Posted by: Bobby “Buckets” Riddell – Guard – 2005-09
Wofford… I’m sure every avid Purdue fan remembers the name of that school and the upset they pulled off in Mackey Arena during my junior season. That was back in 2007 and was the famous year of the “Baby Boilers”. Prior to that upset in 2007, we had just come off of an impressive victory over Louisville in the Wooden Classic. The way our team learned from that upset loss was a key part of that season and eventually helped push us into a 2nd place finish in the Big Ten.
It’s now 2014 and coincidentally enough, Purdue is largely led by another very strong core of freshman and sophomore players that recently sustained a tough upset loss at home to North Florida. I was certainly disappointed to see us lose that game considering we had come off 3 consecutive victories over quality opponents, but I have been pleased to see this team respond with back to back home wins.
However, the real test to see if this team has grown from that loss will be this Saturday when Purdue travels to Vanderbilt. I think getting those two bounce back wins this past week prior to facing Vanderbilt is important for this team as it has allowed our guys to regain their confidence and mojo. I loved seeing Kendall Stephens have a strong shooting performance like we all know he is capable of every night. I think the move that Coach Painter made to tweak the starting lineup was a savvy move in order to motivate some of the players that were not playing at the top of their game.
During my junior season in 2007-2008 Coach Painter adjusted the lineup many times during the non-conference season to try and find the best fit. With a young team this process really worked as it kept each of our top players very motivated and hungry to earn their starting spot. Having competition within the team is one of the most important aspects to a team being successful and players improving. Without it, it can lead to complacency.
Overall, I have been extremely impressed with this current team. They move and share the ball on offense like the great Purdue teams we previously saw under Coach Painter. When you have multiple guys who can dribble, pass and shoot in the motion offense it make it extremely difficult to defend. It also doesn’t hurt when you have two 7 footers who can dominate a team in the paint and on the boards. The good thing is this team can get even better and more efficient offensively which bodes well for the remainder of the season.
Another important aspect about this team that reminds me of the great teams I played on is the team comradery. Obviously, I have not been with the team day in and day out like I was when I was a player but this current team seems to have a stronger bond than recent teams. They really seem to enjoy playing with each other and it’s fun to watch. Having strong team unity is a very underrated aspect to having a successful team. The teams that I played on had great chemistry off the court which led to us playing better on the court.
I hope everyone is excited for the big game on Saturday and I look forward to watching our Boilers hopefully pull out a big road win.