HUTTON: Sandi Marcius speaks out about his exit from Purdue
By Mike Hutton 613-0141 or email@example.com July 3, 2013 7:02PM
Updated: August 5, 2013 6:40PM
MERRILLVILLE — Sandi Marcius, wearing a pair of black and gold shorts and black and gold shoes at a summer league game at the Fieldhouse, wants to put the Purdue experience behind him.
Not because he doesn’t miss it, not because he doesn’t love the place, not because he regrets going there, which he doesn’t at all. He’ll get his degree from Purdue and he’ll always be a Boilermaker in his heart — just not this season, when he’s lacing it up for DePaul.
Mostly, because it’s pretty clear that the soft-spoken LaLumiere graduate clearly isn’t comfortable being the center of attention.
And that’s exactly where Marcius, a seldom-used-center until late in the season, found himself when he decided he wanted to leave Purdue after four seasons and finish his playing career. Right smack in the middle of a smoldering controversy: Purdue coach Matt Painter wanted him back, the fans wanted him back and even Purdue athletic director Morgan Burke, at Painter’s request, made several attempts to get Marcius to change his mind. (How often does a college AD come down from his marble encrusted perch to try to talk a kid into staying?)
Marcius turned the fans on with his spirited play and his hustle. He sparked a win against Wisconsin, finishing with 10 points, five rebounds and three steals. He had a career-high 13 points and five rebounds against Michigan. He displaced A.J. Hammons, an NBA prospect, as the starter for five games.
Yet it wasn’t enough for Marcius to return. Facts are facts, and the reality of the situation was that Marcius averaged 9.3 minutes per game last season and he was a DNP (did not play) five times.
And, despite assurances from Painter that his playing time would increase if he stayed, it was just was hard to see how committed Painter could be to him with Hammons locked in as the No. 1 guy.
So, after agonizing about whether to stay or go, Marcius decided he wanted to leave.
It was a decision that infuriated Painter because, naturally in his mind, the Boilermakers were ready to reap the fruits of their labor with Marcius. They had red-shirted him and nursed him through a broken foot. They saw him as a project, knowing that big men sometimes take longer to develop. They wanted him back badly. Marcius would’ve preferred to exit via the side door, without any hoopla or fanfare. He wanted to slip out unnoticed.
But he had turned into something valuable for the Boilermakers and that wasn’t possible anymore. Painter said he loved him but he also said he quit the team and that the school wouldn’t pay for his tuition for his last two classes because he quit. He refused to let him go to the season-ending banquet and his name was removed from the 2012-2013 roster.
It wasn’t necessarily an amiable ending but Marcius doesn’t want to remember all that.
“It was a real hard decision,” he said. “It was like two months of back and forth and back and forth and weighing all the options involved. It was really hard. If I was to say it was easy to leave, it would be a lie. There were a lot of emotions involved and I talked to a lot of people for a long time. The fans were special. That’s the biggest thing I’m going to miss — the people and the relationships I established. At the end, it came down to me looking for more minutes and a better place for me that would help me continue playing after college.”
Marcius said he’s not bitter about the way it was handled, including having to pay for his last two classes — something that didn’t happen when John Hart left the team for IUPUI. Purdue maintained that his departure was mutual and worked out in advance.
“I found my way,” he said. “I’m not going to do anything about it (Purdue not paying). They treated me well for four years. Whatever they did was their decision.”
Marcius’ decision was to transfer to DePaul, where he feels like the wide-open, up-and-down style the Blue Demons play is more advantageous to his skill set. The Blue Demons recruited him the hardest, along with Nevada.
“I think I’m going to be able to play and help this team get to college,” he said. “I chose DePaul because I think it will help me the most for my ability to play after college.”
The one big question for Marcius is his stamina. The most minutes he ever played at Purdue was 21. He is aware of the problem and he’s working on it.
“I’m doing a lot of conditioning,” he said. “That’s why I’m playing in open gym a lot. Summer is crucial for me. I know I’ve never played more than 21 minutes. It’s a big unknown. I know I have some questions to answer myself. I believe I can answer them.”