Saturday, March 10, 2007

Life on the Bubble: The Wait

"The waiting is the hardest part." - Tom Petty

After today's 63-52 loss to Ohio State, the Purdue Boilermakers find themselves at the end of the greatest turnaround season in school history. They've moved from the abysmal 9-19 to 21-11 and are straddling the cusp of the NCAA tournament.

It could all be for naught if the late season surge doesn't land the Boilermakers in the field of 65 tomorrow evening. The team, the school and the fans will be roundly disappointed in anything beyond an 11-ish seed.

We were treated to a lopsided effort today where the Buckeyes grabbed 18 more rebounds, negated the play of Gordon Watt and Keaton Grant, and each of the 10 turnovers seemed to be compounded into mighty heaps of bad luck and misfortune.

It was tough to see Purdue beaten so soundly after yesterday's dismantling of Iowa, but the worst part was having to listen to the bat-shit crazy ramblings of Billy Packer. Some lowlights:
  • Early in the game OSU's Mike Conley comes streaking into the lane and collides mid-air with a stationary Chris Kramer. Charge or blocking foul. Call something. Packer chimes in with, "Good non-call."
  • In searching for an heir to George Mason, Packer notes the "excellent success" of Winthrop. As opposed to the soul-crushing success Winthrop endured when it won a conference game only by stabbing orphans in the throat at each timeout.
  • At one stretch Packer continually called Greg Oden, "Odom." Nit picky? Yes. But, Billy Packer can cram it with walnuts.
  • Purdue's Keaton Grant strips an OSU player of the ball with a little skin involved. Packer shits himself and cries, "If that's not a foul, I don't know what is." I thought Packer's confusion on the nature of fouls was settled last week.
  • Commenting on Purdue's lack of a free throw attempt in the first half, Packer noted that Purdue was "Zero for zero. 1,000%." For starters, all percentages are fractions and any fraction with zero in the denominator is by definition undefined. In essence, it doesn't exist. Secondly, I'm unaware of any rule that dictates a school's score be multiplied by ten if they've missed nary a free throw. While Wayne Larrivee is still working on that rule, welcome to 7th grade math, Billy.
  • The worst display and the one that hit closest to home was Packer's revisionist hack job recounting the origin of Purdue's nickname. He correctly cited Purdue President James Smart as the catalyst behind the Big Ten conference (nee Western Conference) in 1895. Packer then rambles on loosely hitting the apocryphal story of Purdue using boilermakers from the Monon Shops as ringers on their athletic teams. In truth, a Crawfordsville newspaperman coined the nickname as a slur after Purdue beat the crap out of Wabash in 1891 four years before the Monon Shops existed in Lafayette.

Let the experts have their say. I have half a nerve to drive down Capitol avenue and shout my pleas to the 15th floor of the Westin hotel where sits the all-knowing, all-powerful Selection Committee. I've done worse. Imagine Stanley from A Streetcar Named Desire screaming, "10 Seed!"

In a few short hours the Boilermaker "ever faithful, ever true" will at last know the fate of our cagers. Our time astride the bubble will end, and we'll see if Neil Young was just singing about heroin.

"I've seen the needle and the damage done."

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