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Hammer and Rails Interview

It's Purdue week here at BT Powerhouse and with that we have interviewed Hammer and Rails' very own Travis Miller on everything from the Matt Painter scare to Patrick Bade leaving, as well as this past season. We also got his predictions for the upcoming year. 

Be sure to check out all things Purdue at Hammer and Rails, SB Nation's Purdue Boilermakers Blog.

General Questions:

BT Powerhouse: How did Purdue perform compared to your expectations at the beginning of the season?

Hammer and Rails:  I don’t know if I was just delusional or what, but I still expected to make the Final Four and contend for a National Championship. With the way we tore through February and had an outside chance at a #1 seed it still seemed possible even then. I always said that we would win the 2011 National title if JJ, Rob, and E`twaun stuck around because it was the perfect balance of talent, experience, and depth you rarely get in college basketball. I thought we’d get a little more from Travis Carroll and Sandi Marcius as JJ’s backups, but if Hummel stays healthy who knows.

The 1-3 finish was highly disappointing mostly because we looked nothing like the team we had been for two straight months. Even in beating St. Peter’s we didn’t look that great. Seeing how bad UConn and Butler both played in the title game just makes me angry because I know we could have beaten either team. It just doesn’t seem right that JJ and Smooge never got past a Sweet 16, and that injuries to Rob derailed their last two years.


BT Powerhouse: With Matt Painter scaring the daylights out of both Purdue fans and the Purdue athletic department, do you think he will get what he wants at Purdue and have all the resources necessary to win a national championship?

Hammer and Rails:  Absolutely. It is only a matter of time before he puts us in a Final Four, and I could see him doing it in a year where we’re not expected to make it. If George Mason, Butler, and VCU can get on runs and make Final Fours, our day will have to come. Once there, anything can happen. His 2012 and 2013 classes are looking great. All that needs to happen is for us to shake whatever happens in March.

BT Powerhouse: Are you surprised Patrick Bade is leaving Matt Painter's program to play football for Danny Hope and the 2011 Purdue Boilermaker Football team? How well do you think he will do?

Hammer and Rails: I am a little surprised, mostly because he was talked about so highly last offseason. Then he saw his minutes get taken by Marcius and Carroll. Now Lawson and Hale are coming in as similar type of players, so maybe he saw an opportunity to use his last three years (because he can still play three for football). I think he’ll get a chance to play at least in the red zone because a 6’8" tight end is a matchup nightmare.


BT Powerhouse: With the program losing E'Twaun Moore and JaJuan Johnson to graduation, how do you expect them to fill that void?

Hammer and Rails:  I really look for Terone Johnson to grow into the role that E`Twaun had these past few years. I sometimes refer to him as E`Twaun 2.0 because of his ability to drive and score. Redshirt freshman Anthony Johnson could take some of his scoring load as well. For JJ, no one is going to replace his unique skills set. Marcius and Carroll can replace him in the lineup, but they are more traditional bangers and aren’t the perimeter threat that JJ was. Carroll has a nice 15-footer, but that is about it. Both need to develop big time this offseason.

BT Powerhouse: Purdue recruiting looks bright. Matt Painter looks to have the Boilers on track. The 2011 class consists of Jacob Lawson and Donnie Hale. What impact do you think these two guys will have on the program?

Hammer and Rails:  I can see them both playing immediately because of our lack of experienced depth in the post. We have Hummel… and that’s about it. Painter will likely play with Hale, Lawson, Marcius, and Carroll to see his best combination. Hale is supposed to be a Hummel clone, so I am really excited to see what he has to offer.

BT Powerhouse: Following the 2011 class, Matt Painter has secured a great 2012 class and 2013 class. The 2012 class has two ESPN Top 100 recruits and ESPN is currently ranking Purdue with the 9th ranked recruiting class for that year. In 2013, Purdue has already had three commits from the ESPN Top 100. What impact is this going to have on the Purdue-Indiana Rivalry? Do you think the rivalry is starting to heat up once again, especially with Indiana having the 2012 top ranked recruiting class?

Hammer and Rails:  I won’t believe anything coming from Bloomington until they actually produce on the court. Remember, they had the #9 recruiting class in 2009 and they have yet to finish outside the Big Ten cellar. Cody Zeller is a hell of a talent, so if they can mesh with him this year and at least get to .500 I’ll start to believe. I think the excuses end this year for Crean and company. If he can’t field a competitive team this year it won’t matter who he has coming because he clearly cannot get the job done on the floor.


Outside of Zeller I am not scared at all. Yogi Ferrell is a similar player to Ronnie Johnson (Terone Johnson’s brother). Hanner Perea is gifted athletically, but lacks polish. What we have coming in is rising, while a lot of their ratings are falling.


The Best and Worst of 2010-2011:

BT Powerhouse: Which player this past season lived up to their hype the most... Moore or Johnson?

Hammer and Rails:  JJ. I felt Moore disappeared sometimes and it cost. He also did not have a great NCAA Tournament. JJ. Was on from day 1.

BT Powerhouse: Which player was the biggest disappointment?

Hammer and Rails:  Based on the preseason talk, Bade. He began the year as a starter and was supposed to be a major contributor based on what he had done in the offseason. By the end of the year he was barely playing.

BT Powerhouse: Which player was the biggest surprise?

Hammer and Rails: Ryne Smith started shooting the lights out in Big Ten play and really became a weapon as the season went on. You don’t want to leave him open if he can step into the shot.

BT Powerhouse: What was the best win? 

Hammer and Rails: E`Twaun’s 38-point evisceration of Ohio State on National TV. I was there and it was a special atmosphere in Mackey that day.

BT Powerhouse: What was the worst win?

Hammer and Rails:  Illinois on March 1. We won on Senior day, but that was the first sign that something was wrong with the team headed into the postseason.

BT Powerhouse: What was the best loss?

Hammer and Rails:  I felt the game at Wisconsin was one that could have gone either way. We had a one point lead late and the Badgers found a way to get that last boost. It would be nice to see how different the loss at West Virginia would have been if drunken Jim Burr wasn’t swayed by every home crowd like he is.

BT Powerhouse: What was the worst loss?

Hammer and Rails:  The VCU loss in the tournament. We got absolutely manhandled by a CAA team, and looked nothing like the team that had thumped Ohio State less than a month before.

Looking Toward The Future:

BT Powerhouse: What are your expectations and predictions of the 2011-2012 Purdue Boilermakers? 

Hammer and Rails:  I expect to compete for a Big Ten title and threaten for a second weekend run in the NCAAs. I know I am a homer, but the rest of the Big Ten loses a lot too. I thought Michigan would be a championship-level team before Darius Morris stayed in the draft. Only Ohio State looks like they won’t have a severe dropoff, and Sullinger still loses a lot of his supporting cast.. I think you’re going to have a wide open race, so why not us.

BT Powerhouse: How long do you think it will be before Purdue wins their first NCAA National Championship?

Hammer and Rails: In my mind we already have two if the Demon Wood Of Xibalba At The Barn had not cost Rob his ACL. As it is, I think Painter gets one in the next 10-15 years, long before IU gets another.