Snorkeling, sun and a championship trophy.
Purdue got exactly what it wanted out of the Paradise Jam in the Virgin Islands.
The Boilermakers had to battle in the first game to beat South Dakota State, dominated in the semifinal victory over St. Joseph's and then survived a nail-biter to beat No. 10 Tennessee in the championship game.
Players were available for interviews Friday for the first time since returning to campus Wednesday, and senior Chris Kramer had plenty to say about the tournament.
Here's a bit from our conversation:
- "I think the biggest thing we learned was we could play in big games without two big guys. If you would say coming in that JaJuan (Johnson) and Patrick (Bade) play 18 minutes each and we beat Tennessee, the No. (10) team in the country, I might say you're crazy. But we came in and D.J. (Byrd) and Rob (Hummel) played great. Rob played the (center) position for us and just really came out and battled."
- Kramer thought the bench was big. (Check out Saturday's paper for more on that.) Kramer said it was crucial the three healthy scholarship freshmen got playing time in key moments in the Virgin Islands.
- Kramer snapped a two-game streak without a steal with two against St. Joseph's, but that wasn't why he called that "maybe the best defensive game I ever played in my career at Purdue." Here's why: "I was pressuring the ball. I was jamming for us 94 feet that game, just staying into the ball, not letting him really breathe. (I was) getting in the passing lane, knocking the ball out of bounds when they tried to pass it in the lane. Rebounding the basketball, just those kind of things that I'm able to do that really help out our team. That's what I was able to do that game, and I just have to keep on working, trying to get better."
- "It was a fun trip. We've been spoiled going to some great places. Going there was just a great trip, a great atmosphere. Obviously, about 90 degrees. You can't go wrong with that. We were able to get out to the beach, hang out there, go snorkeling, just get some sun. It was a great trip. It really helped us with our team chemistry, even though we were a pretty tight-knit group from the beginning, but with the freshmen, bringing them even closer with us, too."