Key Losses: F Charles Davis (2.9 ppg, 3.1 rpg), G Brandon McKnight (11.8 ppg, 3.4 rpg, 3.8 apg), G Xavier Price (3.1 ppg)
Decatur, AL/Shelton State (AL) CC
Franklin Park, IL/Leyden
Bedford, NH/Brewster Academy
Chicago, IL/Hales Franciscan
Fort Wayne, IN/Snider
Gary, IN/DNP 2004-05
Warrensville, OH/Warrensville Heights
Chicago, IL/Transfer from Connecticut
Crump, a junior college All-American, or Spates will be the Boilermakers' starting point guard. White will give Matt Painter's frontcourt a tremendous amount of athleticism when he's eligible in December. Minnoy will be the most versatile player on Purdue's roster and will present opponents with matchup woes. Lutz has tremendous range from the perimeter and is a much better athlete than most think. With so many guards on the roster, Green may redshirt, but he could turn out to be quite a diamond in the rough. Pruitt and Parker are walk-ons.
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Matt Painter didn't waste any time making his presence felt as Purdue's head coach. The former Boilermaker guard signed one of the Big Ten's best recruiting classes in the fall and spring of the 2004-05 season while he was serving as the program's associate head coach during Gene Keady's farewell tour.
Purdue's recruiting fortunes were about the only positive to come out of Keady's 25th and final year in West Lafayette, as the Boilermakers suffered through their worst season in more than 40 years (7-21 overall, 3-13 in the Big Ten).
"I'm looking forward to the future and trying to improve our basketball team and getting back to the top of the Big Ten," says Painter. "I'm going to try to get Purdue to the Final Four and hopefully win a national championship. For where we are right now, that's a huge statement."
Painter has reason to be optimistic. The Boilermakers return three starters, four of their top five scorers, their top three rebounders and welcome an influx of talented newcomers who will give the program more depth and athleticism than it's had in recent memory.
Power forward Carl Landry's recovery from knee surgery is critical to Purdue's hopes. Landry underwent right knee surgery in March to repair a torn ACL and missed the remainder of the season. After transferring to Purdue from junior college last season, Landry ranked second in the conference in scoring (18.2 ppg) and field-goal percentage (.618) en route to earning second-team All-Big Ten honors.
If Landry "puts it all together," Painter believes he can be one of the best players ever at Purdue.
Gary Ware, another junior-college transfer, took advantage of increased playing time when Landry was sidelined and elevated his game. No other Boilermaker was more improved than Ware from the time the season started to when it ended.
Matt Kiefer is expected to be a valuable contributor, especially since he's started 44 games in his first three seasons in West Lafayette. At times, Kiefer has shown just how good he can be, but those have been few and far between.
After transferring from Connecticut, Marcus White practiced with the Boilermakers in January and will be eligible to play after final exams in December. He will be a welcome addition considering how well he rebounds.
Nate Minnoy, who looks more like a football player, could prove to be an asset. He can shoot the ball from the perimeter as well as bang inside.
Painter won a fierce recruiting battle for junior-college transfer Tarrance Crump, who could replace Brandon McKnight at the point. Painter's anticipated up-tempo style should play right into Crump's hands. He is the true point guard Purdue desperately needed, and his quickness and ability to make everyone around him better may give him a shot at being one of the Big Ten's best newcomers.
The most experienced player on the team is senior David Teague. Despite ranking in the top five on the school's 3-point field -oals made list with 155, Teague needs to become more consistent from the perimeter. His game is to catch and shoot, and with a player like Crump running the show, Teague should get plenty of opportunities to do just that.
Teague's game should also get a boost with the addition of Korey Spates, an explosive, scoring point guard who possesses a quick first step.
Another newcomer expected to make an immediate impact is Chris Lutz, a deadly outside shooter.
Purdue has been absent from the NCAA tournament in four of the last five seasons. The Boilermakers will be a longshot to make the field this year, but with a much friendlier schedule than a year ago, they could find themselves in the NIT.
Naturally, Painter isn't putting a win total on the season to determine whether the year is a success or not. "You don't put numbers on anything, but you want to be able to say that you've made improvement and made strides from the year before and gotten better," he says. "I'm not going to say we have to reach this tournament or that tournament and advance so far. We want to make improvements, and we want to get better."