In back to back years five years ago now, Virginia went 15-16 and 16-15, respectively. Sounds somewhat similar to another team, right? However, after two 20 win seasons in a row, Coach Tony Bennet has the Cavs as a one seed in the tourney and a favorite to make it to the Final Four. I think Purdue can follow suit, and in a similar fashion to how UVA did it.
UVA did it without getting the one and done recruits. They had 2-3 ESPN 100 guys each year, much like Purdue does. These player grew together, and most importantly they bought into the system that Tony Bennet has put into place. The most striking similarity between those Cavaliers and past successful Boiler teams is the smothering man to man defense. UVA is number one in the country in terms of points allowed, and they run a man to man defense. Their players put forth the same amount of effort on the defensive end as they do on the offensive end, and though they sometimes struggle to score their defense keeps them in games.
Painter will have talent to work with in the coming years. With that being said, I think that priority number one for Painter is restoring the "Purdue Way" and bringing back that stranglehold defense that we all know and love. However, in order to do that Painter needs not only talented players, but ones that will play the way he needs them too. Painter has said it, but for a few years he seemed to go away from recruiting defense and effort first players. Yes, talent is necessary to win, but the key is finding a player that has the talent to perform at a D1 level and the effort to maintain our defensive tradition. Good luck to Ronnie wherever he may end up, but maybe he is just not that kind of player that Purdue needs right now. When thinking of past player that fit this mold, I think Lew Jack, Chris Kramer, and Brian Cardinal.
Painter does have a task in front of him, and it is not easy to rebound from a few seasons like this. However, it can be done, and I think Painter can do it. It will just just take the right kind of player in the program, and a renewed sense of pride on the defensive side of the ball. If you don't believe it can be done, just look to UVA from five years ago to now. That is what Painter and Purdue needs to strive for.