Tuesday, February 13, 2007

The Glory Days of Coke Cans Whizzing by Your Head

Ahh, the glory days.

Purdue and Indiana will square off for the second time this season tomorrow evening, once again trying to reignite a rivalry that has more than fizzled in recent memory.

Much can be said for the recent lackluster performance of the Boilermakers and the sad demise of former IU coach Mike Davis, but we all know why the great basketball state of Indiana has endured such malaise.

They're not here.

Gene Keady left Purdue after the 2004-2005 season, some four years after his nemesis Bob Knight was run out of Bloomington. The sheer enigmatic nature of those two greats made any face-off between the schools exhilirating. Now, the faithful, armed with stories of NCAA sanctions and cocky remarks, are doing their best to drive a wedge between Matt Painter and Kelvin Samson.

Hell, this game didn't even make it into ESPN's rivalry week.

The Indiana winter calendar pivoted around these two games, and not just for the fans. If you're not sure how important and life-giving this rivalry was and could be, check out former IU player Todd Leary's account of the aftermath of a loss in West Lafayette during the 91-92 season.

"Coach Knight was as mad as I've ever seen him. All of a sudden he started whipping full cans of Coke and Sprite at us. Then came bananas and cookies and cakes and all kinds of stuff. We were all ducked down in our seats becasue no one wanted to get hit by one of those cans."

After that same game, Knight booted seniors Eric Anderson and Jamaal Meeks from the team for their poor performance. Anderson noted, "He told me and Jamaal that our careers were done because we lost to Purdue."

Add to that the fact that this game likely followed the legendary tirade by Knight in which you're definitely glad you're not Greg Graham.

So it's obvious what Purdue and Indiana need to bring the rivalry back to its former magnificence: bananas and Sprite.

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