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Three's the charm

Purdue wasn’t picked to finish in the top three in the Big Ten in women’s basketball by league coaches, but media members plugged the Boilermakers into a third-place tie in the preseason polls that were revealed at the league media day Thursday.

Junior Brittany Rayburn would just like the team to have fun this season.

“We know that it’s going to be a different year than last year,” Rayburn said, referencing the program’s 15-17 season in 2009-10. “We just have the confidence we need going into every game that we can pull it out. I think last year we played not to lose rather than to win. I think this year, we’re going to be able to play to win and have fun. I think if we play to the best of our abilities, the winning will come.”

* When I was sitting with coach Sharon Versyp at her table in a ballroom in the Crowne Plaza hotel, she got a text message and checked it immediately.

It was from sophomore Ashley Wilson, who had a second surgery on her lower right leg in September and has been limited in practice. Wilson started six games last season.

Wilson reported to her coach that the doctor cleared her for half-court work. Wilson still can’t play five-on-five, the doctor said. But it’s certainly progress.

* Rayburn has had her right wrist taped in the last couple weeks of practice, and I asked her about it Thursday. “It’s precautionary right now,” she said. “We don’t really know what’s going on. But it’s not affecting much. I’m not really thinking about anything. Shot feels good. Body feels good.”

Rayburn said she’s excited to be in shape “finally” going into a season. She’s coming off her first full offseason at Purdue without having any surgery.

“Being able to be in shape before you get to the season is great and not have to pick up during the season,” said Rayburn, who averaged 14.6 points per game last season.

* Expect to see the Boilermakers utilize full-court pressure defense this season. That was tough last year with limited bodies because of injuries – “Your eight people are going to die if you’re going to be running the whole time,” Rayburn joked.

But this season, Purdue has a stable of athletes and depth to do it.

“Just knowing we have the bodies to be able to do that and know that I can give four hard minutes and somebody is going to come in and give four hard minutes, that makes it a nightmare for the opposing teams,” transfer forward Drey Mingo said.

* More from Rayburn and Mingo in the coming days, including their answers to the random questions in Boiler Bits.

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