A suspended Purdue men’s basketball player had a message for his teammates following the Boilermakers’ season-opening win against Northern Kentucky.
Sophomore center A.J. Hammons, who was suspended for Purdue’s two exhibition games and regular season opener, told the team he was ready to move forward from his mistakes.
“I just (told) them I apologize for the mistakes I’ve made since I’ve been here and that I’ll be ready for them next game,” Hammons said.
He declined to elaborate on what led to his suspension, but said the situation was a “wake-up call.” He is expected to return Wednesday night when Purdue faces Central Connecticut State.
“(My teammates) are already three games ahead of me, so I have to catch up,” Hammons said. “I have to jump in and try to get into their cohesiveness.”
Hammons sat out Purdue’s dramatic 77-76 opening night victory, but said he was thrilled the Boilermakers came back to win.
“I kind of figured people were going to say (it was my fault) if we lost,” Hammons said. “I’m glad they (won).”
Poise shown in opener
The result of an opening night thriller on Nov. 8 would have been different had Purdue played Northern Kentucky last season, according to head coach Matt Painter.
“It was kind of the silver lining of the game for us – we wouldn’t have won this game last year,” Painter said. “I thought our guys stepped up and made plays there late to help us escape.”
Team hunger, toughness questioned
Purdue had issues maintaining physical play in its win over Northern Kentucky.
Painter expressed his frustration that Purdue couldn’t outrebound the Norse, as the teams tied at 35 in total boards.
“I thought they were quicker to the basketball,” Painter said. “Maybe we can learn from them, because they were a hungrier team.”
Northern Kentucky outrebounded Purdue on an individual level as guard Todd Johnson had 11 rebounds to nine from Boilermaker forward Errick Peck and six from forward Jay Simpson.
“We just have to stay focused and do our assignments,” Simpson said. “At the end, I felt like we didn’t box out like we should have. I felt like that’s the reason the game was so close.”
Improvement needed Wednesday
The Boilermakers will return to the floor 7 p.m. Wednesday at Mackey Arena to take on the Central Connecticut State Blue Devils.
The Blue Devils were picked fifth in the Preseason Northeast Conference Coaches Poll and are led by Preseason All-Conference guard Kyle Vinales.
Vinales became the quickest player to reach 1,000 points in school history.
Central Connecticut State opened their season with a 93-77 loss to Yale where Vinales scored 30 points.