Here’s what Purdue coach Matt Painter said at the Big Ten Basketball Media Days
INDIANAPOLIS – The Big Ten men’s and women’s basketball coaches have gathered at Gainbridge Fieldhouse for the 2021 conference Basketball Media Days. Purdue coach Matt Painter stepped onto the podium on Friday to answer questions.
Here is the full transcript:
PAINTER MATT: Thank you. Like everyone who’s probably been here, excited about our season, excited about our guys. I thought we had a great summer, even though we weren’t always together in the summer. If three guys were playing for the U-19s, they gained valuable experience.
To have a good group of freshmen coming into our program who have really worked hard and done some really good things in their preparation for the season.
We are returning our top I think seven or eight scorers. We have some experience. Obviously what you want is experience, success with guys really pulling the rope all in the same direction. There is also an element of selfishness in a lot of the things you do. Each of our guys wants to play. They want to be a big part of us by playing. We’re going to have to make sacrifices within our team, like any successful team.
I think the keys don’t come from talent, the keys come from producing that talent and the sacrifices you have to make to be a part of a team. It’s hard to do. It is a difficult thing to do.
We currently have a group of guys who work really hard, spend a lot of time, just trying to get better every day. I think what happens sometimes when you’re picked to be one of the best teams, you know, your handling of that ends up being really crucial in terms of your success.
We don’t want to party in October or November. We want to be able to be in the position that they say we should come in late February and March, hopefully for a Big Ten Championship and having a good number next to our name.
We also know that we have to win this. You have to earn this every day and do a lot of little things for your program to be successful.
Q. What do you think your group took away from last year’s loss in the NCAA? How did it work for the future?
MATT PAINTER: That’s a good question because you see a lot of favorite teams in a game getting knocked out in the NCAA tournament over the years. Then, this team splits up by graduation or transfer, it is no longer the same team the following year.
We have new faces, but much more familiar faces on our team. That’s what we really talked about, learning from it and being better, even in a better position in next year’s promising NCAA tournament.
We’ll see. I think the answer to your question really comes from our actions for the future. I use Virginia as an example, when they were knocked out in the first round a few years ago and then turned around and won a national championship. It was a devastating loss for them, but obviously they used it as motivation. Obviously, they were the national champions the following year.
We need to be able to use that as motivation. The thing that hurts you as a coach – the coach from North Texas is a really good coach, friend of mine. We talked about how good they were, how tough they were. It was not something we took lightly. We knew North Texas was very, very good.
But that’s part of March Madness. We’ve really tried to amplify some of the things we’ve struggled with in this game, and hopefully that can make us a better team and a better program.
Q. Your first year class, how is it going? Trey Kaufman injured his hand. How is he ?
PAINTER MATT: All three are excellent. They have a lot of similarities in their makeup. Very grounded, works hard, spends a lot of time trying to improve, preparing for the season.
Brian Waddell, from here in Indianapolis, has been fabulous. The fact that he hasn’t had any other major offers amazes me to be frank with you. But just a winner, a guy who won two state championships, very fluid, understands the game.
Trey Kaufman has also won two state championships. Hand injured. It delayed him a bit as he missed the first month of training of the summer. But can really score basketball, has a good idea of what’s going on. I’m just trying to learn from a defensive perspective and then all of our ins and outs offensively in the stuff we’re running.
Caleb Furst was part of the U-19 squad and really put himself in a great position, had the chance to play the four and five in the U-19, which he will play for us. But very well. Very mobile, can really move. Really got to where he does his free throws, can shoot open threes, good athlete, can move, do a lot of different things.
These three guys have been really good.
Q. You mentioned in your opening statement that you have so much depth and talent, people buy into it. How eager are you to have that kind of versatility to match everyone? How much do you expect to see Trevion and Zach Edey perform together?
MATT PAINTER: I think our clashes, with our team, will be really determined more defensively than probably offensively. I think we can use this size together in snippets right now. It just depends on how proficient your four are, or whether we think we can return this game offensively where we might have a hard time offensively, but not as much as you’re going to have on the other end.
And what you can live with. I think sometimes, as a coach, that’s what it really means. Having that kind of depth, being able to play in different ways can really help.
What has worked for you, often coaches like to stick with that. Sometimes what worked for you now won’t work against the particular team you get. That piece there, as a coach you expect it to come to you organically, you’re a little upset when it doesn’t. You have to find out for yourself. You make it difficult.
It is a very good problem to have. I would like to have the exact answer for you. I think it’s gonna really depend on these other guys.
The problem with college basketball, people say it’s really hard to play big, most of the big guys aren’t that good. That is why. It’s just like that. Especially their backups. So for us, if we can play Trevion and Zach together, but Mason Gillis is a good player, Trey Kaufman is a good player, Caleb Furst is a good player. If I go the other way, they’re good players.
Trevion needs to be able to function defensively because a four is really the guy for that answer. If he can do that, then he’s going to put some links in there. Now that doesn’t mean Trevion is more in the perimeter. We will post these four men.
I think we are seeing more area. Our league is not really a zone league, although people play it 10-20% of the time. That’s good for us because Trevion is good at the top post. Zach is causing a lot of trouble. It causes us a lot of problems in practice. I don’t really have a good answer to deal with them. He got better. He’s very, very good.
Q. You tried to do the two big things. What makes Trevion better prepared for this now than he was two years ago?
PAINTER MATT: I don’t know if he is. He’s a very good player. He’s a better player than he was two years ago. He has more knowledge of the game. He’s such a good offensive rebounder, such a good passer. These are its two extremes at a high level.
You double him, he’ll make you pay. You give him the ball at the high post, you can run, you can do a lot of different things because he can see the ground so well.
He was the fourth-best offensive rebounder last year in college basketball as a five. Do the pros outweigh the cons? This is the real question for the future. And we have other players, other guys are also good players.
I think it can happen. I think there are going to be games that won’t happen at all. I think there are going to be games, it happens in extracts. You have to know how to take care of basketball.
You have two of the biggest guys on the court, they are anchored by the edge, a turnaround occurs, now you have to sprint to the other end. They’re faster and run 80 feet, you run 90 feet, I think we can all figure out how that ends. You can’t have a lot of it.
These pick-sixes in basketball are not the same as football. Football does not have the 70 shots in a game for each team. They just don’t understand this part. This is amplified in the gift / take away to a football game. In basketball, if you do that, you’re going to give people run-outs.
When playing against good teams you have to be able to steal points, get on glass and steal points, make your defense create an attack, make the transition. If you’re just stuck in the half court playing against a really good team, it’s tough. It’s really difficult.
You want to be the team that flips things where you steal points. If they steal points from you, now you’re playing, in theory, big; but it is counterproductive. It doesn’t make much sense, regardless of the narrative.
If you’ve got functional people sitting on your bench who can’t play, you’re just the waist, you’re not functional with it, the only time it’s really beneficial is when a hit comes up. We have to have the advantage when the shots go up. We must have an advantage of offensive efficiency. We need to have an effective defensive advantage. If you take care of the basketball, make good decisions, you will put your defense in place to stay out of the transition.
Hope my Jerry Maguire mission statement makes sense.
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