Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Purdue Basketball: Enormous Expectations

The preseason prognostications are largely in. Check out a few here, here, and here.

Coach Matt Painter has reiterated that these predictions don't hold much water, and the boys at BoiledSports have pointed out yet again that these preseason accolades are nice to look at but not much more than that. We've yet to play a game.

Still, the informed electorate fanbase is ready to lay their hopes on the line and put some concrete, measurable goals out in the open before the Florida Southern tip. Where to begin though?

I think the expectations shake out like this in order from reasonable to dreamy
  • Winning season
  • Beat Duke
  • Beating the 3 I's: Iowa, Illinois, Indiana (Coach Keady's old seasonal goal*)
  • Winning the pre-season NIT
  • NCAA Tournament berth
  • Big Ten Tournament championship
  • Outright Big Ten title
  • Elite 8
  • Final Four
  • and while we're here, National Championship
There's so much to hope for, and honestly, I don't know where to stop my dreaming. I graduated the spring that Cardinal, Robinson, Jaraan, Carson Cunningham, Greg McQuay et al lost for the fourth third time to Wisconsin and narrowly missed the first Final Four since 1980 - the first I would remember - in Indianapolis and another date with Sparty. Even at the start of that season I didn't have the school-girl giddiness that I do this season.

There's the rub.

I know better than to buy the hype. I know better than to talk Nemanja Calasan-sized smack. I know better. Yet still, I hope.

However, against all good, past-disappointment-informed judgment, I'm drawing my line somewhere near Big Ten title and Elite 8. Let's get started.

*No real understanding why Gene was hell bent on this measure. Was he a closet grammarian enamored with assonance, or did he just like sticking it to Dr. Tom, Lou-Doo, and Bobby?

Friday, October 24, 2008

Here He Comes

You might have heard the news coming out of Arizona; they're in need of a coach.

After a season-long leave of absence, Lute Olson is finally calling it quits, but there's a catch. Olson's one-time successor, Kevin O'Neill, is not in the running for the position seeing as he moved on to the NBA's Memphis Grizzlies.

Mike Dunlap seems to be the
coach of the moment, but I think Arizona will not be too enamoured with Dunlap's Division II pedigree, and will continue their "nationwide search" throughout the season.

Funny, a well-connected coach in the know recently remarked he'd like to
get back onto the sidelines - preferably not in the Big Ten or 12.

Who was that coach? You guessed it...Frank Stallone...Bob Knight.

This will be interesting, to say the least.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Purdue Basketball: Enormous Expectations

Eric Gordon. Really?

Numerous times last season I put on my best face and tried to control my paralinguistics enough to convey sincerity and approached an Indiana fan. I had one question for them. How much will it take?

Indiana had arguably the best guard in the nation in Eric Gordon, and they only had him for one season. There was no doubt that Gordon's time in Bloomington was fleeting, and the Hoosier faithful would only get one chance at...whatever it was they wanted? So I asked, "How much will it take to make you happy?"

Was it a national championship? a deep tournament run? a Big Ten title? What result could leave them satisfied after entering a season with limitless potential.
Interestingly enough, not too many of them had an answer. And all told you so's aside, I don't think the aftermath could have been much worse.

Now's time to pose the question to the Boilermaker faithful: What will it take to leave us fulfilled this basketball season that kicks off Friday with Mackey Madness?

To say that Purdue fans are pumped about the upcoming season would be quite the cliched understatement. Taken within the context of the abysmal football endeavors to date, the basketball horizon is mouth-wateringly exciting. Take a look at these tangibles
  • Multiple nationally televised games
  • Non-conference matchup with Davidson (possibly twice)
  • A berth in the preseason NIT
  • Hosting Duke in the Big Ten - ACC Challenge
  • The lone Indiana game is at Mackey
  • Games against five different Indiana schools
  • A season ending game at potential Big Ten powerhouse Michigan St.
Then we can enter the realm of the borderline ridiculous
  • In a May 2008 visit to Las Vegas, the Caesars sports book had Purdue at an 8/1 opening to win the national title, second to North Carolina's 4/1. I've seen it higher at 20/1
  • The highly touted arrival of Lewis Jackson
  • The immeasurable pressure of surpassing last year's over-achieving squad.
All of this reminds me of an anecdote for Cubs fans: the optimist sees the glass half full, the pessimist half empty. The Cub fan is just waiting for the glass to tip over.

While I don't think the pessimism in West Lafayette is anywhere near that level of futility, it does remind us once again - as if Boiler fans needed to be reminded - be cautious.

What do we want? My enormous expectations tell me I'll take a win over Florida Southern for now.

Chronicle of a Season

In anticipation of this upcoming basketball season, I am planning an ongoing chronicle of the season. It is thus far titled:

Purdue Basketball: Enormous Expectations

I hope to have my first installment up before the Midnight, I mean 5:00pm Madness of this upcoming Friday.

Stay tuned.