Shooting struggles at home; more notes
Although it would seem to go against conventional thought, the Boilermakers can't seem to find their stroke in the most familiar of places.
When they hit the road, however, it's a completely different story.
After seven conference contests — Purdue is 5-2 — the Boilers are hitting only 36.8 percent (86-of-234) of their field goals in four home games, three of them wins. But on opponents' courts, Purdue shoots 44.1 percent (71-of-161), while winning two of three.
Coach Sharon Versyp says she doesn't find the trend all that surprising. Instead, she says its happened at nearly all her coaching stops.
"You're better focused on the road," said Versyp, whose Boilers play Thursday at Iowa. "You don't have any distractions. … You might have a little extra pressure at home because you have all these fans and the kids want to do so well."
Despite the poor shooting at home, the Boilers are still finding a way to win, primarily because of their defense. In Purdue's three home wins, it's allowed only 48 (Wisconsin), 51 (Michigan) and 38 (Northwestern) points; Indiana scored 66 in Purdue's lone home league loss.
"We're winning ball games even when we're not shooting well," Versyp said, "because we're doing all those other things that make basketball what it is today."
'Russian or Rubbish?'
Not even "Quick Change," a duo once featured on TV's "America's Got Talent" that entertains crowds by quickly changing their clothing, can upstage Natasha Bogdanova at halftime.
A native of St. Petersburg, Russia, Bogdanova is the host of "Russian or Rubbish," a two-minute game show spoof shown on the video board during halftimes of Purdue home games. Sunday, it was viewed by the Mackey crowd immediately after "Quick Change" left the floor.
In each pre-taped segment, the ultra-outgoing Bogdanova dresses as a professor, with black rimmed glasses and a red and black corset, and says a phrase that's either in actual Russian or is complete gobbly-goop, while asking the audience to take a guess.
Bogdanova makes that ordinary setup particularly hilarious with her near perfect comedic timing. She says Elliott Hall of Music, which produces Mackey Arena's video board content, approached her with the idea after she kept a video diary last season, while rehabbing from an ACL injury.
"They thought I had the personality to pull off this one," the 6-foot-4 forward said, "just something fun."
Bogdanova, who filmed nine separate videos before the start of Big Ten play, says she was excited about the project.
"Please, anything that's going to get me TV time," Bogdanova said laughing. "It was funny. I went to tape it and they had this bag from Hot Topic, (an alternative youth clothing store). I was like 'hum, that's interesting.' They gave me this little shirt, I was like 'can I keep this later for the next time I go out?'
"Our audience is like 60 (years old) and up, I don't know about this. … They were like 'just be a little naughty,' and I'm like 'OK, are you sure?' It was kind of weird, but we made it fun."
Bogdanova's yet to see the finished project, as she's in the locker room during halftime. She's lobbied Versyp to allow the videos to be shown during timeouts so she could watch, but to no avail.
"Coach already tells me I don't pay attention during the timeouts," Bogdanova said.
But plenty of fans are paying attention.
"Nobody says 'good game,'" said Bogdanova, who had 13 points and 13 rebounds in Purdue's win Sunday. "They're like 'great thing at halftime, it was so much fun.' And I'm like 'thanks, did you watch the game?' Everybody is just like 'I guessed rubbish today and I was right.'"
A few have logged complaints, Versyp says, wondering whether Bogdanova might be cursing in Russian. But that's not so.
"I think it's great," said Versyp, who has yet to see the segments. "… It's a way to get to know our student-athletes."
Pink, Pink, Pink
On occasion, the Boilers will take the floor in gold uniforms, as opposed to the usual home whites or road blacks.
But when Purdue hosts Illinois Sunday, it will go with a different color entirely … pink.
Purdue is one of over 600 schools participating in the "Think Pink" initiative sponsored by the Women's Basketball Coaches Association in an effort to raise money and awareness for breast cancer research. Purdue's "Hoops for Hope" event includes a health information fair before the 2 p.m. game, donation opportunities and a special halftime ceremony to honor cancer survivors.
Like many Americans, Versyp has been touched by cancer: her first Purdue coach, Dr. Ruth Jones, died from ovarian cancer in 1986. Her nephew, now 20 years old, was diagnosed with brain cancer at 16 months of age, and her mom died nearly eight years ago from leukemia at the age of 69.
"I give back a lot to cancer," Versyp said. "It's very important to me. … It's huge for everyone who supports it because I think they are making great strides."
The Boilers are going all out in pink against the likely orange-clad Illini. Purdue will wear pink shorts and jerseys, with pink laces on white shoes. Several Boilermakers might put on a headband and wear knee-high pink socks.
"It is going to be pretty neat," Ki-Ki Freeman said. "The shorts are a little different, a little smaller, but we'll make it work."
On Sunday, fans are invited to come early to visit with local healthcare professionals, beginning at 12:30 p.m. in the concourse of Mackey Arena.
Also, a $1 or more pledge can be made for each free throw the Boilermakers hit against the Illini. Pledge cards will be available at gate B until halftime. Donations of any amount will be accepted and all proceeds will benefit the Susan G. Komen Foundation. At halftime, Purdue will hold a special celebration involving all cancer survivors in attendance.
"You get caught up in wins and losses," Versyp said, "but then you look up in the stands and someone's got cancer and they may only have one day left in their life. If people really take everyday like it could be there last, then I think this world would be a much better place."
Copyright, Boilers, Inc. 2008. All Rights Reserved. Reproducing or using editorial or graphical content, in whole or in part, without permission, is strictly prohibited. E-mail GoldandBlack.com/Boilers, Inc.