Stars not out Saturday night

Kristian Pope

Theory: Clem Haskins believes a team built with no superstars is one primed for success.
Evidence: In three consecutive years, the superstar player has put Big Ten championship plaques in Purdue coach Gene Keady’s office down in West Lafayette, Ind.
What does that prove? Coaching style and little else. That understood, it’s hard to dispute Keady’s recent formula for success in the Big Ten.
In 1994, it was NBA No. 1 draft pick Glenn Robinson who led Purdue. In successive years after the Big Dog, Cuonzo Martin in 1995 and Roy Hairston and Porter Roberts in 1996 did the talking. Keady was named National Coach of the Year in those three seasons — and five times overall — because of those nasty old superstars.
This year, without a Big Dog, the Boilermakers have gone to the dogs. The team stands at 4-3 in the conference and would seem an unlikely closer in the conference title race.
Part of the Boilermakers’ trouble is due to its young pups. Without a single senior captain — only Paul Gilvydis is a senior and he sees only a few minutes — Purdue is led by two juniors and three freshman. That’s hardly a recipe for winning a fourth straight title.
“I don’t know how many people have done that or not,” Keady said after his team’s 91-68 loss to Minnesota on Saturday. “You have to know every opponents’ home court. The crowds (at Williams Arena) are great and they really get after you.
“It’s something that the kids can fight through and focus on and become mature about.”
Purdue center Brad Miller, despite being a junior, is a team co-captain. He’s been around two winners in the past. Even though the team is without a star this season, Miller concurs with Keady’s sentiments.
“We have just as much talent,” Miller said. “It’s just the inexperience of the road. There’s new people who haven’t played in a hostile environment before.”
Haskins has always preached the team game. He was quick to downplay Sam Jacobson’s 29 point outburst following the Iowa game Thursday. Without any superstars on his team, it appears Haskins’ Gophers are winning the head-to-head battle with the current star-less Boilermakers.
“We’re not the greatest five in the country, we know that,” Haskins said. “We don’t have any super-duper players, high school All-Americans. We have a bunch of guys who work within each other.
“We don’t put emphasis on one guy. Someone each night picks us up each night.”
For now, Keady and Purdue will have to wait. And learn. Freshman Jarran Cornell was accused of yelling at the officials, which caused Keady to fire back and get a technical foul.
Things like that will happen when you are young and inexperienced. But Haskins, who has beat Purdue only five times since he arrived at Minnesota 11 seasons ago, was quick to predict Purdue to reclaim conference prowess.
“This year he’s young and staring over again,” Haskins said. “We’ve got to get him now. Two years from now it’s going to be awfully tough to beat him.”