WEST LAFAYETTE – The buzz is back with Purdue basketball, and it's not just because heralded Indianapolis forward Trevon Bluiett is once again a Boiler recruiting prospect.
Purdue appears primed for a return to NCAA tourney relevance after last year's 16-18 disappointment.
Start with a better attitude, senior forward Travis Carroll said.
“We need to play hard,” he said. “We got away from that last year. We would lose a couple games and then have a lot of bad attitudes. This year is different. We're getting better leadership. I don't want my last year to be like that.
“We have to play hard. That's it. Go back to the Purdue tradition -- play hard every game.”
The Boilers are five practices into the new season and, coach Matt Painter said, so far so good.
“The ability to have had workouts in the summer has really helped us. To be familiar with the terminology of the things we do on offense and defense has helped the efficiency of practice. Our effort has been good.
“We have some guys who have never been through it before, so it makes it tough on their bodies. I'm pleased to this point, but we have to do a better job of taking care of the ball and embracing the physicality of the game.”
Purdue has five newcomers -- three four-star freshmen and two senior transfers.
The freshmen are former Northrop standout guard Bryson Scott, Indianapolis forward Basil Smotherman and Illinois guard Kendall Stephens. The transfers are forward Errick Peck (from Cornell) and guard Sterling Carter (Seattle University). The Boilers also return five veterans – center A.J. Hammons, guards Terone Johnson and Ronnie Johnson, and forwards Rapheal Davis (the former South Side standout) and Carroll.
“You always have a balance of guys young and old,” Painter said. “It's a little different when you have older guys (Peck and Carter) who are new, but they've been through college practices before. They've been around. That familiarity helps those guys.
“The summer workouts also have helped, but we'll see. We haven't put anything in yet in terms of what we run. We're just working on the fundamentals.”
Purdue's fall break has Painter giving the players today, Sunday and Monday off. Purdue will still get in its 30 practices in 42 days before it opens its season.
“There are a lot of things you have to teach them, but you always have to compete, you always have to play harder than the guy in front of you. Hopefully this (break) keeps a little pop in their legs.
“We're trying to evaluate who should play together, who should simply play, and over the long haul who will play the hardest. Especially early in the year, you have to throw a little adversity into it. That's who you are as a player and who you are as a team.”
As far as team chemistry, Painter said, “I think it's better, but we've only practiced (five) times and haven't had adversity yet. Let's have something go wrong -- we lose a game, somebody gets injured. Things always happen.
“They've been great. They've been very competitive. It seems like they get along, but in practice that's not always the No. 1 thing. You're trying to get guys to get after each other.”
As for Bluiett, the Class of 2014's No. 45 player according to Rivals.com, a national Internet recruiting service, he backed out of his commitment to UCLA and coach Steve Alford. The Indianapolis Star's Kyle Neddenriep reported that Purdue. Butler and Xavier watched him work out Friday morning.