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2009 NCAA Sweet 16 Post Game Transcript: Purdue (March 26, 2009)

Thursday, March 26, 2009 , Posted by Christopher Byrne at 11:00 PM, under , , ,

Athens, GA (Mar 26, 2009) - In Sweet Sixteen action from the NCAA Men's Division I Basketball tournament on Thursday, Purdue lost to UConn 72-60. This is the transcript of the Purdue University post-game press conference as provided by the NCAA and ASAP Sports.

THE MODERATOR: We have been joined by Coach Painter and the Purdue
student athletes. I will ask Coach Painter for a few opening general
comments. We will go to questions for the student athletes and then
questions for Coach. Coach?

COACH PAINTER: First of all, I thought UConn played a great game. I
think it is very difficult to simulate what they do in a game in
practice. It is just a hard thing. I think with the strength of Jeff
Adrien, the size of Hasheem Thabeet, those guys, it is difficult. You
got to shoot the basketball at a very high percentage if you are going
to beat them, if you get outrebounded by 15.

I thought our guys gave a great effort. The ball didn't bounce our
way a couple times. We didn't make some shots. I think that's really
the difference in the game.

If you had to narrow it down from UConn's standpoint, I thought
Austrie had a great game, 17 points. 6 6 for the line, 4 6, 3 3 from
3, for a 30 percent 3 point shooter, a guy that has been struggling
from 3, that was a guy that could be a factor in this game and he was
a factor in this game.

Thabeet able to get 15 rebounds, Stanley Robinson able to get 11
rebounds. That's where we have really made improvements here in the
last month. Our guys have done a lot better job rebounding, I thought
they gave a good effort tonight. It is very difficult to keep those
guys off the glass. They have a great team and you have to tip your
hat to them.

Q. For both Robbie and JaJuan, you guys have been getting off to
excellent starts recently with maybe one exception. And today it was
it seemed like the first four or five minutes you got some good looks
but nothing was going in. In retrospect, how important was that start
in what UConn was able to do?

ROBBIE HUMMEL: We have been able to kind of get off and jump off on
a few teams in the past five games. Today we weren't able to do it.
Like you said, we had open looks but they just didn't go down.

I think our guys, just the team did a good job of battling back from
that bad start. And like you said, it was the only first four minutes
of the game. It didn't kill us. I thought we did a good job of trying
to fight back. And that's what we did.

JAJUAN JOHNSON: I agree with Robbie. We had some good looks early
on. We weren't taking bad shots, just didn't happen to fall. That's
just part of basketball.

You have to tip your hats to them, but they really played a good
game.

Q. How was the shooting background here? Was it difficult for you
guys?

JAJUAN JOHNSON: I didn't really feel it was a big factor in the
game. Both teams really had to shoot on it. It really didn't make a
difference to me personally.

ROBBIE HUMMEL: I agree with JaJuan, I don't think it was a factor in
the game. It is a great place to play and a great environment for a
game, I think.

Q. Robbie, could you just talk about what it is like to go up
against them. Matt mentioned it. They are so big in the post and
muscled. How much of a battle is that just dealing with their physical
size?

ROBBIE HUMMEL: Like Coach said, Jeff Adrien is really strong.
Hasheem Thabeet, he has got some strength too. I think it is very
important to stop dribble penetration because we get to help from
under the basket, it just kind of makes it tough to recover on those
guys to get shots and they get a lot of offensive rebounds.

Q. JaJuan, it seemed like it took you a little bit to adjust to
Thabeet. It would take anybody a while to adjust to him. Did it take
you a half to just kind of realize what you were going against?

JAJUAN JOHNSON: He is a real good player. But it just took me to
settle down, take the open shots when I was open and my teammates,
they really tried to give me the ball and things like that.

I wouldn't say it take as whole half takes a whole half to get
acclimated to play against him but it definitely takes the first few
times up and down the court.

Q. Robbie, just kind of talk about the difference for your offensive
game first half, second half. They played Robinson on you most of the
second half.

