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Purdue University

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    Purdue basketball fans’ stress levels have been eased somewhat after 7-foot center A.J. Hammons announced Wednesday that he will return for his junior season after considering entering the NBA draft.
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    Fifth-year senior safety Landon Feichter proved once again Saturday why second-year Purdue football coach Darrell Hazell refers to the Bishop Dwenger graduate as the Boilermakers’ defensive quarterback.Smart. Heady.
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    The next step in Darrell Hazell’s attempt to bring Purdue football back into a competitive position will conclude at 1 p.m. today with the annual Gold and Black spring game in Ross-Ade Stadium.
Big Ten

Tough year for Purdue?

– Purdue’s Darrell Hazell has a struggle ahead of him as a first-year coach at a Big Ten program.

Illinois coach Tim Beckman knows it.

As a former coach at Toledo, Beckman made the jump from the Mid-American Conference to the Big Ten last season. Other current Big Ten coaches, including Brady Hoke of Michigan and Urban Meyer of Ohio State, have made stops in the MAC, as well.

Beckman’s first attempt as a Big Ten head coach didn’t go well. His team finished 2-10 and winless in the Big Ten.

It wasn’t the jump to a premier conference that caused that slump, though. They were typical first-season struggles, he said.

“Any first year – I don’t care if you’re going from being a defensive coordinator to being a head coach, Oklahoma State to the Mid-American – there’s always things that you’ve got to get better at doing,” said Beckman, who was with the Cowboys before heading to Toledo as a head coach. “Look what Urban’s done. Look what Brady Hoke’s done. Darrell Hazell’s part of that.”

That doesn’t mean Hazell is getting any help from former MAC coaches as he tries to make the transition. He’ll have to learn the Big Ten as he goes – although like Beckman, he had a breadth of experience in the conference as an assistant before taking over at Purdue.

Regardless of where a coach goes or what conference he’s in, Beckman said, there will be growing pains during that first season.

“We didn’t even have a great first year at Toledo,” Beckman said. “We did all right. We won five games. But it wasn’t what we wanted to win.”

Witty Wilson

Indiana coach Kevin Wilson’s answers Thursday during Big Ten Media Day spread far and wide – on subjects such as Claritin and sound systems.

Wilson enjoyed plenty of jokes with media members, and he didn’t keep it all football, either.

The third-year IU coach has learned a lighthearted approach to media days, and plenty of people around his table appreciated it.

Even if the answer turned to how best to play music at practices instead of personnel.

“Everybody’s got the golf cart – Michigan, you know what they used to do?” he said with a smile and a horse voice. “They had the old golf cart that was like ‘Animal House’ – had a big speaker thing on the front of it. A guy named Dusty was riding the cart.”