Rebuilding is never easy on any level for any sports team, whether it be college or pro. Too often as fans we look just at the Won – Lost records from year-to-year to form our opinions of how that team did or didn’t do. Sometimes when programs enjoy such a sustained success we as fans start to think the worse when there is a losing season or two.
That type of thinking has started to creep into the conversation of Purdue basketball fans who have had to endure some lackluster seasons of late. Make no mistake that Purdue is a storied school steep in basketball history, producing countless moments of great players and seasons. Unfortunately the lack of success with recent teams of late has had fans starting to think the program might actually be in a downward spiral. Yes, they have won over 50% of their games but check out the last couple of seasons for the Black and Gold and where they eventually finished.
|2007||Matt Painter||22–12||9–7||4th||NCAA Second Round|
|2008||Matt Painter||25–9||15–3||2nd||NCAA Second Round|
|2009||Matt Painter||27–10||11–7||2nd||NCAA Sweet Sixteen|
|2010||Matt Painter||29–6||14–4||1st||NCAA Sweet Sixteen|
|2011||Matt Painter||26–8||14–4||2nd||NCAA Third Round|
|2012||Matt Painter||22-13||10-8||6th||NCAA Third Round|
Some may say there is nothing wrong with the program, after all they ARE winning. But just winning in the regular season is one thing, it is the postseason that gets the most attention. Going one and done as in recent seasons has to have fans wondering when are they ever going to get to the next level. Painter was the right choice to replace Keady as the time. He was bright and insightful and had been building winning teams at Eastern and Southern Illinois. And his early success at Purdue was a welcome relief for followers for the Boiler Nation who had been enduring woeful seasons during Keady’s last 5-6 years.
But the landscape of college basketball has changed dramatically over the last 4-5 years for Indiana schools, especially in recruiting. No longer the push over of decades ago, Butler has enjoyed national success and with the re-birth of IU basketball under the direction of Tom Crean, those schools and others have divided up the talent pool so much that athletes who might have only considered Purdue are now actively being pursued by others. That problem and the fact that the Boilers are not winning or at least winning deep into the post season has allowed for sub par seasons and the absence of coveted High School All-Stars for their program.
If you don’t believe talent doesn’t matter, take a look at the first IU / Purdue matchup this season. A 37 point blow out by the Hoosiers who could have easily scored 125 points if given the green light. And that was with a lot of bench players for IU in the second half. Purdue’s top scorer got 30 that game but the rest of the team: MIA – Missing In Action
Then just days later, Purdue gets whitewashed by Northwestern. Now the Wildcats have never been a power house and for the most part Purdue has owned them, but not this game. Again, another Boilermaker loss with the Coach and team searching for answers. Those two games plus a player disciplinary issue has to make the most staunch fan wonder if Painter has lost control over the team in more ways than just with the X’s and O’s.
Is this season lost? probably so. Is there hope for the future? On paper it seems like Purdue has a decent nucleus to build on, especially with the current freshmen class. Is Painter the right coach still for Purdue? If you like fire and brimstone speeches, then yes, he seems like he is still the best person suited for the job. But talk is cheap and if this team doesn’t back up what the coach is preaching then it will be time to “re-think” the Painter project with him on the sidelines.