I do attempt humor from time to time, and will touch on serious issues if necessary.
Please understand that I'm officially old, turning 65 this season, but I'm not dead yet. I don't fantasize about the old days, nor do I want to return to them. Well, not the basketball days. My opinions are mine, not invented by a ghost writer. So, here we go.
Quite a few things have happened since we last visited. First, there was the flirtation between Matt Painter and the University of Missouri. There was Painter's new deal to stay at Purdue, the finishing touches on the Mackey renovation, the drafting of both JaJuan Johnson and E'Twaun Moore by the Celtics and the hiring of two new coaches.
And lest we forget the Robbie Hummel knee saga. Those are the highlights.
The new renovations are superb. I'm tickled pink that, for the most part, the intergrity of the arena was maintained. There are a few things to be finished, mainly the practice gym, but the players are impressed.
No one in college basketball deserves an injury-free season more than Hummel. I'm convinced he'll have a banner year. Everyone associated with his family has handled the last 18 months with amazing class. I've run into so many people from other places in the country who are aware of his fate, and all have mentioned how they'll be pulling for him this season.
I've heard quite a few complaints about Purdue's opponent for the re-dedication game on Nov. 11. UCLA made the most sense, but they didn't want to do it. Period. I do know that Elliot Bloom worked hard to land a high-profile opponent. For those people who say we should have thrown out a big paycheck to secure an opponent, my question would be, "How big?" It just doesn't make sense.
I wish Paul Lusk the best at Missouri State. We developed a friendship while he was here, and I'll miss him. Meanwhile, Cuonzo Martin is taking on a challenge at Tennessee, but if folks give him some time, he'll deliver!
Finally, my early feelings on this year's team.
If you look at Wisconsin from year to year, you wonder sometimes about its talent level, but never about coach Bo Ryan. Matt Painter has been Big Ten Coach of the Year three times, but he doesn't get the same respect. Now, I'm not saying he should be considered Bo's equal, but what Painter has accomplished over the past five years is remarkable.
The reason I bring it up is that no one is going to predict Wisconsin to slip to sixth or seventh in the league this year, like so many have predicted for Purdue.
I feel our team will be as good, if not better, than last year's team, and I expect them to go far into the Big Ten and NCAA tournaments.
In his second season here, I remember talking to Painter about what he wanted to accomplish in the first five or six years at Purdue. He wanted to establish a defensive identity and be consistently challenging for championships. He has accomplished those goals, and I don't see any reason why it won't continue.
Now, these predictions are predicated on no severe injuries and Hummel being healthy all season. If that happens, I honestly feel we'll have a very good team.
Talk to you next week after the first exhibition game.