OSIPOFF: Purdue’s Lowe excited to start coaching career
By Michael Osipoff 713-2485 or firstname.lastname@example.org October 16, 2013 11:30PM
Updated: November 18, 2013 7:59AM
As a kid, Kenneth Lowe was taught there was no such thing as a dumb question.
With significant success, he has applied that approach throughout his life and career, from West Side to Purdue to playing professionally abroad, and back to the Boilermakers.
Perhaps especially as he has returned to Purdue, where Lowe was introduced as assistant video coordinator exactly six weeks ago. He has been working long hours — and relishing most every minute, absorbing as much as he can.
“There’s no pride or shame in my game,” Lowe said with a laugh. “I have a lot to learn, and I understand that.
“The adjustment period is going to be long for me, but it’s going really well. The coaches have been great, and (video coordinator) Nick Terruso has been awesome.”
The job description? Basically, if it involves video/film/tape, Lowe is on it. Breaking down opponents, and Purdue’s practices. Scouting, editing, recording games from satellite TV. He took it upon himself to watch every Boilermakers game from last season to get a sense of the personnel and how 2012-13 unfolded.
If all goes according to plan for Lowe — and there’s little reason to think it won’t, given his talent and work ethic, toughness and charisma — it will be just the beginning of a new chapter for him. It will be a foot in the door toward coaching, possibly a step toward eventually running his own college program.
Each of the last four summers, Lowe, who turned 33 on Oct. 6, spoke with coaches all around the country about various possibilities, any potential job openings (during that time frame, at least twice, he was at least considered for an assistant position at Purdue). His conversations with Matt Painter extend even farther back.
“He knows my future goals, my ultimate goal, and this benefits both of us — the program and myself,” Lowe said. “This is a great opportunity for me. This experience that I’m getting is very valuable.”
Lowe officially announced his retirement as a player on the Monday before the Thursday the news became public that he had joined Purdue’s staff. But even though he had been keeping an eye on his post-playing prospects, it was not an easy decision for him.
“Playing basketball, working on the strengths and weaknesses in my game, it’s something I’ve built my whole life around,” Lowe said. “To hang it up on my terms actually was very tough; it would’ve been easier if I was hurt or couldn’t play for some other reason. My plan going into the summer was to work out, get healthy, get stronger for another season. But I knew this is what I wanted to do. How could I turn down an opportunity like this?”
He couldn’t, ending his playing days with few, if any, regrets. The 6-foot-3 guard was an Indiana All-Star for West Side as a senior in 1999, before playing at Purdue from ’99 to 2004 (including a medical redshirt season). The three-year starter was a two-time captain for the Boilermakers, a team MVP, a two-time All-Big Ten pick (second team in 2004, third team in ’03), and a two-time Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year (2003, ’04); he averaged 10.0 points. He was on Gene Keady’s last NCAA Tournament team, in 2003, before the Boilermakers’ stretch of tournament participation under Painter.
Lowe played his final five pro seasons in Finland, where he made history and attained near hero status. In 2010 with Pyrintö Tampere, he won a title in the Korisliiga, averaging 18.8 points as a key player in the franchise’s first championship in what was the 43rd season of Finland’s top league. Lowe — who had previously played in Turkey, Germany, Hungary and Venezuela — then helped the team win a second straight title.
He did express disappointment about Pyrintö losing in the first round of the playoffs last season — his season was interrupted by December knee surgery, one of a half-dozen operations he has undergone — the team’s earliest exit during his five-year tenure. He was gearing up for a return to Finland to attempt to make another run, before he returned to Purdue, less than a month after fellow Boilermakers graduate and region product Brandon Brantley, an East Chicago native and Andrean alumnus, was hired as an assistant coach.
“It’s been great to come back to a familiar environment,” Lowe said. “Everybody’s embraced me with open arms — the women’s basketball coaches, volleyball coaches, football coaches. That type of love and respect makes me feel good.
“It’s definitely different for me, going from being on the court four or five hours a day to watching so much basketball. But it’s great to be able to learn from the unbelievable staff that we have. It’s demanding and stressful, but if you love basketball, it’s enjoyable. I’m blessed to be in this situation.”