Purdue’s attitude heading into the new basketball season is one of endurance and hard work. The Boilermakers have been focused on improving chemistry, individual skill and mindset.
Finishing last year with a 19-10 overall record — and 8-10 conference record — Purdue's goals for the upcoming season include an improved record and a Big Ten title, but its main focus will be working together to stay consistent and make every game count.
Head coach Sharon Versyp said the team hopes to treat every game with the same intensity.
“You always want to win a Big Ten title and always want to do great in (the) NCAA tournament and advance as far as you can,” Versyp said. “But every game matters, and that’s our mentality right now. Every game matters, every second matters, every moment matters.”
Junior guard Karissa McLaughlin agrees that an all-in mindset going into each game will improve the Boilers’ play from the last season.
“I think a lot of (the) time, we kind of just played to whoever we were playing instead of bringing everything we could to every single game, no matter who we were playing,” McLaughlin said. “That needs to be a difference in our team this year.”
Versyp will be looking at the point guards, McLaughlin and sophomore Kayana Traylor, to lead with the high level of play that she expects at each game.
“It starts with your point guard, and that’s Traylor and McLaughlin,” Versyp said. “They’re the two that have to set the pace for the team every time we step on the court.”
Intensity level is not the only change that Purdue will see heading into the season. As the Boilermakers return with all of the same starters, they have seen growth in individual maturity and they have formed a family-like community. They believe these factors will make an impact on the season ahead.
“I think every player has gotten better. Every player has worked on their game and (is) in the gym doing extra, so you’re going to see a lot more mature team,” Versyp said. “We’re still going to make mistakes, but you’re going to see the maturity in all facets, especially in understanding the game.”
The growing maturity and experience that the players have gained over the summer has built a family culture in the team that is different than in previous seasons. McLaughlin said that the tight bond will be the key that will give the team the ability to stay consistent throughout the Big Ten season.
“The past couple of years, we’ve kind of been struggling with that, like figuring out our identity, what are we going to be known for,” McLaughlin said. “I think we’ve kind of built that family culture to where we’re out there playing for each other. We’re like sisters out there. I think that’s what we’ve been missing the past few years.”