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Scoping out Reliant Stadium

Purdue has played in large venues before, namely Arizona's University of Phoenix Stadium in last season's Sweet 16.

But Houston's Reliant Stadium is unique with its set-up.

In Arizona, the court was on the end of the venue and a curtain closed off half the seats.

But in Houston, likely in preparation for hosting the Final Four next season, the court is in the middle, parallel to what the football field would be for the Texans, and all seats are open. The stadium seats nearly 72,000.

That makes for a wide-open set-up.

The court is raised about 4 feet off the floor, and the multiple rows of media seating are directly lined up on the sidelines. The fans' seats are pulled right up to behind the media on the sidelines. So the first couple rows will be staring on players' feet.

But Purdue players didn't seem to mind the raised floor or the shooting backgrounds.

They practiced at 1 p.m. local time for about 50 minutes and did a lot of shooting.

"It's pretty good," Keaton Grant said. "It's a lot better than what we shot in last year at the (Arizona) Cardinals' stadium. Last year, there was a lot of open space and natural light came in, so it gave a weird effect. That was something we weren't used to. This year, we don't have to deal with that."

Guard Ryne Smith said the open venue is "kind of like you're playing outside." That's a good thing, he said.

"I like it," he said.

  • Nothing unusual to report from the practice. Rob Hummel was there, though. He sat a chair in the corner of the floor for much of the practice but appeared in good spirits, laughing with several members of Purdue's staff. He was walking without crutches and had sleeve-like wraps on both of his knees. I even saw him attempt a shot after the team had huddled up -- he air-balled it from the perimeter. Then kind of dropped his head in embarrassment. He apparently took a couple shots early in the practice and made one of two from close range.
  • Former Purdue football player and assistant coach Kevin Sumlin, now Houston's head coach, attended the practice. So did former Boilermakers Jacques Reeves, who plays for the Texans and played cornerback for Purdue.
  • I'll try to get video posted from the open practice. There's not much to it -- they don't do much -- but it'll maybe give you a feel for the arena.