It's been a while since I felt this bad.
Sitting in Mackey Arena last night while Purdue absolutely shit the bed against Duke was a an arduous journey through fandom. There weren't any boo birds that I could hear, but there were some uber-critical folks in attendance. There were even some assholes who threw things onto the court (by the way, if that's you I say again, "Go fuck yourself.") But the majority of us were locked into that gut-wrenching malaise that watching your beloved team fall apart can so often draw out.
Purdue was run out of the gym from the get-go. Much can be said about the stiffled start. Duke's quick assault. Purdue's numerous missed layups. Purdue's equally numerous turnovers. All in all it's the same story: you get down early, the opposition then dictates your attack and your lineup. Without luck at that point, it's a Herculean effort to right the ship, and all credit to Duke who was obviously running their game plan to perfection (just ask Hummel and Smooge).
The rebounding edge was abysmal, as was 3-point shooting, but I think those issues don't manifest themselves if Purdue isn't down 7-0. For whatever reason, each game this season has had a flat opening portion that either let teams like Coppin St. hang around or lets juggernauts like Duke run away with the victory.
What to do?
First things first: this isn't the end of the world. Purdue will have more than enough time and experience to get ready for the Big Ten let alone the post-season. I have full faith in Coach Painter that he'll find room to improve the poor defense and lackluster offense of the previous night.
Next, something must be done to quell this tide of underwhelming first halves before Michigan St. mops the floor with us. I think the obvious change must come in the starting lineup. Look all you want, you're not going to find more height or strength on that bench. Instead start LewJack instead of JaJuan for more speed, or Nemenja for more strength. Morris Peterson was Big Ten player of the year coming off of the bench. It's not really an insult to enter the game at the 17:00 minute mark if it will stop us from losing to quality opponents.
Finally, we the faithful need to keep coming out to games even if it is Arkansas - Pine Bluff. The electricity in Mackey last night was phenomenal, until the meltdown of course. Keep cheering for this team. They're still in the driver's seat for the Big Ten Championship.
They just got the shit beat out of them last night. And, oh yeah, it sucked.