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OldGoldFreePress COLUMNISTS | BACK TO Guest_Columnist'S COLUMNS

PURDUE MENS BASKETBALL:
Indiana high school kids key to rivalry success




Date: 1/30/2000
Author: Mike Ermitage
Mike Ermitage

    As the victory against the Hoosiers begins to set in, and the hoopla that surrounded it begins to fade, a certain question comes to mind. How does Gene Keady's Boilermakers continue to dominate Bob Knight's Hoosiers?

    Certainly the overall lead of 21-19, in favor of the venerable Keady, does not convey dominance. But eight of the last 10 - well - that's a beating even Knight can't deny.

    Some, mostly those near the Wabash, would say it is superior coaching. But let's open our eyes folks - the General's record speaks for itself. He's only a half dozen average seasons from surpassing the Dean as the winningest coach in college basketball history.

    Others point to IU's recent player defections for their subpar play. Hoosiers say that if Jason Collier was roaming the middle, and Luke Recker was manning the outside, Purdue would not hold such a decisive advantage. Or if George Leach weren't busy playing Ally McBeal trying to regain his eligibility that IU would easily dispose of Purdue.

    I say maybe.

    But maybe Purdue's advantage can be credited to something intangible. Something I cannot prove, but most certainly exists. When I look up and down the Boilermaker lineup I see Hoosiers, that is, state of Indiana Hoosiers. When I look up and down the Indiana lineup I see foreigners. One from Tennessee, one from Michigan, one from Illinois, one from California, one from Minnesota and one from Georgia. What true Hoosiers actually play for Indiana? Michael Lewis? That's really it.

    Maybe a little state pride has been the impetus behind Purdue's success. Jaraan Cornell, Carson Cunningham, Greg McQuay, Maynard Lewis, Rodney Smith, John Allison, Chad Kerkhof and Kenny Lowe all claim Hoosier status.

    In my short time as a Purdue fan, I would have to say the best Indiana - Purdue games I saw pitted Glenn Robinson against Alan Henderson. Two Indiana natives battling it out for state supremacy. Those games always boiled down to two Indiana kids trying to one-up each other. Much as they had done in their high school careers, only now on a bigger stage. But that doesn't exist now. Maybe it was fitting that Jaraan Cornell, of South Bend, Ind., hit the biggest shots in the latest matchup while A.J. Guyton, of Peoria, Ill., just disappeared.

    This rivalry needs a little in-state jolt, and its coming next year. Jared Jeffries, a standout recruit from Bloomington, Ind., is going to Indiana while Brett Buscher, an excellent all-around player from Chesterton, Ind., is going to Purdue. A new rivalry? Perhaps.

    Indiana basketball means farm kids burying 15-foot jumpers on a wooden basket their dads nailed to the barn. It means a hot gym in Gary - shirts on skins - filled to the brim with kids waiting for the next game. And there's no doubt that farm kid is pretending he's Steve Alford or Keith Smart hitting that jumper. And there's no doubt those Gary kids are emulating Glenn Robinson's silky moves to the hoop. Let's just remember - not every kid in Indiana is a Hoosier. Some are Boilermakers.


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