Ryan Walters inspired by hoop team's Final Four run: 'If basketball can do it, why can't we do it?'

On3 imageby:Tom Dienhart04/02/24


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Like everyone else who is a Purdue fan, Ryan Walters has been tracking the course of Matt Painter’s basketball team through March Madness. Next stop: The Final Four in Phoenix, where Walters hopes to be on Saturday when the Boilermakers take on N.C. State in the national semifinals.

The march to college basketball’s holy grail is serving as inspiration to Walters as he puts his second Boilermaker squad through the paces of spring practice. Purdue wrapped up workout No. 7 on Tuesday as it looks to improve on last year’s 4-8 season.

“I think the momentum is awesome (for the athletic department),” said Walters of the Boilermakers’ run to the Final Four. “It just shows you what kind of potential Purdue has from an athletic standpoint.

“From our perspective, if basketball can do it, why can’t we do it?”

Purdue has enjoyed sprites of success over the years in football. Most recently, the program won the Big Ten West in 2022 and played in the league title game. And, in the 2000 season, Drew Brees led the program to the Big Ten title and a Rose Bowl berth, part of a run of 10 bowls in 12 seasons under Joe Tiller from 1997-2008.

“Obviously, this is a tight-knit community in and of itself,” said Walters. “And Purdue is (a place) of no egos and everybody being on the same page. And it is a brotherhood. It’s been awesome to see Painter and those guys go to work the way they’ve gone to work.”

Walters is putting in the work now, conducting the first scrimmage of the spring last Friday.

“We just went live toward the end of practice,” said Walters. “Takeaways are these guys love playing football. I got no question about toughness or physicality or effort. It was good to see so many young guys make some plays.

“Still got a lot of technique and consistency to improve, but I like where we are halfway through spring ball.”

Positives and concerns to those point?

“Positives have been, we haven’t had a practice where there’s been a big letdown from an energy and enthusiasm standpoint,” said Walters. “Guys have consistently improved.

“Some concerns are, we got some vet guys that are making day one mistakes on routine plays and we gotta be able to make routine plays. The other concern, because this team is tough as well as physical and because guys are competing for spots, sometimes we got to understand that we’re practicing against each other and learn how to take care of each other.”

Purdue will be back on the field on Thursday and Friday this week. Then, like the rest of the West Lafayette community, Walters and Co., will turn their attention to basketball on Saturday and be inspired that all things are achievable at Purdue, which is making its first Final Four trip since 1980 … six years before Walters was born.

“Just that it’s possible and it’s possible to do it at Purdue,” said Walters of his takeaway from the basketball team’s push to the big stage. “If you play the right way, you work the right way and then have no egos and are team-first, you can accomplish everything you want to accomplish right here.”

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