Newspaper article Evansville Courier & Press (2007-Current)

Purdue Understands How It Needs to Play to Get Wins

Newspaper article Evansville Courier & Press (2007-Current)

Purdue Understands How It Needs to Play to Get Wins

Article excerpt

Matt Painter understands that his Purdue University basketball team won't scare many opponents, especially first-round NCAA tournament foe Saint Mary's (Calif.). But after the Boilermakers, in what was expected to be a bit of a down year after the graduations of NBA draft picks JaJuan Johnson and E'Twaun Moore, notched their sixth consecutive 20-win season, Painter also is con- fident of this: He is fielding a dangerous team.

"We're not going to outsize you and we're not going to come with this unbelievable athleticism," Painter said at last week's Big Ten Conference tournament. "But we are pretty skilled and we do have some guys that can shoot the basketball and we can spread you out.

"We can be smart, we can take care of the ball, we can make shots, and that's what we're going to have to do. And if we can't do that, then we're probably going to get beat."

Much of the season, that's pretty much how it worked for Purdue.

The Boilermakers (21-12) never won more than four in a row. But they never lost more than two in a row, despite playing in a conference considered the most rugged in the nation this season. They were pretty good at home (13-4) and OK on the road (5-5) and on neutral courts (3-3).

Only two players average in double figures, senior forward Robbie Hummel (16.8) and senior guard Lewis Jackson (10.5). But junior guard D.J. Byrd (8.5) and senior guard Ryne Smith (8.5) both can light it up from 3-point range (averaging better than 42 percent accuracy), and sophomore guard Terone Johnson (8.4) and freshman guard Anthony Johnson (5.0) have the ability to get to the rim.

What Purdue doesn't have is a post presence (which explains why it averages half-a-rebound less than all opponents) and, since Feb. 17, athletic junior guard Kelsey Barlow (8.3 points, 3.7 rebounds), dismissed after a late-night ruckus at a West Lafayette bar that also resulted in a one-game suspension for Byrd.

"As a coach, you try to keep your focus on what you have instead of what you don't have," said Painter. …

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