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Purdue celebrates basketball history and future during alumni game

Alumni game.jpg

Carl Landry plays at the highest level in the National Basketball Association, but there is still something special about coming home.

“Walking through the tunnels, walking up and down the street visiting some of the places I used to go to, is just like the old days,” he said.  “Having a chance to do it (again) with some of the guys I used to do it with, it felt good.”

Landry was among the roughly 6,300 on-hand, Saturday, for the Purdue alumni basketball game.  The former Boilermaker and current Golden State Warrior didn’t play, but said he was impressed with those who did.

“Surprisingly most of the guys aren’t as fat as I’d thought they’d be,” he joked. “Everybody is still in shape, taking care of themselves.”

Current Purdue head coach Matt Painter led the Gold team against the Black team which was coached by his mentor, Gene Keady.

The teacher ended up getting the best of his student.

Keady’s team won 73-70 on a Lewis Jackson three-pointer as time expired.

Jackson, who graduated from Purdue this year and played for four years under Painter, said it felt sweet to top his former coach.

“I knew I was shooting it,” he said.  “It’s a tied game and I could beat coach Painter? I said, ‘yea I’m going to take (the shot).’”

Jackson was one of the newer alums.  Ryne Smith, who also played on the team last year, was on Painter’s gold team.

But, the game highlighted a long history of Purdue basketball.

The rosters included greats from the 80s such as Dave Barrett, Todd Mitchell, and Troy Lewis, who can still shoot lights out.  The early to mid-90s were represented by Justin Jennings, Roy Hairston, Brandon Brantley, and Todd Foster.

NBA Champion Brian Cardinal topped the list of those who played in the late 90s and early part of the 2000s.  He was joined by Carson Cunningham, Travis Best, Kenneth Lowe, and Chad Kerkhoff.

"I think this is great, having a chance to bring everybody back and show everybody what has happened here and the transformation. I think it's a great event," said Cardinal. 

"It's just fun to come back, fun to come back to see the fans, see the kids, and having a chance to play under coach Keady one more time, see a lot of my past teammates, good friends, and having a chance to reminisce with them and be a part of this event was great."

The older alums, for the most part, were still able to run with some of the more recent Purdue stars like Jackson, Smith, David Teague, Chris Reid, Matt Kiefer, Tarrance Crump, Marcus Greene, Mark Wohlford, and Chris Kramer.

JaJuan Johnson and Robbie Hummel also came back for the event, but rested their legs from the stands as they prep for the upcoming NBA season.

“This was unbelievable,” said Kramer, who is planning to play professionally again in Germany this year.  “I think it was great for the fans, great for us, and I hope they keep on doing this every year.”

Not only was the alumni game a chance for the former Boilermakers to lace up the sneakers at Mackey one more time, but a chance to reflect and in some cases, even make new friends.

“This was my first time meeting Troy Lewis and he is a guy I read a lot about and heard a lot about” said Kenneth Lowe.  “It was really nice to just to see a lot of my teammates and former players.”

Lowe and the other alums also used the time back on campus to educate.  They met and advised the current Boilermakers who are getting ready for the upcoming season with a trip to Italy later this month.

“They were saying every day is a grind.  You really can’t take days off,” said junior Terone Johnson.  “I was talking to Tarrance Crump, and Lewis (Jackson), and Marcus Greene and they just said every day is a new day to get better.”

And for Matt Painter, that camaraderie and program unity is what days like Saturday are all about.

“You see the ovation’s (fans) give certain people in the program, the guys that were better players and they guys who played hard and laid it on the line,” he said.  “It was good to see that kind of support from our fans and I know our former players appreciated it.”