|No. 11 Boilermakers regain national prominence|
|Written by Admin|
|Friday, 14 November 2008 01:09|
The Boilermakers are favored to win the Big Ten, are ranked 11th nationally and have been awarded the top seed in the NIT Season Tip-off. They're coming off a 25-9 season and a trip to the NCAA tournament that came two seasons after they finished 9-19.
In just his fourth season, Matt Painter has Purdue looking like the program it was under Gene Keady, who compiled a 512-270 record in 25 seasons. Keady was named Big Ten coach of the year a record seven times and coached the Boilermakers to six Big Ten championships.
Painter said he hasn't deviated much from Keady's approach.
``I think the best thing is to continue in the same direction, continue to try to outwork people and play hard,'' he said.
to adhere to Purdue principles - hard-nosed, unselfish basketball with intensity on defense.
``Our strength lies in our balance,'' Painter said after Saturday's preseason win over Northern State. ``If we play unselfish and hard, I believe we can compete with anyone in the nation.''
The Boilermakers open a season of high expectations Friday against Detroit Mercy - with all their starters back from last season.
``It's one of those things where each team will be focusing on their strengths and what they do well, and it will be important for us to worry about Purdue in this game,'' Painter said.
Sophomore forward Robbie Hummel is the preseason Big Ten player of the year after averaging 11.4 points and 6.1 rebounds per game. He was a first-team all-conference pick last season, the first Purdue freshman to earn the honor.
Junior guard Chris Kramer is back after being the league's defensive player of the year last season. He was a team captain and a third-team all-Big Ten selection as a sophomore.
E'Twaun Moore led the Boilermakers in scoring as a freshman. The guard averaged 12.9 points per contest last season and was a second-team all conference pick.
Junior guard Keaton Grant was voted team MVP last season after averaging 11.2 points and 3.2 rebounds.
bounds and seven blocks in the win over Northern State. He started 17 games as a freshman and is expected to be a full-time starter this season.
Johnson's emergence could be a difference-maker for Purdue, which lacked a consistent post scorer and defensive stopper last season. Johnson averaged 5.4 points and 3.1 rebounds last season.
``I think the main thing for him is being aggressive,'' Painter said after Johnson's performance against Northern State. ``He's got to continue to have that energy to go after blocks and rebounds. He's a skilled player and if you're not around him you don't realize that, he can hit the perimeter and turnaround shots. He dominated the glass and the inside on the defensive end. If he can give this team an inside presence on defense, that will be huge for us.''
The key pickup is point guard Lewis Jackson. The freshman has immediately assumed a starting role, and now the Boilermakers have a skilled, unselfish complement to the returning stars.
Jackson averaged 21.7 points and 10 assists last season for Eisenhower High School in Decatur, Ill.
Painter had high expectations for Jackson from the beginning.
Guard Marcus Green and forward Nemanja Calasan also played significant minutes last season.
The Boilermakers are adjusting to being the team to beat.
``It's different for us to have such high expectations, but I think we're ready for the tasks that are coming,'' Kramer said. ``We have a lot of carry-over from last season and our guys are poised and ready to go. We want to make a run and maybe have one of the best seasons at Purdue.''