Purdue seeks 12th straight trip to NCAAs

Updated: March 5, 2005, 9:39 AM ET
Associated Press

INDIANAPOLIS -- Purdue coach Kristy Curry will spend the next nine days in seclusion.

She won't read newspapers, watch television or respond to e-mails as she focuses on the only thing she can now control -- making the Boilermakers NCAA Tournament-ready.

When Purdue (16-12) lost 71-68 in the Big Ten tournament quarterfinals Friday, it marked the first time since 1996-97 that it did not win either the conference's regular-season or conference title. Now, the Boilermakers are in the unusual position of waiting to see whether they make it into the NCAA Tournament.

"I'm not going to go surfing or something like that,'' Curry said. "I don't think you ever say you're off the bubble because you have to play every game like you want to win.''

Purdue has been a regular at the NCAA's biggest party, going 11 straight years.

And although Curry won't pay attention to what people are saying this week, she recounted the Boilermakers' résumé as if she has been studying. The Boilermakers notched a 9-7 conference record in what Big Ten coaches believe is one of the nation's strongest leagues.

But Curry also talked about the strength of schedule, Purdue's improvement, a strong finish and an RPI rating in the 40s.

Curry isn't the only who thinks Purdue should be in.

"I think they're very deserving,'' Minnesota coach Pam Borton said Friday. "With the tradition they've got, what they've done in the past. Then you look at the wins they had at the end of the season, I think that's what the committee looks at. They shouldn't even be on the bubble right now.''

Still, the Boilermakers are concerned.

Katie Gearlds walked into the postgame news conference with red eyes, and senior Emily Heikes spent most of the time looking at the table.

So this week, Purdue will practice -- and hope -- it gets another chance to make it back to Indianapolis, site of this year's Final Four.

"We've got to sit around and pray to the committee that they put us in,'' Gearlds said.

Copyright 2005 by The Associated Press