Purdue women’s hoops team reloads for Big Ten title run

by Brian Hall

CHICAGO – Senior Kelly Komara experienced first hand how Purdue’s women’s basketball team became one of the elite teams in the nation.

The Boilermakers won the national championship during her freshman season and have appeared in two of the last three championship games.

Now the guard who watched last year’s senior class became the winningest in school history is the lone member of the 2002 class.

“I think this year being a senior it’s my turn, it’s my team,” Komara said. “If I say we’re going to win the Big Ten, or we’re going to go to the Final Four, you are either with me or against me. I am headed in one direction and one direction only.”

Over the weekend, Purdue was selected by the media as preseason conference champions and tied with Michigan in the coaches poll.

Returning to the top means the Boilermakers must overcome the loss of two-time All-American Katie Douglas, and two-time All-Big Ten selection Camille Cooper – both first round WNBA draft picks.

Filling the void are Komara, Shereka Wright, Laura Meadows, Erika Valek, and Mary Jo Noon.

“It’s what college athletics is all about,” coach Kristy Curry said. “It’s somebody else’s turn to step up. It is going to have to come from a combination.”

The top returning starter, Komara was an honorable mention All-Big Ten pick last season. She averaged 9.5 points per game last season and was named the Mideast regional’s most outstanding player.

Wright was named to the preseason All-Big Ten first team. Last season she scored 9.9 points per game to go with 4.7 rebounds and was named to the conference All-Freshman team, as well as the Final Four All-Tournament team.

“I always tell my kids, `Your best players should be your hardest workers,'” Curry said. “And (Wright) is one of the hardest workers day in and day out that I have ever coached.”

The team will also be helped by the arrival of senior forward Laura Meadows, a transfer from Kentucky, and the return to health of prospective starters Valek and Noon.

Komara has the opportunity to eclipse last year’s class and become the lone member of the winningest senior class in history with 29 wins this season.

The tradition-rich Boilermakers can assist her by filling the considerable shoes of Douglas and Cooper, something they have learned to do year in and year out.