it this will be a race to see who can get who in foul trouble faster. If Purdue is able to get 1 or 2 early on Hartman, the Boilermakers defensive gameplan becomes much more simple with Emmit Holt on the floor. But if Purdue's big men are unable to get Hartman out of the game by physically dominating him or by foul trouble and/or get in foul trouble themselves that's going to spell trouble for the Boilers. I think you will find out in the first 6-10 minutes of the game if Purdue is going to be able to effectively leverage their size, or if they will have to alter their game plan and go small a-la Ohio State.

2) Re-freaking-bound: In no universe should 14 feet 2 inches of center account for 16 rebounds total in 2 games. By comparison Gabriel Olaseni had that many by himself for Iowa Saturday. Purdue's big men are just flat out dropping the ball (pun intended) on the 2 most basic elementary aspects of effective rebounding: locate your man to put a body on him and go as hard as you can after the ball once it comes off the rim. That's it. Get in better position instead of just standing there hoping being tall will be good enough. Guys like Smotherman, Edwards, Octeus, and Davis need to do their part as well, but Purdue's gigantic rebound disparity these past 2 games rests solely on the shoulders of the big men. They just have to be better in that regard tomorrow night.

3) Get. Mackey. Rocking: You all heard it in last year's rivalry game. You heard it earlier this year against NC State. We need a sold out Boiler crowd going absolutely nuts for all 40 minutes. What's the easiest way to do this? Hustle and effort. Purdue fans recognize and appreciate the little things like pressuring the ball handler, diving for loose balls, and forcing shot clock violations. Give them a reason to go bananas. Oh and a few Kid Stephens 3 balls wouldn't hurt either. Intensity, effort, and focus. Opening tip to final horn.


Recent history tells us this should be a double digit win for one of the teams, and with such contrasting styles I could see that happening if one squad just executes at an incredibly high level. I'm not going there this year though. Purdue is going to give up some 3s, they will give up some points in transition, and some at the rim. But, I think this Boilermaker team will execute well enough in the post to open space for shooters outside. A few threes fall, a couple big men dunks, and we're in business. Neutral floor I probably have a different prediction, but with Mackey Arena hopping I will go with the home team tomorrow night in a huge momentum victory.

78-72 Old Gold and Black.


Boiler Up. Hammer Down. Hail Purdue. 

Why I Hate Indiana

Maybe you don't care what I think.

Frankly, if you're an Indiana fan, you shouldn't. I'm biased. 

I will say that as a school, Indiana University is a fantastic institution. You won't hear me say anything bad about their stellar law, business or music schools. All of that is wonderful and they make the Big Ten proud in that regard. My sister is probably about to begin her college career at IU and I couldn't be more proud. 

But the happiness and cheers stop when we get to sports. 

I hate Indiana. 

Exhibit A 
I hate candy-striped pants. 

I hate a fanbase that can't even support its own football program. 

I hate conceited folks who brag about banners that were won before they were born. 

You get the idea. I'm about as anti-crimson as it gets. The term people use to describe those who live in this state is offensive to me. You'll likely notice that, near the comments section of this blog, the option for disliking posts is labeled "Hoosier-ish"...and that isn't by accident. 

I grew up in a Boilermaker family. Growing up, the majority of my peers were Indiana fans. In this state, where basketball is at its peak in popularity, it's personal. I think the same could be said for IU fans; the history these two schools share on the hardwood is deep. 

To me, Purdue-Indiana is about pride...and the stakes, as well as the rest of Purdue's shaky season, are on the line Wednesday night.  I'm no longer a student, I remember how special this game was every year. Even when Purdue struggled in the 2012-13 season, the IU game drew a packed house. The student line went all the way behind Ross-Ade Stadium. 

Tonight, students are already camping out. Mackey Arena is officially sold out. You can bet that I'll be there...and I'm planning to lose my voice cheering on Purdue to a win it has to have. 

We are Purdue. 

And this is our state.