All Time Best Boilermakers Plus Thoughts from Kenny
If Purdue fans think that 7-4 Zach Edey and 6-10 Trevion Williams are difficult matchups for opponents, consider this fantasy challenge: a front line that features Hall of Famers Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Bill Walton.
That’s the scenario composed as part of a project by ESPN.com writer Myron Medcalf, who was tasked with picking the all-time starting fives for this year’s NCAA Tournament Sweet 16 field.
Not surprisingly, Abdul-Jabbar and Walton were two – pardon the pun – big reasons while UCLA’s all-time starting five ranked No. 1 on Medcalf’s list. Indiana Pacers great Reggie Miller, 1977 Wooden Award winner Marques Johnson and a pretty fair guard named Gail Goodrich rounded out the Bruins’ lineup coached by Purdue legend John Wooden.
Medcalf ranked Purdue’s lineup ninth but there was, to me, an obvious omission.
Three picks were gimmes: Rick Mount at one guard slot, Glenn Robinson at forward and center Joe Barry Carroll. Three All-Americans and pretty fair scorers who would give opponents headaches trying to choose which to concentrate on defensively.
Mount averaged 32.3 points a game during his career at Purdue, an era (1967-70) when there was no 3-point line. The 1966 Indiana Mr. Basketball led the Boilermakers to the 1969 NCAA championship game against UCLA and Abdul-Jabbar, whose name then was Lew Alcindor.
Robinson, the national player of the year in 1994, was the nation’s top scorer that season at 30.3 points a game to go with 11.2 rebounds. His back injury following a Sweet 16 victory against Kansas probably cost Purdue a Final Four berth.
The 7-foot Carroll earned first-team All-America honors in 1980, Purdue’s most recent Final Four season. Carroll averaged 22.3 points a game as a senior.
The debate really begins with Medcalf’s other two selections. It’s possible that recency bias led to his choices of Carsen Edwards and Jaden Ivey.
Edwards will be forever remembered for averaging nearly 35 points a game during the 2019 NCAA tournament. Had fate not been cruel against Virginia in that tournament, perhaps a stronger argument could be made that Edwards is an all-time great.
As for Ivey, it’s difficult to assess a career still in progress. I won’t argue with Medcalf that the sophomore guard is one of the most talented players in Purdue history. But just because Ivey is a projected top five NBA Draft pick this summer is not automatic entry into the Boilermakers’ greatest starting lineup. Recognizing Ivey’s status in the NBA Draft also violates Medcalf’s self-imposed rule of only considering collegiate achievements.
To me, any all-time Purdue starting five has to include 6-7 forward-center Terry Dischinger.
The Terre Haute native was so talented that at age 19 he was the youngest member of the 1960 Olympic team, the first to be labeled a “Dream Team.” Dischinger was a starter and the fourth-leading scorer for the U.S., which fielded a lineup of Oscar Robertson and Jerry West in the backcourt, and big men Jerry Lucas and Walt Bellamy.
Dischinger was coming off a sophomore season when he averaged a Big Ten-best 26.3 points and 14.3 rebounds. A first-team All-American as a junior, Dischinger was again the Big Ten scoring champion at 28.2 points to go with a 13.4 rebounding average.
At 30.3 points a game, Dischinger wrapped up a third Big Ten scoring title and again averaged 13.4 rebounds. When he left Purdue, he owned nearly every school scoring record and remains sixth on the career scoring list with 1,979 points in just 70 games. His career averages of 28.3 points and 13.7 rebounds are mind-boggling but so are his career percentages of 55.3 field goal shooting and 81.9 percent at the free throw line.
Dischinger and his Olympic teammates were voted into the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame in 2010.
Ask me two weeks from now and I may have a different fifth starter on my list. But, since we’re going on collegiate accomplishments only I’ll take John Wooden as my point guard.
The first man to be elected to the Naismith Hall of Fame as a player (1960) and then later as a coach (1973), Wooden had a big role in Purdue’s only recognized national championship in 1932. That was seven years before the first NCAA tournament.
Wooden was the first player to be a consensus first-team All-American three times. As a 5-10 guard, he earned the nickname “The Indiana Rubber Man” for his frequent dives on the court pursuing loose basketballs.
Gene Keady, a seven-time Big Ten coach of the year, was Medcalf’s choice to coach the all-time Boilermakers. It’s the right decision today as Purdue’s winningest coach but a decade from now the answer could be Matt Painter.
At age 51, Painter already has 17 seasons and 384 victories entering Friday night’s Sweet 16 matchup with Saint Peter’s in Philadelphia. Barring a repeat of 2012-13 and 2013-14 seasons or leaving for another job, Painter could pass Keady’s 512 victories in the 2027-2028 season by averaging just over 21 wins. That’s a total Painter has achieved 12 times at Purdue.
Thoughts and notes
Are you as tired as I am of seeing the backs of referees during all too frequent replays?
Replay has become a crutch for mediocre officials, which the Big Ten and this NCAA tournament has far too many. During an interview with The Athletic, the NCAA’s national coordinator of men’s basketball officiating actually suggested that the average replay lasted 52 seconds. Anyone who has watched Purdue play this season has yet to see a replay under two minutes in length. One review during the Texas game seemed like it lasted longer than the halftime show.
“The reason we go to the monitor is it gives us a chance to be closer to perfect in those last two minutes,” J.D. Collins told The Athletic. “The goal is to get it right.”
I’m all for replay to see if a shot came before the buzzer but scrutinizing a play like the Zapruder film that captured the assassination of John F. Kennedy is a major turn-off. At the pace officials are going to the monitor, three hour college basketball games are in the future.
Here’s a suggestion: Sixty seconds maximum for review to be viewed only by the crew chief. At the end of one minute, the screen goes black and the original call stands. Another suggestion: Replay may only be used for last-second shots and out of bounds calls under two minutes. …
It’s been 20 years since Purdue shot as many free throws as it did against Texas on Sunday in the NCAA tournament second round. The Boilermakers were 35 of 46 against Illinois on Jan. 9, 2002. …
Purdue’s offensive magic number continues to be 70. The Boilermakers are 26-0 when reaching 70 points and own a 40-game winning streak when Purdue puts up 80 or more points. …
Ivey joined an exclusive club following his 18 points against Texas. Since the 1992-93 season, the only Big Ten players with 600 points, 150 rebounds, 100 assist, 30 steals and 20 blocked shots in a season are Frank Kaminsky of Wisconsin, Draymond Green of Michigan State, Evan Turner of Ohio State and Ivey. …
Milestone watch: Trevion Williams is six points and three rebounds from 1,400 career points and 900 career rebounds. Sasha Stefanovic is 31 points from becoming the 55th Boilermaker to score 1,000 points.
– Kenny Thompson is the former sports editor for the Lafayette Journal & Courier and an award-winning journalist. He has covered Purdue athletics for many years.