No. 20 Purdue another Big Ten test for Chicago State (Nov 12, 2017)

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. — Two years ago, Chicago State coach Tracy Dildy wondered if he would have a university at which to work, let alone a basketball program.

Chicago State opened its season on Friday night with a 92-65 loss at Iowa and plays at No. 20 Purdue on Sunday. The Boilermakers opened their season Friday with a 105-74 victory against SIU-Edwardsville.

Dildy, who was 6-26 last season, said the importance of opening the season with consecutive games at Big Ten opponents is important, only to an extent.

“I don’t think it will give us a true indication of where we are at,” Dildy said. “You are talking about two of the best teams on our schedule. We aren’t going to see two teams like this. I don’t want to put too much into it if things don’t go too well.

“We have a whole season, and we talk about just Iowa and Purdue, nobody in our conference looks like that. We don’t want to get too discouraged. We want to keep our mind on the big picture, which is to go to the postseason. Our guys have been working their tails off.”

Dildy is just happy to be coaching a Chicago State team.

“The improvement is on the security factor,” Dildy said.

“Before last year, they were talking about closing the university. That affected us big time in recruiting — bringing in the players that could help us. Now that we have security, we are able to bring in a more talented student-athlete. We have better players.”

Guard Fred Sims Jr. is Chicago State’s best player.

Dildy is a big fan of this Purdue team. He said the Boilermakers might be his favorite Big Ten team. He especially likes senior guard Dakota Mathias, who had a team-best 18 points on Friday.

“I think they may be better than last year’s Big Ten championship team,” Dildy said. “They got really good when center Isaac Haas decided to come back. I have also said that Mathias is the best shooter in the country. With Vince and Carsen Edwards, that is a Final Four team. They have everything you need, including experience, toughness, size and good guard play.”

Purdue coach Matt Painter did not like the fact the Boilermakers were outrebounded 40-39 in the opener but liked just about everything else, especially the play of freshman point guard Nojel Eastern.

“I thought Nojel Eastern was great,” Painter said.

“For it being his first real college game, he got eight assists. I thought our dribble penetration before he subbed in was kind of lackluster. The ball was getting in the paint too much. From a concentration standpoint, Nojel was trying to put pressure on the basketball but also protect it.”

Painter said the rebounding will get better.

“I thought SIUE did a great job attacking the offensive glass and pursuing the basketball,” Painter said. “I didn’t think we did a very good job of boxing out or going to get it. It took a little time to adjust to that.”

Purdue also got 16 points each from Haas and Carsen Edwards on Friday.