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Purdue University

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Purdue men, women throw opening party

– Recording artist Dirk Hunter walked to a stool near center court at Mackey Arena, wearing a cowboy hat and shades.

He then started playing some tunes on his guitar, including a few notes of “Party in the USA” by Miley Cyrus.

When he finished, Hunter took off the hat and wig and revealed himself as Purdue guard/forward D.J. Byrd.

And with that, the post-Robbie Hummel era got under way.

Fans were introduced to this year’s men’s and women’s basketball teams Friday at Purdue’s “Tip-Off Before the Kickoff” event.

“I enjoyed it a lot. It previews the season. We’re just excited to get back on the court,” guard Anthony Johnson said.

The Boilermakers had shooting and dunk contests. Players from both teams also did a choreographed dance.

“Hopefully we can play better than we dance,” men’s coach Matt Painter joked.

A team of three featuring Hayden Hamby, Byrd and a student won the shooting contest. Hamby made the game-winning shot from halfcourt.

Jacob Lawson won the men’s dunk contest.

Purdue will have its first official men’s practice today.

The women’s team has been practicing since Oct. 1. Purdue received a big lift in the offseason when the NCAA granted forward Drey Mingo a sixth year of eligibility.

Mingo missed last season after suffering an ACL tear in her right knee Oct. 29 in a scrimmage at Indiana State.

“We’re looking really good,” said senior forward Sam Ostarello, who won the women’s dunk contest. “Just very cohesive. We’re working well together. There’s not a whole lot missing right now. We’re bringing a lot to the table this year.”

The men’s team lost three of its top four scorers from a year ago in Hummel, point guard Lewis Jackson and guard Ryne Smith.

Guard Terone Johnson is the top returning scorer at 9.2 points per game. Byrd averaged 8.9 points per game.

Purdue has a prized recruiting class, which includes guard Rapheal Davis, who is from Fort Wayne.

“We’ve had workouts, we’ve had conditioning, we went to Italy. We’ve had some experience, but (today) is when it starts,” Byrd said.

“The fun was (Friday). (Today) is when the seriousness starts. We’ve got to get down to working hard and focusing on the things we need to do and be a disciplined team, because that is how we’re going to win this year.”

lpope@jg.net

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