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October 25 Purdue Mailbag

A small sampling of reader questions during the off-week.

Mike Carter-USA TODAY Sports

With no game this week is the perfect time for a Q&A, so here are the questions I have received recently:

Is Purdue done building its 2014 MBB class (other than a possible 5th year transfer)? - David Hill (@thedavidhill)

I certainly don't think so. The early signing period is here in a few weeks and it looks like that is officially when Dakota Mathias, Vince Edwards, and Jacquil Taylor will sign. That leaves Purdue with three open spots for 2014 as it stands now, and remember, whatever is left over is the number of players Purdue will have for the 2015 recruiting class since there are currently no class of 2015 seniors. The Class of 215 could gain additional spots only if someone left early.

There are still some big names out there i-state and I think Painter should go as hard as he can after them. James Blackmon, Trey Lyles, and Trevon Bluiett are the biggest names, and who know what is going on with them. All three have committed to schools and backed out. Bluiett seems to be getting a lot of attention from home town Butler and decommitted from UCLA even after the Bruins signed his high school coach as an assistant.

The chances are small we get any of them, but it would be very nice to get one. Blackmon or Lyles would cause the most uproar since they were both Indiana commits at one time.

Who/what do you think will be the biggest surprise this year for the men's basketball team? Biggest disappointment? Also, over/under 19.5 wins? - Grant Evans (@Evans_GW)

The biggest disappointment is an easy one already. I am really sad that Donnie Hale left the program right before the season started. I always thought he had a lot of promise to be a Robbie Hummel-lite in that he could shoot, rebound, and do some of the little things that Rob did. I wanted to see him become a stretch four that could knock down jumpers and maybe even have three-point range.

I think your biggest surprise is going to be Travis Carroll. He's not going to be a sudden 15 and 10 guy kind of surprise, but he is a kid that works hard and is pushing Jay Simpson and A.J. Hammons to be better. He took a lot of crap early on but people seems to have been won over by Tacos' work ethic. He's going to be your dirty work kind of guy that scores on offensive rebounds, plays defense, rebounds on the defensive end, and generally hustles and gets things done that don't show up in the box score.

As for the over under of 19.5 wins, give me the over all day. We're winning 20 games. I guarantee it.

On a scale of 1-10, how does your excitement and optimism towards the Hazell Era rank now as opposed to when the hire was made? - Randy in SoCal

It has fallen a little, but I think the biggest reason for Purdue's struggles have been the offensive line. That is very disappointing when Hope was an offensive line coach by trade. They haven't allowed the offense to move the ball, and that means the defense wears down from being on the field.

I was encouraged that Purdue passed the eye test and just looked better against Michigan State. It is a very small step, but after Purdue looked so bad in the previous two games it was nice to simply be competitive for an afternoon.

I am a fan of Hazell being the right guy in the long run. There was some carry over from Tiller to Hope because they used similar styles and the program was run in similar ways. Hazell is at least saying the right things when he talks about changing the entire culture. That takes time. We have an entirely new offense and we're asking players to have more responsibility than before. The rest of this year is about seeing improvement in each game.

Remember, many people expected Purdue to be 1-6 right now regardless of how it looked. It was disconcerting to look so bad in getting there, but I feel like they turned a bit of a corner vs. Michigan State. I think, given two weeks, we may have some surprises in store for Ohio State. There are a large number of freshmen playing in some very important spots. They deserve time to grow.

Where is Purdue's '14 FB recruiting class compared to other BIG teams? Are there any other high ranked guys we are after? --  Alex Fleck@AFleck66

So far it is not stacking up well, as it is only ahead of Minnesota's class according to Rivals. Lots of that can be because of class size, however. Minnesota has only 8 commitments, Purdue 10, and everyone else in the conference has at least 13. Some guys, like David Blough and Drue Tranquill, could see their ratings go up when they get re-evaluated here as high school seasons wind down.

As for big-names Purdue is going after, Purdue has offers out on several  4-star players that have not decided yet. I would like to see offensive line and defense get the final spots. We have about 8 scholarships left to hand out. The situations for Rob Henry (possible sixth year) and Gabe Holmes (may redshirt due to his injury and return) determine how many we have left. It is clear we need lots of help on the offensive line, but the players that will make a difference are likely already at Purdue with the number of freshmen linemen we have.

@HammerAndRails also why do people say Hope was a good recruiter? His classes were consistently in the bottom third of the BIG.

That sentiment is definitely going down now, isn't it? I think it was because he got guys like Al-Terek McBurse and O.J. Ross as four-star commitments. Neither player finished his career at Purdue and his first full recruiting class is now entering its fourth year with only two players (Ricardo Allen and Bruce Gaston) looking like potential NFL players. Worse yet, freshmen recruited by Hazell are replacing long-time starters.

That's a big reason we're 1-6.

@HammerAndRails what's the deal with Denzel? What happened at Simeon? --  Matt Burkhart@Purduebball55

This is in reference to Denzel Ward, who is not playing this year at Chicago Simeon. I have heard it is due to an eligibility issue since he transferred from IMG Academy in Florida back to Simeon in Illinois. Moving around that much makes state athletic associations wary, but at least he won't get injured, right?

@HammerAndRails Where does bball recruiting go from here? 3 in, 3 open? Does CMP go for broke and go after the big names? -- seaofwhite45@CofWhite45 6m

As I said above, I sure hope so. What have we got to lose?