Judging by the reaction around the state last night was officially the greatest draft in NBA history, but I tend to agree. Bill Simmons was in rare form and David Stern played the crowd like Maximus in Gladiator. What better way to lead into today's promised mailbag column?
If you like this type of column feel free to send your own questions to the blog's address of HammerAndRails@gmail.com. I received 7 responses this week, so let's get going:
As an avid Boiler fan hailing from "The Region" or Northwest Indiana, I want to know your opinion on Painters efforts to lock down that area of the State in recruiting. Thinking maybe it would become fertile ground for Purdue from the Hummel, Martin, Moore class, with all three hailing from that part of the state. It seems there was plenty of talent most recently Michigan's class with Robinson (St John), Albrecht (Crown Point), and McGary (Chesterton), as well as MSU's Dawson (Gary), have we lost a foothold in that corner or just the battles in those particular cases. We may see with East Chicago's Hyron Edwards. - Zachary Waters
Great question, Zachary. The Region has always been a hotbed of Purdue talent because it is one of the few areas of the state that has weak ties to IU down in Bloomington. Purdue is closer and I-65 means parents can be to their kid's games in less than 2 hours. Gene Keady practically had a stranglehold on The Region with Glenn Robinson, Carson Cunningham, and Brett Buscher among the main good players that came out of there.
Unfortunately, it is no longer a Purdue stronghold. Michigan got three really good players in Spike Albrecht, Glenn Robinson III, and Mitch McGary. Branden Dawson to Michigan State also stung, but none more than the Little Dog getting away. I am sorry, but the son of your greatest player ever should have been a slam dunk (as should Gelen Robinson in football). After getting Hummel and Moore the area has been barren in terms of Purdue commits. We haven't even gotten a handful of very good players coming out of Munster.
Edwards would be a huge get from the Region. He's from E'Twaun's high school and Purdue has been on him early. Purdue is going to need a point guard by then too. He needs to be the first player in re-establishing our dominance up there because too many have gotten away recently.
I haven't been able to fine anything about AJ's transfer in regards to a new destination. Have you any info? - Dennis Bailey
I have heard a few things concerning little AJ, but mostly rumors. I heard a rumor he had a grandmother that helped raise him that was ill, so he wanted to play closer to Chicago. I could see that happening, especially with DePaul suddenly becoming a player in recruiting again for unknown reasons. Chicago has a number of schools he could play at like Loyola, UIC (where Kelsey Barlow is), Chicago State, DePaul, and even somewhere nearby like Valparaiso and Northern Illinois. There are a lot of players out there transferring, so hopefully he makes a decision soon.
Little AJ also has to sit out a year and has only one year of eligibility left as a result. That could be a major factor. He can't play immediately and he only has one year to give, so some schools are likely hesitant.
There was a lot of seemingly forgotten controversy surrounding the Big Ten Championship Trophy and the removal of the Paterno name from it. This, just like the naming of our divisions, had left us with even more bickering about what we should call the trophy. Should it remain the Stagg Trophy? ... Should it even have coaches associated with it? It seems like every fan has their own opinion and wants to throw their favorite coach's name into the hat. I also don't think that we can keep it as just the Stagg Trophy because the name "Stagg" is even implying that someone is missing... With the arrival of two new teams, it seems like a great opportunity (or excuse) to reopen the trophy naming discussion. What are your thoughts on this topic? I have provided my thoughts below.
I am of the opinion that we should keep in line with the true Big Ten tradition of having ridiculous and random rivalry trophies... Its one thing we do very well... Why should the Big Ten Championship Trophy be any different?! This is why I propose the following Trophy:
Meet The Big Ten Championship Trophy: Rodney the Duck Billed Platypus
... Because what is more ridiculous than a duck billed platypus?!!! It also fits in well with the Mid-Western tradition of animal taxidermy... even ones that aren't real, like Jackalopes. I mean, hey, everyone around the country already thinks that we are pretentious because of the current division names "Legends and Leaders." Sure we are getting rid of them, but the damage has already been done. Rodney may be just the curve ball we need to keep everyone on their toes and ignite a less "snooty" public image... I bet people around the country would say things like, "Oh I hate the Big 10... but Rodney is Freakin' Awesome!"
I would love to see Purdue one day hoist up Rodney in Indianapolis and parade him around the field... and no one could possibly be offended... here are some facts as to why:
1. No current Big Ten team has a duck billed platypus for a mascot (shocking, right!?).
2. The duck billed platypus is a docile creature and does not sell its memorabilia for cash... it also can't drive a 350z.
3. The duck billed platypus is actually not an American... therefore, Rodney makes us simple Midwestern folk seem more worldly.
4. Rodney is NOT Joe Paterno, Bo Schembechler, Woody Hayes, Kirk Ferentz, Lloyd Carr, Hayden Fry, Joe Tiller, or any other current or former football coach.
5. Rodney does not have any cup or bowl-type construction (This is due to the application of lessons learned from the Stanley Cup... gross).
6. People can't complain about what year Rodney joined the Big Ten, if he left for a 6 year period and came back, or if he did his best work while as an independent.
7. Its super fun to yell, "WE GOT RODNEY!!!!" or "WE'RE MAKING A RUN FOR RODNEY!!"
8. People can't claim that Rodney implies that certain schools or football traditions are being catered to more so than others... Rodney is a loner; he doesn't care about you or the past... he is a modern duck billed platypus with a chip on his shoulder, but also a flare for the traditions of yester-year.
