Thursday, January 15, 2009

How The Hell Did That Happen?

I still can't figure it out.

How in the hell did Purdue pull out that game tonight? And while we're at it, why haven't I found spare minutes to comment on anything since the dawn of the Big Ten season?

Regardless, tonight's victory, another for all intents and purposes must-win, keeps the Boilers on track to meet that litany of goals the faithful carved up at the beginning of the season.

Trust me (and my neighbors who no doubt heard the screams) the signs weren't there tonight that Purdue could pull even in the Big Ten, pick up an important road win, and keep up the momentum gained in the dismantling of Wisconsin. 22 turnovers. 1 of 6 free throw shooting in the first half. Numerous bailout fouls or unlucky hand checks miles from the basket. Nothing was pointing toward a win.

But it happened. In spite of the LewJack luster wearing off (seriously, what the hell did he bring to the table tonight?) In spite of a few scary spills, falls, and facial expressions from Robbie Hummel. I wonder how healed that back is.

The Boilers did it with some unfamiliar story lines. Kramer was vying for the top scorer's spot and dropped in 12. Moore led the team ripping out 11 rebounds, some big ones down the stretch.

Still, the further I ponder I think much can be said for one storyline and one moment. Kramer made a heady and sneaky play to strip a Wildcat of the ball, drive the length of the court, and make the bucket despite an intentional foul. Two free throws later Purdue is looking at its first thoughts of resurrection. Secondly, Johnson's 7 blocks and the team's 11 overall bailed the defense out of numerous jams. Responding to recent success, Johnson's overall solid performance continues. Check out tonight's line going with the blocks: 11 points, 9 rebounds. Not too flashy, but every bit of inside scoring and made free throws was needed.

However, the Johnson story of the evening and the game in miniature came with 2.2 seconds on the clock. Purdue leads by 1, and after much discussion, Matt Painter takes my wife's and my advice and tells JJ to intentionally miss the free throw. Whatever shot Northwestern was going to get would be a three so what good is a 2-point lead? Have it rattle out and hope to eat valuable ticks tipping the ball around 94 feet from the Northwestern goal.

JJ threw up an ugly, flat shot that slid right over the rim, off the backboard and through the net. You could easily see Chris Kramer's disgust and Keaton Grant's frantic rush to guard the defender. It seems that the Boilers really hadn't planned on making the basket much like that didn't look like they were going to win for 19 minutes.

Next thing you know, a Northwestern airball sails through the buzzer blast and the Boilers run out of town with stolen victory.

How the hell did that happen?

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