Saturday, February 28, 2009
I take full credit for the loss at Michigan. I know, I know, the jinx fell squarely on my shoulders, but I still don't apologize for my excitement.
What I do apologize for is my complete ignorance at how valuable Nemanja Calasan's five fouls are. Put the Bosnia on the bench with the sniffles and opponents need only do one thing, attack JaJuan Johnson with impunity. Johnson's early foul trouble left the ole' aching back playing too much post defense.
No rest for the weary though. Ohio State rolls into West Lafayette today, and hopefully my pilgrimage to Mackey Arena will absolve me from the sins of my jinx. So I'll skip the hypotheticals and stick to relative facts.
There was an obvious defensive breakdown against Michigan that extended beyond the low post. Amazingly, Michigan was getting wide open cherry-pick layups in the second half run that allowed the Wolverines to pull away. Absolutely uncharacteristic for the Boilermakers. Next, Painter pulled Kramer off of Manny Harris and inserted Keaton Grant. Don't get down on Kramer. Harris was hitting shots that should have been in the Bird & Jordan McDonald's commercials. The larger issue there seems to be a quick bout of the Joe Tiller 2008 effect. The opposition makes all of the right adjustments at halftime while Purdue makes all of the wrong or no adjustments.
Purdue is now a 10-point favorite in today's game but still smarting from Thursday's let down and the earlier overtime loss in Columbus. I've not found any definitive word on Calasan's condition, but regardless I hope Painter keeps going as deep as Riddell on the bench.
That Thursday afternoon optimism isn't fully gone. The hopes we had of a healthy squad when Hummel was laid up for a month have now transitioned to a sinus infection in the faux-hawk. Give the Boilers nine healthy players and an Illinois win over the Spartans tomorrow and that should spell a good weekend.
By the way, I just typed that with my fingers crossed. The jinx was jinxed.