AL HAMNIK: Carson Cunningham to enter Purdue's time machine

2012-07-24T22:00:00Z 2012-08-06T13:02:21Z AL HAMNIK: Carson Cunningham to enter Purdue's time machineBy Al Hamnik Times Columnist nwitimes.com
July 24, 2012 10:00 pm  • 

That wavy crop of hair is what you first noticed as Carson Cunningham led Purdue's fastbreak with authority a dozen years ago.

Even with Mackey Arena having the humidity of a greenhouse, the Boilermakers' point guard never had a single hair out of place during the game. Never.

He was Frankie Avalon with a crossover move.

"That's hilarious. You're showing your age," Cunningham laughed, "but they did call me 'Teen Wolf.'"

The Andrean grad will enjoy a blast from the past when he participates in Purdue's alumni game Aug. 4. Tip-off is 1 p.m.

Other former Boilermakers from the region scheduled to play include Kenny Lowe (West Side), Brandon Brantley (Andrean) and Brett Buscher (Chesterton).

An intrasquad scrimmage between members of the 2012-13 men's team will follow immediately after.

"Oh, man. If we could play on the courts I grew up on in Ogden Dunes, I could probably catch a little fire because I know all the ins and outs," said Cunningham, the boys coach at Andrean.

"But at this point, surviving the contest without any injuries that are going to leave me bed-ridden for a number of days will be a victory unto itself."

Purdue legend Gene Keady and current skipper Matt Painter will handle coaching duties. For Cunningham, it'll be like stepping into a time machine.

And when he lands, there to welcome him will be such former Purdue stars as Troy Lewis, Brian Cardinal, Dave Barrett, Travis Best, Todd Foster, Keaton Grant, Matt Kiefer, Chris Kramer, Carl Landry, David Teague and Todd Mitchell.

More than 3,600 tickets have been sold thus far.

"It's a way to really open the facility after all the changes that it has undergone," Cunningham said. "Most importantly, it's a chance to get players back together to celebrate Boiler hoops. Heck yeah, I'm excited.

"Plus, my kids are getting old enough that I can bore them with stories of the glory days."

Forget Woody Harrelson. The shifty Cunningham, who had a brief stint in pro ball, could've easily played opposite Wesley Snipes in the 1992 hit "White Men Can't Jump." Teen Wolf had game to spare.

He starred for Purdue from 1999 to 2001, averaging 9.2 points and 4.2 assists. There were bigger, better players who shared the floor with Cunningham, whose main job was getting them the ball.

There were no complaints from Keady, eventually a big fan of his often-eccentric, always-cerebral floor general.

"We're huge Purdue fans. My wife (Christy) played volleyball at Purdue," Cunningham said. "It'll be fun to get back on Mackey and run up and down a little bit."

Cunningham certainly has made the most of his college education, earning his doctorate in history, teaching at DePaul and having authored three books.

"You're not gonna find Purdue on the top five greatest party-destination schools on the planet," he said. "It's no-nonsense and a certain work ethic permeates the place with its engineering and agricultural strengths."

That's not being cerebral. That's spot on.

This column solely represents the writer's opinion. Reach him at al.hamnik@nwi.com

Copyright 2014 nwitimes.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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