Of the nine healthy players on Purdue's roster, six are underclassmen.
And that's showed early in the women's season.
Coach Sharon Versyp said this week the group has failed to follow a game plan in any of the first six games. That could be one reason Purdue takes a 3-3 record into tonight's ACC/Big Ten Challenge game at No. 14 Virginia.
It can be as simple as running the plays the staff calls -- and not freelancing on offense -- or executing the style of post defense in the game plan. If Versyp says to play in front of a player in the post instead of behind, then that needs to be done.
"They don't trust and are not invested in what we're doing yet," Versyp said. "That's being young and thinking they can make a play, and that's not the point. The first three, four games, you're trying to get a feel, see how they play, that type of stuff."
Versyp said when the team actually did execute a plan in the last 10 minutes against UC-Riverside on Nov. 27, that's when Purdue went on 17-1 run.
"We executed what we wanted, and it was amazing," she said. "We did some great things."
So why don't the underclassmen get it then?
Versyp can't figure that out -- and neither can her seniors.
Four-year starting point guard FahKara Malone said the team has had a meeting to stress the importance of following game plans. Now, it just needs to click.
"It's hard because with youth, you just do what you want to do sometimes," Malone said. "You don't realize that the game plan is going to work if you do it to a T. I think there's no better way to show them that than the fact you lose when you do it your way. That's the best teach I can give them. Just the fact that if they continue to do that and see the results we don't want to get, then hopefully that will turn on the light.
"I think three losses is enough learning for me. Hopefully, everyone has picked up on it, and we're good to go now."
- Versyp said Virginia will be one of the toughest teams Purdue plays this season, along with Notre Dame and Ohio State. The Cavaliers (5-1) have the ACC Preseason Player of the Year in Monica Wright, who is averaging 19.3 points, 6.5 rebounds and 3.8 assists per game. Two other players are averaging at least 10 points.
"They're athletes," Versyp said. "They're penetrators. They've got great size down low. They're one of the top 20 teams in the country, no question. You can tell they're just playing with a lot of confidence."
- Be sure to check out the paper Thursday for a feature on Purdue sophomore Brittany Rayburn. Rayburn started off hot this season but has struggled since, and the Boilermakers need Rayburn to step up if they want to have a successful season. She has the tools to be a special player -- and has shown them in spurts -- but Versyp doesn't think Rayburn is picking up the slack in other areas of her game since her shot has been off.