Boiler Up

Well, that was fun, woke up this morning and could only go to Google, amazing what a broken firewall can do for you. Seems to be working now, though. Yay! So an easy one for today, since I’m already a few hours late with my schedule. 😦

From DC Whispers.

New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees has had one of the longest and most productive NFL careers ever. He’s a devoted family man who donates both considerable time and his own money to a multitude of community causes that benefit people of all races and socio-economic backgrounds.

He’s also a Christian and for that, he’s now being targeted by the radical fringe left who want him run out of the NFL for advocating that kids take their Bibles to school with them.

Yes, you read that right. This is the thinking of some in America who are totally devoted to a totalitarian, far-left group-think mentality that wants to destroy anything different than themselves.

Isn’t that special? Increasingly that is the world today, it will change but when is hard to tell, and it may get worse before it gets better. But it’s not everyone. Brees is one of my fellow Boilers, and even before we became the Cradle of Astronauts we were the Cradle of Quarterbacks if you’re my age you might remember Len Dawson or Bob Griese.

But Purdue has always been about more than football (or basketball) and while Drew Brees may be one of the immortal quarterbacks (he is), three Purdue QBs are playing in the NFL. This is from Purdue.

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. — Every Boilermaker is aware of the prowess Drew Brees possesses on the football field. Now, the Purdue graduate is being honored for his activities away from football.

Brees is one of 33 business school graduates honored by AACSB International – the world’s largest business education alliance — as the 2019 Class of Influential Leaders. The annual challenge recognizes notable alumni from AACSB-accredited schools whose inspiring work serves as a model for the next generation of business leaders.

Brees is a 2001 graduate of Purdue University’s Krannert School of Management. In addition to setting NFL records with the New Orleans Saints, he founded the Brees Dream Foundation, which has contributed almost $25 million to improve the quality of life for people around the world since its inception in 2003.

One example of Brees’ efforts to help his community is his support of the Team Gleason House in New Orleans, named for Steve Gleason, a former Saints teammate who was diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). The house is equipped with the latest computer-operated technologies to allow individuals with ALS the highest independence possible. Brees’ foundation also helped fund improvements to Joe Brown Park, transforming it into a world-class regional park to enable children and families to be healthy and active.

Brees’ reach extends beyond New Orleans. In 2011, he was appointed an ambassador for the World Food Programme, a United Nations branch and the world’s largest humanitarian organization to fight against hunger. He supports high schools around the nation through the Drew Brees Passing Academy and 7-on-7 Tournament, and his work with Convoy of Hope has helped support families that were adversely affected by Hurricane Sandy.

Brees was named the Sports Illustrated Sportsman of the Year in 2010 and was described as “an athlete as adored and appreciate as any in an American city today.” He also has become a successful entrepreneur; in 2018, he came in at No. 17 in the Forbes list of the world’s highest-paid athletes.

“AACSB is honored to recognize Drew Brees and congratulates Purdue University for its role in preparing alumni who are leading examples of business education as a force for good in the world,” said Thomas R. Robinson, president and CEO of AACSB. “The diversity of backgrounds, industries and career paths of the 2019 Class of Influential Leaders demonstrates that AACSB-accredited schools are preparing graduates to succeed wherever their passions may take them.”

Now in its fourth year, the Influential Leaders challenge has recognized almost 200 business school graduates for creating lasting impact in business and society. All honorees have earned an undergraduate, graduate or doctoral degree from one of the more than 800 AACSB-accredited business schools worldwide. Brees is the fourth Krannert graduate to be recognized, joining Beth Brooke-Marciniak (2015), Carolyn Woo (2015) and Shawn Taylor (2016).

Can’t speak for you, but I’m quite happy to be associated even in this distant way to Drew Brees, and Grubb and his ilk, need a football where the sun don’t shine – sideways.

And about the Purdue Vanderbilt game today, I have a prediction – The Gold and Black will win. I just don’t know which shade. 🙂

Full Steam Ahead

I think most of you know I’m a Purdue alum, and a fan. I have been since I was a kid, and Duncan Meter gave dad tickets to a game every year. Nor did it hurt that my Brother in law whom I idolized to a large extent was an alum. While I applied to a few schools, including Notre Dame, and was accepted by them all, my heart was set on Purdue (likely to dad’s relief since it is a state school). I’ve never regretted it.

But being a Boiler has its downsides. We often have teams that are good, but not good enough. We are the school that graduated Len Dawson, Bob Griese, and Drew Brees, not to mention The Coach, himself, John Wooden, but we often fall short of quite being as good as we should be. This fall the first year of the Jeff Brohm era assuaged a lot of angst, but being from Indiana in the glory years of the no classes high school tournament nothing quite stirs the blood like basketball, remember Rick Mount? – we all do and the ‘Hurrying Hoosiers’ be damned.

And so, Matt Painter’s Boiler basketball team this year has been a dream. 27 and 8, 14 and 4 in the conference, including this weeks victory over Michigan, also one of the top 5 teams in the country, well the sky has become the limit. Anything less than a second consecutive Big Ten championship would be a letdown, and a win in the NCAA looks possible.

Purdue fans have low expectations, we are a lot like Cubs fans, we expect the worst and barely dare hope for anything better, but this may be our year. I’m not the only one either, Travis Miller over at Hammer and Rails is thinking like I am.

