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5 burning questions answered by Matt Painter and the Purdue Boilermakers

Purdue University men's basketball coach Matt Painter answers some of the burning questions facing the Boilermakers squad this season. (WISH Photo)

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. (WISH) — There is plenty of excitement in West Lafayette ahead of the 2023-2024 Purdue University men’s basketball season.

The Associated Press released its men’s basketball preseason poll heading into the new season, ranking Purdue at No. 3 behind only Kansas and Duke.

The team is nearly a carbon copy of last season’s dominating bunch that spent seven weeks atop the national poll and went into the NCAA Tournament as a No. 1 seed before suffering one of the biggest upsets in the history of the tournament against No. 16 seed Fairleigh Dickinson.

The Boilers are using that loss as motivation ahead of this season.

Here are the five burning questions that you need to hear answered by coach Matt Painter and the Boilers.

1. How much will last season’s first-round exit from the NCAA Tournament fuel the team?

“You take that as a motivator to fight like hell to get back in that position and play better,” Painter said. “That really dwells with us. We fought so hard to get a great position, we accomplished a lot, but it means so much to advance in the tournament, and we obviously didn’t, so that has been a motivating factor for this team… As a coach, you don’t remember all the wins, you just remember the tough losses.”

“It’s really just pushed us,” sophomore guard Fletcher Loyer said. “We have a lot to prove; we have a lot to continue on from last season as we had a great year before that final game. [We don’t think] as much about that game, but the games to come. We know we have a lot to prove.”

2. How big is the No. 3 ranking in the preseason AP Poll for the Boilers?

“I don’t think that’s a big deal,” Painter said. “We’ve been here before. We’ve been the No. 1 ranked team two different times over the last two years and we were ranked No. 1 for seven weeks last year… Obviously, our guys want to do well, so they are working really hard this summer to put themselves in a good position.”

“I don’t really care about rankings,” senior forward Mason Gillis said. “It’s just a number at the end of the day. It doesn’t matter… It’s like jewelry; it really doesn’t mean anything, but it looks nice.”

3. It’s rare that the reigning National Player of the Year comes back for another season. How big is Zach Edey’s return for the team?

“We all understand he’s the star player. There is no doubt about that,” Gillis said. “He’s going to get the most shots, the most playing time, but it’s how can [the supporting cast] help him produce?… He’s a great guy, he’s not big-timing us thinking that he deserves everything; he’s still Zach Edey, he’s still humble, still who he should be.”

“We have to take advantage of it,” Loyer said. “Not a lot of teams have that. We know what’s at stake this year. We know we have the returning National Player of the Year and a great returning team, too. We know we have to go out every night no matter who we are playing and play harder than them.”

4. What can fans expect to see from this Boilers squad?

“Obviously we will be a good team,” Loyer said. “But I think we are going to be a very hard-playing team, and a team that plays together, a team that plays to win. The fans are really going to like that we are playing for them. They’re pretty great. The paint crew, all of Mackey Arena, is awesome. We all thank them for that, so we are going to go out and play hard every night.”

“Just like any other season, we are going to bring it,” sophomore guard Braden Smith said. “We’re going to play very intense. We are ready to win some games.”

“A fun game to watch,” Gillis said. “I feel like the fans can see how close we were together and I think they appreciate that. So we are going to keep winning games; that’s the most exciting part to me.”

5. What kind of impact will freshman guard Myles Colvin (Heritage Christian) have this season?

“He can help us starting with outside shooting,” Painter said. “That is something that we really slipped last year… I think he can give us that punch with his ability to shoot the basketball. He’s going to be a fabulous player for us.”

Purdue will host Samford at Mackey Arena to open the regular season on Monday.

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