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2009-2010 Boilermaker Basketball: A Look Back

Jeff Smith

Despite JaJuan Johnson’s fantastic performance and an incredible effort on the defensive end, the Purdue Boilermakers season came to a screeching halt, Friday night in Houston, at the hands of the Duke Blue Devils, 70-57. This past season of Purdue Basketball was, at its very best, an incredibly exciting and promising one, and at its very worst, a frustrating and saddening one. It began with 14 straight wins, including a nail biting victory at Tennessee and a home court thrashing of West Virginia; the former attempting to secure a spot in the Final Four as we speak, the latter having already done so. Then, Painter's crew hit a rather large bump in the road, with consecutive losses at Wisconsin, vs. Ohio State, and at Northwestern.
With the future of the season in question after such a rough stretch, the Boilers reeled off 10 consecutive wins, including victories in Columbus against the Buckeyes and in East Lansing over the Spartans, who happen to be the club squaring off with Tennessee for a trip to the Final Four. The last victory of the streak came against the Golden Gophers of Minnesota, and in light of the news the team received the next day, felt more like a loss. The announcement that Robbie Hummel had torn his ACL was the point where all of the excitement and promise died and the frustration and sadness set in. The first game without Hummel was a 9 point loss to Michigan State at home, followed by wins over Big Ten cellar dwellers Indiana and Penn State. Coach Painter’s team continued playing with extraordinary effort, but it simply couldn’t replace what it had lost in Hummel, and as a result, the Boiler’s Big Ten Tournament ended in embarrassment with a 69-42 loss to Minnesota, in which Purdue managed only 11 first half points.
Heading into the first round of the NCAA Tournament, the ESPN national bracket reflected the poor performance against Minnesota, with the majority of the country predicting Sienna to pull the upset. The Boilers respond with perhaps their most impressive two game stretch of the season (considering Hummel’s absence). They ousted the Saints, 72-64, and then held off a much bigger Texas A&M squad in overtime, 63-61, to earn their matchup with Duke in the Sweet 16.
The loss to Duke marked the final game for both Keaton Grant and Chris Kramer as members of the Purdue Men’s Basketball team. They were two of Matt Painter’s original recruiting class and both played crucial roles in returning what was a down-trodden Purdue Basketball program to its once lofty status. They leave Purdue as the winningest class in the history of the program, and while that mark will inevitably be broken next year, their legacy will remain. When Grant saw his role decline as the star studded junior class came of age, he never once complained and remained the quintessential teammate. Kramer leaves West Lafayette as, perhaps, the most popular 6.4 PPG scorer in the history of college basketball. He captured the Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year title twice and set a standard for toughness and determination that will be referenced at Purdue for years to come.
Even though the ’09-10 Boilers went 29-6 (including a 14-4 mark as Big Ten Co-Champions) and found their way to the Sweet 16, they will always be remembered as the team that should have reached the Final Four. If it weren’t for a devastating injury that ended the season of Robbie Hummel, who is undoubtedly the best all around player on the entire roster, the state of Indiana would be buzzing about a potential Butler and Purdue matchup in the National Championship. Everything was in place for the history books to look back at this season and celebrate what was; instead they will only mention what might have been.

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