March 10, 2014
ATLANTA, Ga. - The Purdue women's basketball team was named a finalist for the Russell Athletic "Together We R" Team Award on Monday, as announced by the Women's Basketball Coaches Association (WBCA). The Boilermakers are one of four teams on the ballot, joined by Colorado Christian University, the University of North Carolina and the University of South Carolina.
In its third year, the "Together We R" Team Award honors programs that have strived to succeed in the face of adversity, overcoming extraordinary circumstances such as an unforeseen team crisis, barrier or unfortunate situation that caused extra stress. The team must exemplify strong commitment to core values of togetherness, courage, unparalleled work ethic and heart, and must personify the "Together We R" belief that teams are stronger than individuals.
The Boilermakers have been through a series of tragic and unfortunate events over the past six months, including the death of junior Liza Clemons' fiancé, Johnny Lee Braster Jr., the loss of dear friends Riley Smith and Tom Reiter to illness and the campus shooting of Purdue student Andrew Boldt. In addition, senior guard KK Houser suffered a career-ending ACL injury on Feb. 2, sidelining the Boilermaker captain for the final six games of the regular season.
"I couldn't be more proud of my team," said Versyp. "These ladies have showed such amazing resilience and support for each other, and they've done it through actions, not just words."
Purdue is 21-8 on the year and await word of a probable at-large bid to the 2014 NCAA Championship Tournament, set to be announced Monday night. The Boilermakers have added pieces to their uniforms throughout the year to honor each of their lost friends, including the blue shoe laces for Braster Jr., and the purple "R" on each of their shoes for Smith. Fans can support the Boilermakers in their nomination by "Liking" their video on YouTube, in addition to supporting men's basketball head coach Matt Painter on ESPN here.
"We view the recognition not as an award, but as way to honor the lives of three people very close to our program and the resilience of our team and staff in moving forward and playing for a bigger purpose," added Versyp.
The Boilermakers will host NCAA First and Second Round games in Mackey Arena on March 22 and 24, and tickets are available at PurdueSports.com.