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The Mailbag Talks Brian Cardinal, Keyante Green, And Recruiting

The Hammer & Rails mailbag returns for July 12.


It is time once again for the Friday mailbag, so let's get into the questions from you readers. As always, you can e-mail if you have a question to submit:

Are you concerned that maybe Matt Painter's success came from the one great recruiting class (Moore, Hummel, Martin, Johnson). Outside of that class he has struggled at times losing marquee recruits to other big ten schools. Now I think last year may have just been a fluke with the poor record, but I feel like you need a great player or two like a Hummel, Johnson, or Moore to go along with good role players. It may be too early to tell but I just don't see enough talent in the last few classes to get us to a final four. I feel like sweet sixteen might be the ceiling with our current recruits we are getting. Do you think Painter can start picking up higher ranked recruits? Will the new renovations to Mackey help? Maybe bringing in assistants who are more known recruiters? - Andrew Howard

This has been a common theme of late and is only magnified with Micah Shrewsberry, one of Purdue's top assistants, leaving the program. It seems as if there are three ways to win in major college basketball:

  1. Be a traditional power (i.e. Duke, North Carolina, Kansas, etc.) that can recruit a good mix of top talent and guys who will stay a few years and mix them together.
  2. Go the Kentucky route and assemble an all-star team of one-and-dones.
  3. Get a group of guys that are solid players, will grow together, and reap the benefits every few seasons.

No. 3 seems to be where Purdue is right now. The 2007 class came into maturity much earlier so they were ready for a Final Four in year 3 before Hummel's injury and still looked to get there in year 4 even after Hummel's second injury before the bizarre collapse at the end. generally though, Purdue takes a class and grows it before cycling back and repeating every 5-7 years.

That is a solid strategy, but it can take time to reload and that is where Purdue is now. Purdue enters this season with probably more raw talent in terms of overall stars than the 2007-08 team, but eight of those players have three years or more left of eligibility. It is shaping up to be a great team in a year or two if it stays together and can add some good talent in 20014 and 2015. That might allow Purdue to get into that self-sustaining mode for a bit, but it can only happen if it racks up several good recruiting classes in a row. 2012 and 2013 look to be very good, but remember, 2007 was followed up with a class in 2009 that on paper was strong, but lost three guys (Bade, Barlow, and Marcius) that all left early.

Getting a great player always helps, but I feel like Purdue needs a March breakthrough first.

T-Mill I was excited when Coach Hazell was hired to lead our Boilers. Maybe that Hopeful Danny's optimism finally wore off on me, but I just don't understand the grim outlook for the upcoming football season. ESPN and the other pre-season magazines keep harping on how hard our schedule is pointing to Notre Dame, Northern Illinois, and Cincinnati. I recognize that Notre Dame is never an easy out, but we hung with them on the road last year, and this is a less talented Notre Dame team than last year that survived scares not only against us, but also against the like of Pitt and BYU (neither are terrible teams, but neither lit the world on fire either). Then Cincinnati won 10 games against a very weak schedule whose best wins were over a below average Virginia Tech team and Duke in their bowl games. Last year's Cincinnati found a way to drop a home game to Rutgers who had no offense, and Toledo from the MAC on the road. With all the being said, what exactly I am supposed to be terrified of? I'm not naive enough to think 4-0 is a guaranteed (since even a feisty Indiana State could give us problems), but I have a hard time believing projections of a 1-3 non conference record. Plus with home games against Illinois and Iowa, and Indiana as far as I know is still finding ways to lose to Ball State, I don't think a bowl game is that unattainable (even if it is Detroit). - Andrew Fultz, Fremont, Indiana

I agree, Andrew. I think a bowl game is a reasonable goal as long as Purdue can beat the four I schools (Indiana State, Indiana, Illinois, and Iowa). At that point I like to think improved coaching finds a way to win two more games. As good as Northern Illinois was last year they still lost to Iowa. Notre Dame lost its quarterback and has to play us in a night game which will be coach Hazell's first big game, so it will have hype. Don't forget Ohio State, either, who seems awfully cocky, coming in, but were lucky as hell to win in Columbus last year and they have strange troubles at Ross-Ade. I think Purdue gets six wins somewhere and gets to a bowl.