9. Rodney cannot use a phone with his webbed fingers and, therefore, cannot be accused of three-way calling recruits.
10. Do I really have to sell Rodney anymore? ...I think everyone gets the picture.
11. Rodney won't try to convert your team to the spread offense.
That was all from reader Matthew Benken. I think I will let it speak for itself.
How is Stephens' health? He's probably on campus. Not sure if the ‘informal' scrimmages are ‘open' - Maggi Lazarton
Kendall Stephens is expected to be ready to go by the time the season starts in November. Just this week the Exponent had an update on him already on campus and at practices:
Freshman Kendall Stephens, who injured his shoulder in the senior season of his high school career, took part in drills to work on his three-pointer. His shoulder seemed to holding up fine as he was pretty consistent from long range. One drill he took part in was running off a screen and then spotting up for a three. In another drill he simply ran to different spots around the arc and shot from long range. Once he found his groove in each drill he would consistently make four or five threes in a row. Look for Stephens to play around the perimeter this season as Purdue tries to make the most of his shooting ability.
With the talk of upgraded facilities around the sports program being a major help in the direction of our teams, and with the constant debate around lights on Ross-Ade, could you talk about what kinds of renovations and expansions you would like to see for the stadium? I think this would be an interesting topic to get opinions from various fans on. - Jacob Cronauer
I was going to touch on this in a separate entry today, but I can go ahead and talk about it now. Earlier this week Morgan Burke stated that the university is going to move forward with the plan to rip out the south end zone bleachers and improve that area:
According to Burke, the plan includes a plaza with an indoor club, including rooftop terrace seating of approximately 2,000 seats. Decorative bridges would connect the terrace seating with the existing stands in the southeast and southwest corners of the stadium. In addition to the new, larger video board in the south end zone, a second board would be added to the north end zone.
This would ultimately reduce capacity by about 5,000, but those seats can be made up by the addition of an east upper deck. In the long run that is a good thing. You basically move the seats you lose into better spots and create more choice seating between the 20's in addition to the inevitable luxury boxes that would come with it. This increases revenue as well.
I would love to see the plan that Boiled Sports put out there a few years ago with Victorian Era train cars serving as luxury boxes above the South End Zone. There is not a single thing wrong with this idea. I never ask you guys to e-mail Morgan Burke, but this is an idea that needs to be brought to his attention because it is awesome beyond words.
Burke seems adamant on getting the East Deck added, but we need more butts in the seats on Saturdays for that to happen. That only comes from winning, so I think we're about 5-7 years before that can happen when you consider the major improvement that is the south end zone.
I remember a long time ago Burke mentioning that lights could be park of the East Deck, but who knows at this point. I firmly believe that lights are inevitable once Rutgers and Maryland join and Ohio State adds there. At that point 10 of the 14 schools will have lights when not that long ago less than half the schools had them. If Burke leaves it up to the networks at that point they are going to stop paying for the extra expense of bringing in temporary lights (except for maybe the Notre Dame game) and start picking schools for TV games that already have lights. If Notre Dame goes off the schedule that forces Purdue's hand even more.
Obviously, this is something I feel strongly about and want to happen. I even looked into getting a Kickstarter going just to see if the press from it would force a move, but it doesn't fall under Kickstarter's policies. If I ever win the lottery or get the $1-2 million needed in donations from readers I promise I will go to Burke personally and donate the cash to get it done. It needs to happen before we become the Wrigley Field of the Big Ten. Before Wrigley got lights MLB threatened to not allow postseason games there because it would lose out on prime time sponsorship dollars, and that was 25 years ago! Purdue could be in a similar position if it doesn't move.
Which do you expect to be the bigger turnaround from last season - Men's Bball, or football? - Michael Lah
I think it will be basketball just because of the easier schedule. Football has such a tough schedule that it could play better but still be 1-7 after the first eight games very easily. Purdue has to at least be 3-5 heading into the Iowa game to have hope for a bowl game and that means upsetting at least one team that either won 10+ games last season or played in a BCS bowl. We have three straight games against teams that played in a BCS bowl last year and a game against the only undefeated team in FBS football all it he first eight. Nebraska and Cincinnati were also 10-win teams a year ago.
In basketball things are much easier. The schedule has some challenges, but it is far from brutal. Getting Butler on a neutral floor (possibly twice) and possibly Memphis are the toughest games we have before the Big Ten. The Big Ten also lost a lot of talent, as you saw during last night's draft. We need to expect a return to 20+ wins and the NCAA Tournament then. With football, any bowl bid would be a triumph because of that brutal early schedule.
Who is the next shoe to drop on bball recruiting? Seems like a few guys are making decisions this summer... - Michael Lah
I wish I had a crystal ball for that because anything we write here about basketball recruiting gets double if not triple the page views of a normal article. I could put "Purdue Basketball Recruiting" in the headline of this and it would get in front of more eyes.
Personally, I think we're the closest on Vince Edwards since he has a definite final two of us and Michigan. There are a lot of factors in play, however. The potential transfer of Zach Price is a factor because it affects how we go after other bigs in the 2014 class. There are still four spots open and I think coach Painter saves at least one for the 2015 class. Also, if anyone from 2015 claims an offer before 2014 it comes out of those four since currently no one is leaving after the 2014-15 season.