COLLEGE SPORTS | PURDUE COACHES CARAVAN

Purdue coaches Painter, Hazell see better times ahead for their programs

2013-05-23T19:30:00Z 2013-06-05T19:24:04Z Purdue coaches Painter, Hazell see better times ahead for their programsAl Hamnik al.hamnik@nwi.com (219) 933-4154 nwitimes.com
May 23, 2013 7:30 pm  • 

MERRILLVILLE | There are few things worse than a discontented fan base. Purdue can attest to that.

Its two biggest revenue sports -- football and men's basketball -- were huge disappointments last season, costing one coach his job while the other was heavily criticized on social media outlets.

The football team finished 6-7 and Danny Hope was shown the door, but it really was a culmination of going 42-47 the last seven seasons, with two winning records.

On Dec. 5, Kent State's Darrell Hazell was named the 35th head coach in Purdue football history and signed a six-year contract.

The basketball team also struggled right out of the chute, finishing 16-18 with no NCAA tournament bid and a roster void of impact players.

Coach Matt Painter caught heat on Twitter and various blogs and websites. Locally, many wondered why Lake Central grad Glenn Robinson III signed with Michigan rather than follow in his father's footsteps at Purdue.

Painter and Hazell were among the Purdue Coaches Caravan that appeared at the Radisson Hotel on Thursday.

Painter gave Michigan coach John Beilein credit for making GR3 a recruiting priority early in his career at Lake Central.

"When they offered him a scholarship -- Michigan was the only team in our league to offer him a scholarship -- he had yet to really show the consistency and the production he had shown his junior year," Painter said.

"They got him committed before his junior year. It was one of those things where in four, five, six months, he made such a huge jump. You got to give John Beilein credit for seeing that when a lot of us didn't."

What about the rumor that Purdue had actually run out of scholarships because it was saving its last one for Fishers' Gary Harris, who eventually signed with Michigan State?

"It had nothing to do with that," said Painter, admitting they simply missed on going after GR3.

With four returning starters, the future looks a bit brighter for Purdue basketball.

"The real downside for us was two-fold: In non-conference, our guys didn't understand there's good players across the board in college basketball," Painter said. "We were an immature team and in conference play, there were games where we just got blown out of the water."

Painter said his inexperienced squad lacked "fight mode" when down by double digits.

A.J. Hammons, a 7-foot, 280-pound freshman center with Gary roots, seldom dominated, averaging only 10.6 points and 6 rebounds as a starter.

"He's got a chance to be special and I told him at the end of the year he was really a flip-of-the-coin guy. Heads, he played hard. Tails, he didn't," Painter said.

"He's still got to be consistent."

On the football side, Hazell saw a definite upside with Lake Central recruit David Yancey as a running back and wide receiver Dolapo Mcarthy, a Merrillville grad who transferred in from Hargrave Academy.

"Great prospects for us," Hazell said. "Yancey's a young guy trying to learn a system. We're going to give him an opportunity to compete and see if he can get to two or three on the depth chart.

"Dolapo is a big guy, a big target, who we need to be successful for us next season. We need him to play at that size."

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