THE FOLLOWING FEATURE APPEARED FIRST IN GOLD AND BLACK ILLUSTRATED VOL. 24, ISSUE 4. CLICK HERE FOR SUBSCRIPTION INFORMATION.
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It all happened so fast that it might not have been fully appreciated real-time.
But the play Caleb Swanigan made with about six-and-a-half minutes left in Purdue's Big Ten road opener at Ohio State was not only a brilliant basketball play, but also a glowing reflection of all that's made the Boilermakers' star big man great.
It was simply raw will.
It went like this: Swanigan posted up Buckeye center Trevor Thompson right of the rim, took a dribble toward the lane, then spun and trucked his defender with his devastating drop step, the sheer force of which knocked Thompson backward, knees buckled, as Swanigan went up to shoot with his right hand.
Nevertheless, Thompson is really tall and really long and as he gave ground, he was able to recover, reaching out a hand to block Swanigan's shot.
The first shot, that is.
Undeterred, Swanigan came down from his initial jump and bounced right back up off one foot.
Then, as if he'd planned it this way all along, he reached around Thompson with his left hand and gently tapped the ball in, while Thompson stood around and watched from under the basket.
"It was more of an instinct thing," Swanigan remembered, weeks later, with typical matter-of-factness.