Boilers make transition to Mile High atmosphere

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The Purdue basketball team practices in Denver in advance of its NCAA Tournament opener against Little Rock (WXIN, March 16, 2016)

DENVER, Colo. (March 16, 2016) – They call it the Mile High City for a reason.

When Purdue meets Little Rock Thursday afternoon inside the Pepsi Center, players on both teams will be dealing with thinner air with approximately 17% less oxygen than air at sea level.

Less oxygen in the air means it’s harder for athletes to replenish the oxygen in their bloodstreams during intense workouts, such as a basketball game for instance.

“It is something you have to deal with,” explained sophomore center Isaac Haas. “Some of us when we first got here got on the treadmill and were able to get that burn in our lungs. Then when practice came, it really wasn’t that bad.”

Purdue head coach Matt Painter mentioned the Denver altitude after Sunday’s loss to Michigan State in the Big Ten Tournament championship game. He stressed the importance of the first few workouts in the new environment, so players get used to the change.

“We’ve been working out the past couple days just trying to get past it,” added senior center A.J. Hammons. “(We’re) hydrating a lot and getting a lot of rest, so it shouldn’t be a factor.”

The city of Denver provides a webpage, outlining steps visitors can take to make sure they adjust properly to the new environment without getting altitude sickness. But if you ask some Purdue players, they don’t notice any effects at all.

“Maybe I’m just a different breed,” laughed senior guard Rapheal Davis. “I kinda think it’s all in your head.

“If you’re in shape, you’re in shape, you know what I mean?”

Davis and the Boilers will test their strength in altitude Thursday afternoon against Little Rock in the first round of the NCAA Tournament. Tip-off is scheduled for approximately 4:30 p.m. eastern time.