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Purdue's Errick Peck does it all

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Tipoff: University of Indiana at Purdue, 7 p.m. tonight
RADIO: 1380-AM
TV: BTDN

Online: For more on college athletics, follow Pete DiPrimio via Twitter at pdiprimio.

Boilers play Indianapolis tonight

Wednesday, October 30, 2013 - 6:43 pm

WEST LAFAYETTE – Purdue's Errick Peck does not leap over tall buildings with a single bound.

That much is certain.

Other than that, if you believe basketball teammate Sterling Carter, all things are possible for this senior forward.

“He's superman to me,” Carter said. “He can play the post. He can play the perimeter. People underestimate his ability to dribble and handle the ball.”

The 6-foot-6, 223-pound Peck has one year to prove Carter's optimism, starting with tonight's exhibition against the University of Indianapolis. He's a fifth-year senior transfer from Cornell with a big upside and a lot of learning to do in the Boiler system.

“We have to get a better flow to the offense,” Peck said. “People are still learning the offense. Me, too. At certain times on the floor, I have smoke coming out of my ears. But it will come.”

Peck was basically a double-figure scorer in his last two years at Cornell. He scored as many as 26 points and averaged 4.8 rebounds last season. In games against Minnesota and Syracuse, he averaged 15.0 points and 3.5 assists.

Beyond that, coach Matt Painter said, Peck brings a veteran's leadership and poise the youthful Boilers need.

“He gives us experience,” Painter said. “He's competed and played hard. He's done a good job of rebounding and shooting. That's what we want. We want him to bring some leadership in those areas, starting with leading by example.”

The example Peck delivered in Saturday's scrimmage included 14 points and six rebounds.

“He's a good combo forward,” Painter said. “He has a good feel for the game. He'll mix it up and play physical. I've been surprised with his ability to rebound. We're going to need him to rebound. That's been great.”

Peck's ability to play multiple positions fits Painter's versatility preference, and if it leads to a more inside role, Peck is fine with that.

“I hope I can get more mismatches down in the post. Score with my back to the basket. Command a double team and get others involved. That's my biggest thing. People don't think I can pass from the post. They think I'm just driving it. I hope to surprise a lot of people this year.”

Peck is battling freshman Basil Smotherman for a starting forward position.

“We compete hard every day,” Peck said. “He's a younger version of me, although he's a little more athletic, more guard oriented. He's going to be a great player.

“Hopefully we complement each other. Spell each other. I hope to compete with him every day in practice and the best player gets to go on the floor.”

Peck has strong roots in Indiana. He thrived at Indianapolis Cathedral High School and was the MVP of the Indiana-Kentucky All-Star series after averaging 14.4 points and 11.1 rebounds in two games. That wasn't enough to get him a chance to play at an in-state school. He has one now, and wants to make the most of it.

“Whether I start or come off the bench, I want to be productive,” he said. “I want to play to the best of my ability, finish plays, create off the dribble. Whatever the game calls for. If my shot isn't falling, play defense. If I'm on that night, score points. I really don't have a specific role. I just want to help us win.”

Tonight that means beating Indianapolis. The Greyhounds return plenty of firepower from last year's 20-9 team that reached the NCAA Division II tourney for the third straight season. Returners include guard Reece Cheatham, who averaged 15.2 points last year while shooting 85.5 percent from the line. He had 14 points, six rebounds and five assists during Monday's 95-69 loss at Notre Dame.

“They play hard,” Painter said. “They have a good program. It's close and it helps them out. It's a good fit for us.”