GoldandBlack.com’s Three Thoughts from the Weekend column runs every Monday morning, with analysis of Purdue football, Boilermaker men’s basketball, recruiting or whatever else comes to mind. In this week’s edition, In this week’s Three Thoughts, we discuss Purdue’s win over Illinois, Boilermaker basketball’s new recruiting addition and more.
ON PURDUE’S WIN OVER ILLINOIS
Listen, first off, Purdue is better than Illinois. That coupled with the fact that nobody outside Illinois knows Illinois better than Purdue made Saturday’s Boilermaker win unsurprising to those who looked at Weeks 1 through 4 objectively.
Unsurprising, but still very significant.
What I saw Saturday as much as anything was a team and staff figuring some things out. Purdue’s offensive game plan was well constructed, self-aware and ultimately, very effective. It played to strengths and minimized weaknesses, striking a balance between big plays and ball control.
Defensively, Purdue was excellent, not so excellent that it didn’t need some real help by way Illinois dropping touchdowns and undercutting itself with penalties, but Illinois felt that defense, and that’s the goal. Ryan Walters himself calling the defense, we’ll see where that goes, but so far, so good. I also don’t want to make too much of the change because I’m sure Kevin Kane played an important role, but the important part here was Purdue changes and those changed work.
No coach ever comes into the season with all the answers, particularly no first-time coach.
There was always going to be a settling-in period here, and what you saw on Saturday was a staff and team figuring things out and getting better as they go. Purdue was nor far off in defeat prior to the Illinois.
The games get tougher now, but if Purdue keeps on the right trajectory, it has proven it can compete and there are enough wins left on this schedule to do something this season.
ON PURDUE BASKETBALL RECRUITING
I’ve covered college basketball and recruiting long enough, I think, to know when coaches know what they’re doing and when they’re being stupid. One of the big land mines that can come with success is the urge to get away from what got you that success.
Purdue’s got a good thing going right now. I don’t know as much as I’d prefer to about new commitment CJ Cox — I was as surprised as you might have been, which is not a credit to my job performance — but I can tell you what it tells me.
Matt Painter is going to keep with what’s worked — shooters and maturity and intelligence and such things. I had someone make a favorable comparison between Cox and P.J. Thompson. That may not sound like much outside Purdue’s program; inside its program, though, it’s a lofty compliment.
In these Bizarro World recruiting times, Painter is not going to walk away from good players he believes fit well. This recruit was his doing, I think, and aligns with so many of the values he covets. Brian Waddell proved that a few years back.
Look, Purdue has been No. 1 two years running, now has a top-three-ish team and has the most cachet of its Modern Era. It’s had multiple All-Americans, a Player-of-the-Year and a lottery pick. It’s had great guards and not just the big men it’s come to be known for. A lot of coaches might be tempted to chase rankings, to chase stars, to deviate from their template.
Purdue isn’t shying away from anyone in recruiting, but is also prioritizing team-building, sniffing out losing battles on the front end, using its time wisely and still getting good enough players to build outstanding, outstanding teams.
ON NOT PUKING
Indulge me here for a moment if you’d be so kind …
As many of you know, I’ve got some circumstances that have basically dominated the past year of my life, particularly the last eight months or so.
Brain surgery, meh. I’d done that twice before and experience matters. Radiation treatment, meh, I’d done that before, too, and wasn’t fazed in the least last time. I don’t take those words lightly, because these things hit everybody different and I don’t want glance over how fortunate I’ve been through all this stuff relative to other peoples’ experiences.
But the one thing that I ever felt even a little bit of fear about was chemo, because it struck me as the one thing I might not be able to simply out-will. Pain is one thing, but being more stubborn than your chemical composition, man, that sounded daunting.
This time, unlike the last two, I needed chemo — well, technically “targeted therapy,” but close enough that calling it “chemo” isn’t inaccurate, I don’t think.
I set one goal for chemo: No puking. Vomiting is a common side effect, and a particularly ugly one when your yak is basically a biohazard when you more or less have poison running through your body.
Last night, I took my final (for now at least) dose of those pills.
Despite some of the most unnatural, un-human feelings I can imagine — the taste like you’ve swallowed lit cigarettes, the waking up feeling like you’ve got molten lava coming up, the irony of the anti-nausea medicine’s flavor becoming even more haunting after a while — I never puked, at least as of press time.
Came close a few times. As a lifelong just-get-it-over-with inducer (yeah I know, TMI), I wanted to a whole bunch of times. Never did and now that it’s over (again, for now; this likely isn’t over for me), I’m reminded of an important lesson I’ve learned: Celebrate your wins, folks.
Most of the crap we worry about, we’ll find out one day, it didn’t matter all that much, if at all. All our situations are different and all our realities are different. Find prideful moments and joy where you can, even if it’s something small like not losing your insides while on scary medicine.
I am damn proud to have promised myself I wouldn’t puke while on chemo, not out of some misguided sense of masculinity or toughness or whatever, but rather just hoping for a win, of which I’ve gotten a bunch of small ones that I hope one day add up to a big one.
I’m telling you this, too: It’s OK to not be OK. For months here and out and about, I just flat-out pretended to be all right for everyone else’s sake. Why, I don’t know. I’d say I wish I could it all over again, but, yeah, let’s not.
I am extremely grateful to my family, to my doctors, to everyone who has taken a moment to wish me well (or done much more than that). I’m grateful to this incredible support base this site’s community makes for. I remember being wheeled into the O.R. this time around feeling like there were thousands of folks there with me. Last time, in ’04, I felt all by myself. I told the surgical team prior to going under that I felt like a publicly traded company after the overwhelming month prior to surgery.
I’m a very lucky man, and I’m looking to being back and not just physically present; to being a more sentient being again and not just a beachball being punched from place to place. I’m looking forward to being able to get out of bed at a reasonable hour and stay out of said bed for more than six consecutive hours.
I’m looking forward to covering the hell out of this Purdue basketball season, for which the end of treatment couldn’t have landed better. There aren’t going to be as many late nights for me and sometimes you’ll hear in my voice that I’m still going to be in the midst of a process, but we’re going to get the job done to our usual standards.
Thank you again to everyone for your support and for lending me your ear here.
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