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The battle begins today on Keady Court, with Purdue looking to improve as a basketball team and individual Boilermakers looking to earn significant playing time.
Purdue will conduct the first of 10 practice sessions today in preparation for a 10-day exhibition tour of Italy next month.
“We're going to learn a lot about each other,” Boilermaker coach Matt Painter said. “Hopefully we can play against high level people that expose us a little bit so that going into the fall we know what to work on.”
The Boilermakers will practice on Monday and Tuesday each of the next three weeks, followed by sessions on Aug. 2 and 3. On Aug. 4 the team will conduct a public intrasquad game, which follows a special alumni game. The team will team hold its final practice on Aug. 6 before departing for Europe on Aug. 7.
The 2012-13 Boilermaker squad is a mixture of youth (five scholarship first-year players) and experience (six returning scholarship players), so Painter doesn't know quite what to expect, other than the practices should prove to be very competitive.
“There are always going to be surprises, be it good or bad,” Painter said. “If it is good, then you try and build on it. If it is bad, then you try and correct it. I think all of our young guys will have a chance to play. I don't think that there is a freshman on our team that doesn't have a legit chance of either starting or playing major minutes.”
Painter has brought in freshmen Rapheal Davis (6-foot-5), A.J. Hammons (7-foot), Ronnie Johnson (6-foot), Jay Simpson (6-foot-9), and also has redshirt freshman Donnie Hale (6-foot-8) ready to compete. The class is regarded as one of the nation's strongest (rated 13th by ESPN). However, the coach isn't ready to coronate the youngsters just yet.
“We're waiting for them to do something,” Painter said. “A lot of times recruits don't have flaws. (But) People get so excited about them and it's hard to be good right away and when someone isn't good right away, it's almost like you write them off and start talking about the next recruits. I think that we have some guys here that haven't had much success that can be really successful.”
The coaching staff has enjoyed being able to conduct limited workouts with the players for the first time under a recently enacted NCAA rule this summer, plus have been on the road this past week recruiting at various tournaments. The recruiting will continue this week, as well as the following week, while the practices and trip are added on top of an incredibly busy summer. However, Painter doesn't see the negative in all of the time being devoted this off-season.
“I've been overseas four of the last five Augusts,” Painter said. “I've been to New Zealand, I've been to Australia, and I've been to China; it's just kind of the way it is. You change your cell phone over to the international package and you can still make calls and do your job. I've had a lot of fun and traveled the world. It's been a very enjoyable ride. I don't look at it as a burden. I just try to continue to make improvements in myself and try to help our guys get better.”