1. Does Cardinal's lack of recruiting background hurt him as a candidate for coach? And if so, what positives does he posses that make him a candidate with limited coaching experience?

2. With Gelen Robinson, are we getting the little brother with more potential or the little brother who out works his older brother? Is he that talented or is he a harder worker being the son of a famous BB player and littler brother of one who is soon to be? -- Windless

I hate to burst the Cardinal bubble, but it looks like he may not be a coach after all:

As for Robinson, he has to be a hard worker. He is one of the best athletes in the state as a top-rated football player, a state champion wrestler, and possibly a double state champion this coming year in track & field (discus and shot put). That has to be hard work to master one sport at a state-elite level, let alone three. Not only is he incredibly talented, he knows what it takes to succeed at multiple things. Just imagine when he gets to Purdue and can focus all that energy and work on one thing: football.

What do you think happens with Vince now that Coach Shrews left? He said on Twitter that was his main recruiter. That's a huge blow to us if we can't land him now, as everything I saw on Twitter or message boards anywhere indicated he liked Purdue more than Michigan, although very close. - Sam Hoffman

The biggest question going around when it Purdue pertains to Vince Edwards. Everyone has an opinion but no one knows where he will choose, as it sounds like a dead heat between Purdue and Michigan. That said, assistant coaches leave programs all the time. What matters is that coach Painter is not going anywhere. I am sure coach Painter has already spoken with Edwards to discuss his further recruitment and how things will be handled with Shrewsberry gone.

I honestly think Edwards might have expected something similar. Ever since Brad Stevens left for Boston there was a chance Shrewsberry was going to be named as his replacement at Butler. He had to know there was a chance Micah was losing. That stuff just happens in college basketball.

Do you ever see Purdue and Notre Dame playing at Lucas Oil? Does it make more sense for Purdue or ND? - Michael Brauer

Purdue and Notre Dame opened the old Hoosier Dome in 1984 with Purdue beating the Fighting Irish in the first ever football game there. Notre Dame also likes to have at least one "neutral site" game every year, with last year's being even close to South Bend in Chicago.

That said, I think you're more likely to see Indiana and Purdue play at Lucas Oil. Both Purdue and Notre Dame are facing a schedule crunch starting in 2016 with the expanded Big Ten schedule and Notre Dame's ACC commitments, Playing at Lucas Oil really does nothing to solve those challenges. Purdue is going to want a seventh home game in 2016 and it only gets that by having all three non-conference games at home. Right now, Purdue is scheduled to go to South Bend that season, so something may give.

How excited are you about Brian Cardinal becoming Purdue Bball's newest assistant coach? Sort of excited? Really excited? Double-Super excited? Explain. - Michael Lah

Well, it looks like it may not be happening, but I loved it when it looked like it was happening. This team lack defensive intensity and heart for much of last season. They didn't look like a Purdue basketball team, and the worst example was getting beat by Indiana at home. It was bad enough to lose by 37 to them, but what made it worse is that it was obvious Purdue was out-worked in every aspect of the game. That should never happen.

That would be the biggest positive that Cardinal could bring. Purdue wins games often by out-hustling and out-working opponents as opposed to talent. To get to the next level it needs to bring in supremely talented players that have attitudes like Bryson Scott, Chris Kramer, and Cardinal himself had.

You can base this off of pure skill or include work ethic and scheme fit, but what freshman/sophomore on the football team do you feel is the next possible star(like Short or Kerrigan)? Anyone other than at quarterback? - Michael from Indianapolis

This is a great question. I honestly like Keyante Green, the incoming running back from Georgia. From what I have seen in his Twitter profile I really like his attitude and he seems to have a ton of talent to go with it. If I had to pick one of the many freshman running backs that would make a splash this fall I would go with him. Coach Hazell is going to run the ball more and he needs capable backs. Green was a four-star commitment by some services, so he could be a big surprise.