55 Days To Purdue Basketball: Sandi Marcius

INDIANAPOLIS, IN - MARCH 11: Sandi Marcius #55 of the Purdue Boilermakers attempts a shot against the Michigan State Spartans during the quarterfinals of the 2011 Big Ten Men's Basketball Tournament at Conseco Fieldhouse on March 11, 2011 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)

Alright, so technically there are 53 days until Purdue hoops. But I dropped the ball on Friday and forgot about this project until this morning. But that's ok, we're all friends here so we can let it slide. Today marks the beginning of our countdown till Purdue Basketball. This will be an interesting and exciting season with the completely new team that looks crazy athletic; something that we haven't had in quite some time.

Our first player in the countdown looked to be somewhat of a bust at the beginning of last season. But during NCAA play he stepped up his game and his hard work showed during the team's trip to Italy at the end of summer. Now it looks like the Chooch Train has locked down th starting spot for center, and after watching him play this summer I'm fine with that.

Sandi Macius - Jr. (RS)

Hometown: Nedelisce, Croatia (La Lumiere HS)

Power Forward/Center

6'9" 268 pounds

2012 projection: Starter at center

Sandi came to Purdue during the JaJuan, E'Twaun, and Robbie era and gave us much needed depth behind JJ. At that point Boiler fans were still riding 'The Bade Train', hoping that would turn into something special; man, were we ever wrong. Sandi redshirted his freshmen year after hurting his foot in preseason practices.

After recovering from the injury, Sandi came back and averaged 1 point and 1.5 rebounds in 5.1 minutes per game while playing in 22 games. His best game that season came against Alcorn State, where he scored 12 points and snagged 8 boards.

Last season he played in 24 games while averaging 1.6 points, 2.1 rebounds in 8.5 minutes of play. He also earned his first career start against Western Michigan, finishing with six points and four rebounds. Sandi showed glimpses of improvement that season, yet at times it still seemed like his hands were made out of concrete that had been sprayed with butter. But one thing is for sure, no one on the 2011-2012 team could set a screen like Marcius. I remember watching players run into him and just bouncing off like they had hit a brick wall. He couldn't do a lot of things well, but you could see an improvement from the year before. Chooch also played well in the NCAA tournament; he finished the tourny with 5 points, 9 rebounds, and hit all 3 of his free throw attempts, which is something that you really want to see out of your bigs.

Now Sandi has the opportunity to be our starting center, which I think is a good decision. This is the first time in the Matt Painter era where we've had this much depth in the front court, and the coaches have raved about Chooch's improvement coming into this season. During the Italian trip, Chooch posted 8.5 points and 10.5 rebounds in just about 17 minutes of play.

Coach Painter has given Sandi a tremendous amount of praise over the past few months as well. Sandi's work ethic, hustle, and intensity seems to be at an all time high and after watching him play in the inter-squad scrimmage, granted it was a recreational game, Sandi was one of the hardest playing guys and didn't even look like the Chooch of old. In this video taken after the Italy trip, Chooch talks about the momentum he had after the Kansas game and how it helped him going forward for summer work outs.

An in-shape, hardworking Marcius who understands the game of basketball is a scary thing for opposing teams. Lets hope the Sandi hype pays off and he can be a big time contributor to this team.

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