Simply put…… WE ARE THE BIGTEN CHAMPIONS!!!! First time since 1996 when we finished off a three-peat, and this one is extremely impressive because of the loss of Hummel. We basically won 3 of 4 games without Hummel so far with the win @ Minn, vs IU, and @ PSU. And, people can say this win wasn’t anything against a horrible recorded Penn State team, but they are nuts. This is a team who took MSU to the buzzer and lost by 2 @ MSU. This is now our teams 22nd Big10 Championship to lead all teams in the conference.
How in the world is Penn State as bad as they are record wise? Can anyone answer this question? I certainly can not answer the question because they look like they should be in Illinois spot in the Big10 rankings. Taylor Battle is always fantastic, and I wish him the best. It looked like he suffered a concussion by his own team-mate and I hope he makes it back for the Big10 tourney. Also, I have never seen any team hit SO many threes from 5 feet beyond the three point line! These threes kept Penn State close enough to strike, but they fell short. I think Battle will definitely be back next year and I have a feeling this team will be NCAA bound and in the Big10 race.
What can I really say about the Boilers? Maybe because I am too excited and happy over winning the title; I am finding it hard to find words. The Player of the Game for me is split for the first time. It has to go to both Keaton Grant and Jujuan Johnson without doubt. Grant scored 17 points and hit 5 three pointers which he will have to continue to shoot come tourney time; I can forgive him for the horrible free-throw at the end of the game since he is shooting close to 80% on the season from the stripe. JJ was remarkable scoring 21, adding 10 rebounds, and of course 11 of 14 from the charity stripe; he also added a handful of blocks, and impressed me with how he ran the floor on fast-breaks which is rare from big guys. Moore looked a little off today, but luckily we didn’t need his normal double digit scoring, and he showed his leadership at the end when he hit both free-throws to extend the lead to 3 points. I do believe this broke a 20+ game streak of double digit scoring for Etwaun, but hopefully he starts another in the next game (which I will be at). BTW, do you think Moore called the bank on his last shot, lol? Kramer’s scoring came down today to only 6 points, but he is still the heart of this team with his constant pressure and tough play. He never ever gives up on a play regardless of what’s going on. The play where he turned the ball over but intercepted the pass for a layup is a perfect example. He also did something extremely rare in the game today. On offense the defense gave him at least 8 feet of room beyond the three point line, so Kramer drove in, stopped, popped from mid-range and nailed it for 2 points. Also, I lost count of how many times Kramer stripped the ball from somebody today with his famous slap down move. Hart had some good early contributions, and unfortunately rolled his ankle in the second half. I hope he is okay and a few days rest is all that is needed. My play of the game was none other then Barlow’s monster put back SLAM off of Ljack’s missed three-pointer. If I had a link to show you the play I would, hopefully you are able to see it at some point.
Free-throws were again a problem for our team, but it was extremely weird. Barlow of course missed both of his, but the first two that Moore shot were off, and the only attempt by Grant barely nipped the rim. Grant and Moore are pretty reliable from the line, so I am actually not worried about the free-throws as long as JJ can keep hitting his. And, I know it is a slim margin but Purdue out rebounded Penn State 29 to 27, and what is impressive is Penn State has had a positive rebound margin for their season average. Of course we won the turnover battle again, but it was close at only 15 to 12. I think it will be key to make this margin even bigger when we play better teams, but this is Purdue so I am not worried about the defense. Purdue is defense, period!
Sorry for a some what short recap, but I will be around waiting for conversations.
Boiler-Up…..2010 Big10 CHAMPS!!!!
P.S. I just bought my tickets today and I will be sitting in section 9!