These days, athletic success is measured by championships. The greatest players of all time are the ones who have all the hardware. In college basketball, IU fans would be quick to mention that success lies only in the banners on the wall. If that is true then each year there is one winner and 119 losers(FBS). I have two reasons why it is unfair to judge success solely on championships and their names are JaJuan Johnson and E’twaun Moore.
Before the Baby Boilers of ’07 came to Purdue, Matt Painter was left to sweep up the mess left from Coach Keady. No disrespect to Keaton Grant and Chris Kramer, but Johnson, Hummel, and Moore have been the cornerstone of the success Purdue has put together over the last four years.
After Rob Hummel went down with his second ACL tear in the first day of practice, the Big-Three was shaved down to the Dynamic-Duo. The individual accolades say enough to describe each player but the things they have done together mirror the success of the greatest ever.
Etwaun “Smooge” Moore is the only Boilermaker in the last decade to start every single game of his career. The silent assassin is his nickname. Moore led the team in scoring his Freshman-Junior seasons and had a chance at being the only Boilermaker in history to be leading scorer his entire tenure at Purdue.
Smooge was also voted ESPN, AP, and Yahoo Sports All-American his Junior and Senior seasons. He also excelled in the classroom as a three time Academic All-Big-Ten and Academic-All-American. The most memorable game of his career came against #2 Ohio State in 2011 when he scored 38 pts and had the top play of the week with his acrobatic lay up in transition.
Moore also became only the 5th player in Purdue history to register 2,000 points. He joined the likes of Rick Mount(2,323), Joe Barry Carroll(2,175), Dave Schellhase(2,074), and Troy Lewis(2,038), a pretty prestigious list to be a part of. By the end of the season Moore should sit third all time in Purdue Career points scored. He also joined Taylor Battle, Steve Smith, and Michael Finley as only the fourth player in conference history to score 2,000 points, have 500 rebounds and 350 assists.
JaJuan Johnson came to Purdue as raw talent to say the least. The 6 foot 10 Indianapolis native was tall and lanky and didn’t really grow into his body until his sophomore year at Purdue. Unlike Moore, Johnson wasn’t as sought after. He didn’t even play varsity basketball until his junior and senior seasons. One of the biggest testaments to JJ’s work ethic is the transformation he had between his freshman and sophomore years.
As a freshman, JJ averaged 5.4 points per game and saw limited minutes. When he was in he looked like a pinball in the lane. As a sophomore JJ averaged 13.4 ppg. and was named first team All-Big-Ten. As a junior he raised his average to 15.5 ppg and after a stellar senior season, JJ was named the Big Ten Player of the Year, Defensive Player of the Year, and Scoring Champion, averaging 20.5 ppg. JJ is the typical blue-collar Boilermaker that the program has made a name around. Through hard work, being the first to practice and the last to leave, JJ is going to leave Purdue as the first player since Glenn “Big-Dog” Robinson to be a first round NBA Draft pick.
Together the duo of JJ and Smooge will go down as the best high-low combo Purdue has ever bred. The two should have their own book of the records they have shattered. (All stats are from the end of the regular season in 2011) They will go down with the most wins in Purdue history with 106 in 136 games. They rank 3rd in the nation behind Duke’s Kyle Singler and Nolan Smith, and Butler’s Matt Howard in winning percentage over four years. Their .779% will go down as the best in Purdue history. They are one of only five teams in the Nation to surpass 25 wins four years in a row. Before their two Big 10 championships(Big 10 Tourney in ’08, ’09 regular season), Purdue hadn’t hung a conference championship banner in 14 years. After going an undefeated 16-0 in Mackey Arena for the first time since 1969, JJ and E’Twaun finished their Purdue careers 61-6 at home. No one player in Purdue basketball history has won twice on each court. JJ and Etwaun came close, winning on each court except Ohio State. The ’07 class will also go down as one of the most dominant Purdue teams in history because of what they did to top 10 teams at Mackey Arena. JJ and E’twaun never lost to a top 10 team at home. They registered seven wins against top-ten teams, 6 of which came at home. They defeated #2 Ohio State in their senior season, the highest seeded team Purdue has beat at home since 1991. The most important stat these guys hold is their record against IU. JJ and E’Twaun went 5-1 against the Indiana Hoosiers, winning five straight (only loss came in 2007 against Eric Gordon and DJ White).
Behind all the broken records and tournament trips, the Baby Boilers of 2007-2011 have done as much for Purdue University as those like Sully Sullenberger, John Wooden, and Drew Brees. They have put Purdue on the map as a national powerhouse. College Game Day made a stop in West Lafayette for the first time in history on January 22, 2011. Words cannot express how grateful Purdue fans are for having the privilege of watching these two compete over the last four years. These two are the reason the Paint Crew is being recognized among the likes of The Blue Phog and Cameron Crazies as the best student section on the nation. JJ and E’Twaun are to thank for the “Hail Fire and IU sucks” chant being voted the #2 chant in the nation next to Rock Chalk Jayhawk of Kansas.
The class of ’07 has propelled the Purdue basketball team into a national powerhouse for years to come with nationally ranked recruits coming in who hope to accomplish what JJ and E’Twaun did. The Duo has helped Boilermaker students and alums stand a little bit taller when saying what school they go, or went, to.
One can only wonder what could have been if Hummel never….
To those in the Northern Indiana city of West Lafayette, we may have to wait a few more years to get that first championship but JaJuan Johnson and E’Twaun Moore have epitomized the blue-collar success Purdue looks for. It has been an honor to watch the two of them put on an old gold and black uniform. Only time will tell what the end of this season brings, but Boilermaker nation knows JJ and E’Twaun’s success is second to none.
Thank you for making me proud to be a Boilermaker. Thank you for staying four years. Thank you for doing it the old way. Thank you for doing it the right way. Thank you for doing it the Boilermaker way.
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