For 37 years we have seen nothing but failure in March on some level. We have failed to reach the promised land of a Final Four, let alone a title. In a way, the NCAA Tournament is, indeed, a crapshoot. If Connecticut can win a championship as a 7 seed in 2014 while dozens of better overall teams have not. Being excellent over 35 games is certainly a better barometer of greatness than having one bad night in March, but the system is what it is.

And this team is good enough to finally break through.

Last night convinced me of that. I don’t know what will happen in the final 9 games, the Big Ten Tournament, or the NCAAs. We have anywhere from 11 to 18 games left to watch this team, but it is a special team and these remaining games need to be savored. We could hit a tailspin, lose the Big Ten, lose the first game in New York in the Big Ten Tournament, and get bounced in the NCAAs in round 1 for a disappointing final 11 games. We could win all 19 and go down as one of the greatest teams in NCAA history.

Yes, that is on the table. We’re that good, and that is what I want to talk about.

There is a sense of “if not this year, will this thing ever happen?” with this team, but last night I finally started to let my guard down. I think it happened because Michigan is one of the few teams in the country that has the personnel to challenge us matchup-wise. Mo Wagner’s ability to play on the perimeter and their offensive scheme to run screens and switches to draw our bigs from the basket create a unique problem. Last night I said they were laying the blueprint in how to beat Purdue. For a 10 minute stretch of the second half they were scoring at will. They negated Purdue’s size advantage on defense by pulling Isaac Haas and Matt Haarms away from the basket. This created open looks from three for a team that loves to shoot threes and it created driving lanes for Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman. Michigan shot 60% form the floor, Abdur-Rahkman had a monster game of 26 points and hit 6 threes. The Wolverines scored 88 points and were so good offensively they knocked Purdue from the top 5 nationally on KenPom all the way to 10th.

Think about that for a moment. Purdue is one of the best defensive teams in the country. They do this without turning the game into a quagmire like Virginia. Through 21 games we had a top 3 defense and one game against Michigan was enough of an outlier to cause a seven spot drop. Michigan has figured out how to score on Purdue and they even did it in the dungeon of noise that is Mackey Arena. During that ridiculous stretch the crowd was trying to ramp higher and higher to will a stop and Michigan had an answer. If you watch the replay you heard this several times:

Crowd: “(ramping up as Michigan took possession after Purdue scored) hrrrrrrrrRRRRRAAAAAAAAAAA!!!!!!!! AWWWWwwwwwwww (ramping down as someone, usually Abdur-Rahkman, hit a three.)

Michigan was one of the few teams to answer Purdue and figure out our defense. Dylan over at UM Hoops explained just how good they were:

Michigan and Purdue are two teams that are completely ill-equipped to guard each other and that was never more clear than the first 10 minutes of the second half.

Michigan played its best offensive game of the season* on the road against the No. 3 ranked defense in the country. The Wolverines posted an impressive 72% effective field goal percentage, making 63% of their twos and 57% of their threes.

It’s hard to complain about turning the ball over on 17% of possessions, but Michigan’s giveaways seemed to come in the most critical spots. The Wolverines also rebounded 36% of their missed shots for 19 second chance points.

The offense might not have scored every possession down the stretch, but Michigan should beat any team in the country if it scores 1.35 points per possession. Prior to this game, the best offensive performance by a Big Ten team in a losing effort this year was Illinois scoring 1.17 points per possession against Iowa.

Big Ten teams that score 1.15 points per possession or better are 27-1 in league play. Before tonight, only three teams — Michigan State vs. Maryland, Ohio State vs. Maryland and Purdue vs. Iowa — had scored more than 1.35 points per possession in a league game.

Think about that. Michigan’s offense was so absurdly good it was in the top 5 of any offensive performance in all Big Ten play this year. They just happened to do it against one of the other top 5 offensive performances in conference play, and it was by far the best effort out of a losing team. It did this on the road against one of the nation’s best defenses, in one of the toughest road environments in the country. They scored 88 points when Purdue hadn’t given up more than 70 against anyone anywhere since December 1st at Maryland.

All that says Purdue probably should have lost this game, but it didn’t because the Boilers had an answer every time, and an already excellent offense got better. The first 10:50 of the second half was an absolute joy to watch if you’re a basketball fan. The teams didn’t just trade baskets, they traded haymakers. Purdue’s first two possessions of the half were made threes by Dakota Mathias and P.J. Thompson. The teams scored on a combined 13 of 15 possessions in the first five minutes alone. By the 9:10 mark the lead had changed hands 13 times on 13 straight possessions where a team made a basket. Michigan was playing out of its mind, much like how Minnesota (and specifically Nate Mason) played last year when the Gophers won in Mackey. It was basketball at its highest level and it was punctuated by a three from Vince Edwards with 9:10 left that tied the game 68-68.

Well, we’ll have to wait and see, but in watching Purdue since about the time of the Rose Bowl trip with Griese as quarterback, I’ve rarely been as hopeful. What a fall and winter it has been.

And the best part, in my opinion, is that there is no real star, it’s a team effort every time. The way it should be.

The Coach would be proud, I remember those UCLA teams, sometimes they had a star but they were always a team. just as the Franklin Wonder Five was that The Coach idolized.

Boiler Up

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