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Enjoying the Build: 4 Thoughts on Purdue

What a run.

NCAA Basketball: Big Ten Conference Tournament-Purdue vs Rutgers Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports

Rutgers fell to the Purdue Boilermakers 82-75 in one of the more entertaining games this year.

Corey Sanders: If this was his swan song, so be it. He put on a show for 3 games and deserves to be on the all Big Ten Tournament team. Tonight, Corey scored 23 points and never felt like he truly got untracked like he was in the first two games. The fade away jumper never truly fell and he had trouble getting to the rim. At the same time, he put up enough points to keep the Scarlet Knights going and put a scare in Purdue. One more year? I don’t know what will happen (and I’m writing this before Corey answers any questions), but if he were to come back next season—with Peter Kiss, Montez Mathis and Ron Harper Jr to add to this squad, he could have a monster year. Will be interesting to watch. Whatever happens? Good for Corey.

Geo Baker: Forget the flu. Forget the freshman wall. Look to the future, because last night and tonight is what you’re going to start getting out of this kid day in and day out. Baker led Rutgers with 25 points and was so smooth all game. This is the kid who is going to lead Rutgers over the next three years. The first one to say yes to Pikiell sight unseen. The kid who is going to be a starter for four years. Whether Corey stays or goes, he’s going to be the leader of this squad and the face of what Steve Pikiell wants to build Rutgers hoops upon.

The First Ten Minutes: I hate to say it, but that’s when Rutgers lost this game. Rutgers came out of the locker room completely on fire and set Purdue back on their heels. Purdue, stunned that Rutgers was actually playing basketball (because all Big Ten teams are stupidly surprised) missed a bunch of wide open threes. But Rutgers couldn’t get the lead they built any higher than 8. Had they pushed it to double digits, it would have been a lot harder for Purdue (who barely missed in the 2nd half) to come back.

Steve Pikiell Needs to Get on the Phone: This was an incredible and unforeseen run in the Big Ten Tournament. Because of these three games, Rutgers is no longer smeared by Mike Rice Tapes or Eddie Jordan’s 61 point losses. Instead, Rutgers is relevant again. It’s time to call Tai Strickland and Aundre Hyatt and whomever else Rutgers is recruiting. There will be opening this spring on this roster. Pikiell and company need to fill them and fast. Because this is a build we’re all enjoying at this point. Let’s keep it going.

Thank you, Mike Williams. Thank you, Deshawn Freeman. Thank you, Candido Sa. Thank you, Jake Dadika. And thank you to the fans who filled MSG. That was awesome.

November is only 8 months away.