ROBBIE HUMMEL: Yeah, I got some open looks in the first half. I was
fortunate to knock them down. The guys were finding me.

I thought I had good looks in the second half, too, I just didn't
make them. Stanley Robinson did a good job, I think.

Q. Connecticut was very complimentary on your resilience and the
difficulty they had putting you away. Did you feel like this was sort
of typical of the way you guys play?

JAJUAN JOHNSON: Definitely. Our team has fought hard all year. We
have fought adversity through injuries and illness all year. So for us
to not back down, this game isn't a surprise to me. It is just how we
have been all year.

Q. Right now it doesn't feel good, but talk, if you would, just how
this season you can springboard into next year. You will have your top
six back and a good recruiting class coming in. This experience this
last three weeks, how invaluable should that be as you go into next
year?

JAJUAN JOHNSON: You learn a lot, you know, through the whole year. I
know I learned a lot personally just playing and all these things, and
we were able to win the Big Ten tourney. That was a big
accomplishment. Making it to the Sweet 16 is a big accomplishment.
Hopefully you can use those to go into next year and excel you
further.

ROBBIE HUMMEL: Like JaJuan said, I think we did accomplish a lot at
the end of the season. We did go through some tough times. But I think
this experience in the NCAA tournament will help us just because
experience, I think it really is important and we have been in the
Sweet 16 now. We will be hungry to make it farther than that next
year.

THE MODERATOR: Thank you, Robbie and JaJuan. Questions for Coach
Painter?

Q. When you go up against a center like Hasheem that takes away so
many good looks or alters them, how much pressure does that put on the
offense to score?

COACH PAINTER: I think it forces you to be patient. I like to use
the term "patiently aggressive." You have to take what they give you.
When you have angles, you have to attack them. When you don't have
angles and they are set or he is set, you have to be smart and move
the basketball.

I think at times we did some good things and we forced some things.
Like I said earlier, you can't simulate what he does. He is he is very
good at choosing when to block shots and when not to. There are a lot
of things that don't show up in his box scores that he alters.

You have to be able to make an adjustment with someone of that size
and someone with that kind of defensive instincts.

Q. What are the challenges you are on a good track in terms of
building the program. Basically you are going from when you were
playing. What are the challenges now of building a program like a
UConn or like a Duke? You got a great conference, great school, but,
yet, you still got some pretty major challenges to build that year in,
year out, get the best guy every year. What are the challenges you are
facing from here going forward?

COACH PAINTER: I think just the consistency, and getting guys to
look in the mirror and make individual improvements to make the next
step. I thought this year we made another step of winning the Big Ten
tournament, advancing to the Sweet 16.

But now you have to be greedy. And with us I think we have some very
good players, but we have to be more physical. If you walk out there
and you watch their team walk out and you watch our team walk out, we
don't have and you can throw away the height. But from a physical
standpoint, we have to improve on our bodies. That's something I said
last year. I thought we did make a step in that area, but we still got
to make improvements.

With that we have young bodies. I think that's probably the most
important thing for us and just continuing to get mentally tougher.
And walking out there and having that swagger, making sure that you
understand what you have to do and have that discipline to win games
and kind of have that inner confidence.

I think as you get more experience and you grow as a group you
acquire that. I think you see teams that are consistent nationally.
They have that. You can see it with them out there. They are going to
get it done. They are going to win that game. Our guys made
improvements in that. We got to continue to work.

Q. Is it getting that type of players?

COACH PAINTER: The product is very important. That is important. But
I think we have a very good product. The guys that were right next to
me, E'Twaun Moore, Keaton Grant, Chris Kramer, I feel they are very
good players.

At times you are going to have to develop guys. And then there are
other times when you sign guys and they are ready. A lot of times they
are rarely ever ready made type guys. If you can land a couple of
those guys along with pieces and you have been developing players,
that's the one thing Coach Keady always did throughout the years.
That's something we will continue to do. His players always got better
and they always developed.

