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February 14, 2013
For a team whose effort's been called into question as it's struggled lately, Sandi Marcius stood out during the Boilermakers' blowout loss at Illinois Wednesday night.
The junior big man's seen his minutes increase ever so slightly in recent games.
Part of that's been the need for a bigger body in reserve of starting center A.J. Hammons, but part of it, too, has been Marcius' energy, which was apparent in Champaign.
Marcius said Thursday that he's become more focused lately and with that focus has come greater intensity.
And it's been positive energy.
"Just being a team player and trying to do whatever I need to do to help us win," he said, "but we came up short last night, obviously. Just trying to play your role and stick to that and that's it."
In a Big Ten season-most 12 minutes against Illinois, Marcius scored six points, grabbed four rebounds, blocked a shot and corralled a steal.
He made 3-of-7 shots, one of the misses being the play on which Coach Matt Painter wanted a foul and got ejected over it, appropriately enough fighting for the player who seemed to be fighting the hardest for his team.
"My motivation," Marcius said, "is just to go in and play like you're only going to play one, two or three minutes and give as much as you can (in that time) and help your teammates, especially when some of them are struggling. I just want to try to spark them and give them energy, too."
Late in the game, as Illinois was putting the finishing touches on the blowout, there was a moment or two where Purdue didn't seem all that interested in huddling up between free throws. Marcius forced the issue.
"The most important thing for me," Marcius said, "is to just stay together on the court and not dig a deeper hole. Just stick together."
It's been the high point of an otherwise up-and-down season for Marcius, who was Purdue's starting center to open the year after closing last season strong, then playing well during the Boilermakers' exhibition tour to Italy in the summer.
But Hammons emerged quickly as a critical player for Purdue, with Travis Carroll serving as his primary backup in most games this season. Marcius has played an average of just six-and-a-half minutes per game.
Marcius, who redshirted as a freshman, said he expects to graduate from Purdue in the summer before likely starting graduate school. He has one season of playing eligibility remaining after this one.
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