A Look at Purdue's Mackey Arena - Bracketography.com

"The Mack" Will Be Back


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by Andy Force
Senior Writer, Bracketography.com
January 17, 2006

 

Part One of a Three-Part Series

Cruising down Northwestern Avenue in West Lafayette, Indiana, affords the Purdue Boilermakers' ticket holder an elevated perspective. Similar to gazing upon a snow globe, the view from here feels oddly powerful, like that of an overseer. Driving alongside Mackey Arena towards the Creative Arts quarters, the fan is now embedded in the buzz, that hurried, anticipatory movement common to colleges across the country. It is game night at Purdue. Does anyone care? 

Of course. Despite a discomforting 7-21 record a year ago, there is newness in West Lafayette. The tempestuous Gene Keady retired, leaving the program to his one-year apprentice Matt Painter. 

Painter recruited very well, bringing in athletic guards, big guards, winning guards, to accompany Big Ten Pre-season snub Player Carl Landry and workhorse center Matt Kiefer. The ability to gel will be imperative to any success the Boilers may attain in the stronger-than-ever Big Ten Conference. When Painter sat in his office storyboarding his 2005-2006 squad he surely had 2-year starter David Teague as a cornerstone. Not sitting like a stone in the corner of the court, injured, unable to play or help groom the eager freshmen, but a key component to making his team competitive. 

Take a compass into Mackey Arena because its round, donut-shaped concourse deceives even the keenest Boy Scout. Every section looks the same; every entryway mirrors the one on the way to your seat. Security at the entrances is enough to have a presence but not enough to aggravate. Bags are checked, smiles are exchanged and then you are in. 

For the more fortunate fans, the first stairstep inside the arena will lead you downward towards the floor. The school colors adorn the rafters and the empty seats. Piercing tones flood out from the pep band. If any one entity is ready for fans to materialize it is the pep band. The sound echoes, bounces around until bodies, ears arrive to soak it up. The average Purdue fan is older and whiter than the typical college basketball fan. They bark, groan, and applaud with vigor and even though the Boilermakers are noticeably down the fan base will do all they can to swing a couple of close ones to the home side.

The student section adopted one of the cleverest monikers in college athletics during Gene Keady\'s tenure, the Gene Pool. After he moved on and Matt Painter settled in, the Paint Crew spawned. It is rather plain as cheering sections go. Nothing extraordinary. Black shirts all around for the students, which is a subtle statement of unity. The alumni and families sport an array of pale-goldenrod sweatshirts.

Purdue is close enough to Chicago to draw some second-tier kids along with a few rural hometown heroes from small town Indiana. Matt Painter will bring them back. Keep in mind back equals hard-working, over-achieving team thriving on tough man-to-man with tough hard-nosed wins. Hammer-wielding Purdue Pete would ask nothing less.This year will be very very hard to stomach in Boilerland, but don't evaluate the picture before the Painter is done.