You got to be able to fight the recruiting battle and be able to get
those guys. We think we have some guys that will be here for the long
haul, three and four year type guys and that's how you build a program
and maintain that consistency if you can't hit home runs every year.

Q. Following up on what he just asked you, last year after the
Xavier game, you talked about this same thing and your guys went out
and a lot of them got bigger and stronger. Now you have got another
frame of reference to use with your guys. This is a pretty intelligent
group. Do you think they will embrace what you just talked about?

COACH PAINTER: I think so. I think each individual guy wants to get
better. It is not our only flaw. But there is a lot of things we need
to get better at.

It is also something that's important, but I think it is a natural
maturation for young guys just understanding once you go up against
that. Like I said, you can't control 7 foot 3 but you can control your
size and carving out space and being able to go and get rebounds and
things of that nature.

Q. Are you getting closer, though, to where you want to be?

COACH PAINTER: I feel we are. Today we have to beat them a different
way. We had to make shots. And it had to be more of a skill game
today. It wasn't our best shot in terms of making 3s and then dragging
them out. They didn't have to adjust to us because we didn't make
enough shots.

If they had to adjust, then it could have been a ball game.

Q. What would you advise the next staff that has to deal with
Thabeet on Saturday?

COACH PAINTER: Just the same things. You have to be smart. You have
to be selective in how you attack him. If you have somebody like a
DeJuan Blair, you can go straight at him. If you don't, like I said,
you have to be smart, you have to be selective. Like I said, he has
good defensive instincts. He has good discipline on the defensive end,
when to go, when not to go.

But, you know, guys like that, they don't come around too often. But
if you're passive and you're hesitant, then he has won that battle.
You must go right at him when you have an angle.

Q. Did it seem like you were swimming upstream all night? And how
difficult did that make it for you?

COACH PAINTER: I think our guys did fight back from that poor start
that we had. With a team like that that's been in two games in the
NCAA tournament but really haven't been large margins, we had to get
them to play from behind. We had to get the lead and get them playing
on their heels a little bit.

You have to give them credit, they didn't allow that to happen. It
was unfortunate from our standpoint, but we had to make more plays
than we did today. But I think a lot of that had to do with UConn.

Q. Chris Kramer was saying the thing that hurts the most, he felt
like you guys didn't play anywhere near your best game. Is that the
feeling you walk away with from this game to some extent?

COACH PAINTER: I thought that we had to make a couple better
decisions when we were kind of making a comeback. We had some
opportunities to put them on their heels a little bit, once in the
first half, once in the second half. Actually a couple times in the
second half, and we weren't able to do that.

I wished we would have played better. I wish we would have shot the
ball better. But this wasn't one of UConn's better games also. If you
watch them on tape, we had some opportunities in there to make some
moves. It can work either way.

Q. You go on the recruiting trail, you get rid of this and you go on
the recruiting trail, what's your pitch when you meet this guy who can
be the one that could turn the program around? What's your pitch to
say, listen, you need to come, you need to come here?

COACH PAINTER: I think just the opportunity. I think you have to
have the right fit at Purdue like you do at each school. But you're
talking about it is just a different world in college basketball.

Maybe the guy that gets you over the hump is a one or two year guy
now to where in my eyes the guys that are going to getting us over the
hump are sitting up here. Because we feel they are program guys and we
will grow with them and get better. We won 25 last year when they were
freshmen and we won 27 and we have some other good pieces to go with
them.

But we just try to sell the opportunity of being able to come in,
play right away, play in a system where we really stress being
unselfish and playing team basketball and then getting into it on the
defensive end.

I think more or less what you are asking is trying to find that next
Glenn Robinson. That's what we are searching for at all times. But we
also want it to be the right fit. We would love to have the next Glenn
Robinson. But like I told these guys in recruiting they all committed
to us while we were in last place in the Big Ten we need you. In
recruiting you got to make sure you are getting some guys that you
need. It is a good fit, and they fit at your institution.


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