Coach Matt Painter found a pair of fifth-year seniors in opposite ends of the country, bringing in Cornell product Errick Peck and Seattle scorer Sterling Carter. Each would bring experience and guidance to the young Boilermakers.
See the words of Sterling Carter after yet another frustrating Purdue loss, now its third in a row. The senior speaks volumes to this team's problems.
Carter was part of Painter's mass substitution early in Thursday's game, where the Boilermakers' starting five was benched in the game's opening minutes. The guard explained that part of Painter's motive was to send a message for sloppy play, namely ill-advised shot selection.
The scouting report dictated Purdue attack the interior, yet the Boilermakers opened the game chucking—and missing—from beyond the arc, going against the game plan.
"We just have to buy into what the coaches want from us," Carter said after the 75-66 loss at Michigan. "Some of us do, some of us don't. We have to become a unit and do what the coaches want from us."
Carter represents what Painter wants from his Purdue program. His motor is always running and the motivation is always high. He came to Purdue looking to make the NCAA Tournament in his final year of eligibility. Many of his teammates aren't on the same page.
Entering his young, rebuilding program, Carter was supposed to be a key figure for his teammates. He's leading by example, but many aren't following.
"I go out there and play hard every game," Carter said. "I play hard I practice. There's pretty much noting more I can do. I talk to guys on and off the court. If they don't want to take my advice, then that's on them."
The Boilermakers' chemistry issues are evident—the players have spoken openly about it—yet there haven't been names leaked as weak links. Carter certainly isn't one of the players holding Purdue back.
After the latest loss, Carter was quick to diagnose Purdue's problems during this three-game skid.
"We just got complacent," he said. "Everybody started doing their own thing and getting away from what the coaches want us to do. Now, we're trying to figure out how to get back to that and we're struggling."
Amid Purdue's struggles, Carter is a sympathetic figure. This is his one chance to play in the Big Ten, putting on the uniform of a prestigious program. His hopes were surely high as he arrived in West Lafayette, looking for his chance to be in the Big Dance.
Things just haven't worked out. Tough break for a tough Boilermaker.