Purdue preseason Big Ten favorite, hopes to avoid Illini’s McCamey



By Jeremy Werner

Big Ten Media Day seemed like a preseason coronation for the Purdue men’s basketball team. The Boilermakers were picked by a media panel as the conference’s preseason favorite and sophomore Robbie Hummel was named Big Ten Preseason Player of the Year.

The 6-foot-8 Purdue forward is the only returnee from last year’s All-Big Ten First Team. Hummel averaged 11.4 points and 6.1 rebounds per game to help lead a young Boilermakers team to a 25-9 record.

“I was surprised,” Hummel said at the O’Hare Marriot in Chicago on Sunday. “There’s a lot of good players in this league, and I think it’s an honor to be named the Big Ten Preseason Player of the Year. It’s really an award from last year, based on what you did last season. Really, I think it’s a team thing. It’s a tribute to the guys who got me open. I think our team’s very, very unselfish and distributes the ball.”

Matt Painter, the 2008 Big Ten Coach of the Year, said Hummel is more likely to be embarrassed by the award than accept it with arrogance.

“I’m excited for one of our guys to get named preseason player of the year, and I don’t know if he’s the best player on our team,” Painter said. “There’s days he’s the best player on our team. There’s games he’s the best player on our team. But there’s days E’Twaun Moore, Keaton Grant, Chris Kramer, they are … That’s not a knock on (Hummel). That’s a credit to all our other guys, and that’s a credit to our balance.”

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Purdue returns all of its starters and seven of its top eight scorers from last season’s second-place Big Ten team. Sophomore guard E’Twaun Moore was named to the preseason All-Big Ten team after averaging 12.9 points per game as a freshmen. Junior Chris Kramer returns as the reigning Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year.

Despite the strength of its roster and the preseason hype, Painter and the Boilermakers each iterated that the preseason publicity does not automatically equal success during the season.

“I made the comment earlier that the past 15 years, the preseason favorite has only won (the conference) six times,” Painter said. “So now it says we only have a 40 percent chance if you go by the numbers … For us, in terms of where we were three years ago, it’s a great feeling that we’ve made strides in our program. But still, you don’t start your season at 25-9. You start it at 0-0, and you have to prove yourself all over again.”

Loss to Illinois still haunts Boilermakers

When asked what he learned from the Boilermakers’ 74-67 overtime loss to Illinois in the second round of last season’s Big Ten Tournament, Purdue junior Chris Kramer said: “Not to let Demetri McCamey shoot.”

McCamey’s 26-point performance lifted Illinois to an upset of then-No. 17-ranked Purdue. The Illini took that momentum to beat Minnesota in the semifinals before losing to Wisconsin in the Big Ten Championship game. Purdue lost in the second round of the NCAA Tournament to Xavier.

“He got hot, and once he got hot it’s just off to the races for a guy like that,” Kramer said.

McCamey, a freshman at the time, made nine of 14 shots, including all six of his 3-point attempts. McCamey is expected to be Illinois’ go-to player this season.

“That was just a great performance from him,” Hummel said. He was making everything it seemed like. You couldn’t stop him. Demetri’s a great player. He’s very talented.”