Boiler Up: WIU gears up for CBI opener at Purdue - WGEM.com: Quincy News, Weather, Sports, and Radio

Boiler Up: WIU gears up for CBI opener at Purdue

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Western Illinois is eyeing a battle with Purdue in Wednesday's opening round of the College Basketball Invitational. Western Illinois is eyeing a battle with Purdue in Wednesday's opening round of the College Basketball Invitational.

MACOMB, Ill. (WGEM) -- It may not be the NCAA Tournament but Western Illinois continues to take steps forward as a program.

For the second consecutive year the Leathernecks are in the postseason, and for the second straight season Jim Molinari's group is trying to reach another milestone, it's first win in the College Basketball Invitational.

"To get in the postseason really is special," Molinari told WGEM Sports.

"Obviously we're playing as good a team as we would have played in the NIT, and even maybe as good of a team as we would have played in the NCAA Tournament."
 
Senior forward Jack Houpt says all things considered Wednesday's trip to Purdue is a great opportunity.

"The conference tournament didn't turn out as we wanted, especially with the injuries, but we can't do anything about that now," Houpt added.

"We've just got to keep looking forward and we have a great opportunity playing in the CBI against Purdue."

There won't be much time for the Leathernecks to prepare for it's upcoming trip to West Lafayette, Indiana. But the blueprint doesn't change. 

"We're going to have to be aggressive, make some shots and play our defense, because they'll score better at home," Molinari expressed.

"Defensively you've got to rebound with them. Purdue is very physical."

"It's going to be a tough game. They have a very talented team," junior forward Adam Link said.

"You've got to prepare for them just like you prepare for anybody else, work hard and see what we can do."

No matter the outcome in Wednesday's matchup, there is nothing that can deny the progress happening across the board at Western Hall.

"It's amazing, being in this program two years ago, it's so much more than I ever would have thought," Houpt explained.
 
Molinari says another chance to play in March is another step in the right direction.

"I came here not to build a season but to build a program," added Molinari.

"There's been some rough roads over the five years, but I think the good Lord has really blessed our trying to do it the right way, putting the right people here. I think we've got a program now."
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