Throughout the tenures of Purdue basketball coaches Gene Keady and Matt Painter, the perception has been that their players always got better during their four seasons in West Lafayette.
But whether it is a lack of basketball skill, immaturity or desire to compete, it has become painfully obvious that the 2013-2014 Boilermakers, with the exception of now injured graduate student Sterling Carter, are not improving.
After giving up an opponent single-game record 17 made 3-pointers and 94 points in Thursday night's loss to Michigan State in Mackey Arena, it actually got worse Sunday in a 76-57 loss to vastly improved Nebraska in Lincoln.
Terran Petteway scored 29 points, and Shavon Shields added 18 points and 10 rebounds for the Cornhuskers, who have won five consecutive Big Ten games.
The Boilermakers, meanwhile, are playing like a team that has lost its way and can not wait for the season to end.
As are a significant number of Boilermaker fans frustrated with the product they are paying to watch. Purdue shot 28.8 percent from the field at Nebraska and compounded its missed shots by failing to retreat on defense, which simply is a lack of effort.
Painter has said frequently that there will be games during which the ball will not go in the basket, but a team can find a way to win on the defensive end by playing with effort and passion.
That is not happening right now, and several players seem to have lost their way. Terone Johnson's confidence is shot. Ronnie Johnson continues to force shots early in the shot clock.
Center A.J. Hammons, who has a million dollars in potential, often plays with indifference. Center Jay Simpson has shown little improvement, and sharpshooting Kendall Stephens always is in foul trouble.
Raphael Davis and Bryson Scott play with passion, but neither guard is a good perimeter shooter.
Instead of getting better, many of these guys are slumping in February and that is a terrible reflection on a program that is known for improvement.
Since E'Twaun Moore and JaJauan Johnson exhausted their athletic eligibility, Purdue is 23-27 in its 50 Big Ten games, including 5-9 this season with Michigan, Iowa and Wisconsin the next three opponents on the schedule.
These are difficult times for a college basketball program that always has taken pride in improvement, winning when opponents may have superior talent. In that respect, Purdue appears to have lost its way in what has become a most difficult time in Purdue basketball lore.