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April 10, 2013
Purdue's end-of-season banquet was a little different this year, as it was the first time in years the general tone of the event was tinted with regret.
The Boilermakers didn't have the sort of season they're accustomed to, finishing 16-18 and missing the NCAA Tournament after a half dozen consecutive appearances.
"It's not the usual for us," said guard Terone Johnson, who'll be a senior next season. "You never want your seniors to leave like that. I think that's something our young guys are going to look at, and me, I don't want to go out at like that. It was a humbling experience, but there's a lot of basketball left for the rest of us."
D.J. Byrd joined Dru Anthrop as the team's outgoing seniors. He believes this transitional year was the start of something big for Purdue.
"They're going to make some minor adjustments and after struggling like this, I know the guys on the team won't want to start like that again for the very beginning (next season)," Byrd said. "With the talent they have and the year we had this year, they'll be motivated to prove themselves over the summer."
Whether it was administrators or Coach Matt Painter at the podium at the banquet - held in Mackey Arena - the message was clear: Look forward, not backward.
"Like Coach said, 'This is definitely a year to learn from and just keep making strides toward next year,'" Terone Johnson said. "I think we have all the talent in the world. It's just about putting it all together."
Johnson named MVP: After a season in which he averaged a team-best 13.5 points and earned All-Big Ten honors, Terone Johnson was elected the Boilermakers' MVP by a team vote.
"Coach (Micah Shrewsberry) put it to me best, and he wasn't being mean about it or anything," Terone Johnson said, "when he said, 'Being the leading scorer on a team that didn't make the tournament or anything like that ...' I made some individual strides, but as a team, we need to be doing that. It's a matter of getting everybody together, working on their game this summer and coming back ready for next year."
A.J. Hammons won the Rebound Award for leading Purdue in rebounding. Ronnie Johnson won the Bob King Assist Award for leading the Boilermakers in assists.
Byrd won the Courage Award for drawing the most charges. Ronnie Johnson won the Play Hard Award, based off a statistical hodgepodge that factors in steals, deflections and other such things.
Anthrop won the Lambert Award for boasting the team's highest GPA the past two semesters. Anthrop also won the Ray Eddy Mr. Hustle Award, voted on by teammates.
No Marcius: Big man Sandi Marcius, who's requested a release from his scholarship, which would allow him to spend his final season of eligibility elsewhere, was not present at the banquet.
Painter has talked with the fifth-year senior, but there was no finality to his status as of Wednesday night.
Marcius can graduate from Purdue this summer. Once granted a release, he'd be free to play elsewhere next season without sitting out.
Purdue would like him to stay, particularly after the center was one of the team's most valuable players late in the season.
"He was fabulous," Painter said. "He really gave us some energy and did some really good things. It takes a little longer sometimes for big guys, but he made great strides.
"But you wish him the best (if he leaves). If somebody doesn't want to be in your program and they're not happy, it's best you move on and not stay."
Marcius might leave.
Whether any others will follow remains to be seen.
Painter will meet with players individually Thursday and Friday.
"It'll be interesting," Painter said. "We wait to get through the banquet, then we sit down and talk with each guy. After a guy's been with you a year, two years, three years, you need to let them know where you see them, what they need to work on, where their future is. A lot of times as a player you think a coach is picking your minutes when in reality you're making your own bed.
"We're going to have a heart-to-heart with every single player and see where we are. Morgan (Burke) talked about it up there (at the podium): 'You do more soul-searching after a year like this.' You have to be very honest with guys about where they stand and their production or lack thereof at this point and what they're going to do. The only way you're going to cure that is through hard work and a good attitude. You have to make sure everyone's on board with that.
"We'll see. I don't know. We'll see if there's any more changes."
One last farewell: Outgoing seniors Byrd and Anthrop will be missed, Painter said.
"Both of them did a great job for us," Painter said. "When you start a program, you want good guys who are good students who'll play hard and represent your institution in a class way, and both those guys did that. They laid it on the line for us.
"You feel bad for them. As a coach, you feel like, 'What more could you have done to help them?' And if everyone's in their right mind as a player, you felt that way about your coach, too. Sometimes it's not reciprocal. You shouldn't want to let your coach down, and as a coach you don't want to let them down.
"They were both great. We just wish we could have had a better finish."
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