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NCAA 2nd Round Post Game Transcript: Purdue (March 21, 2009)

Sunday, March 22, 2009 , Posted by Christopher Byrne at 12:50 AM, under , , ,

Athens, GA (Mar 22, 2009) - In 2nd round action from the NCAA Men's Division I Basketball tournament on Saturday, Purdue defeated Washington 76-74. This is the transcript of the Purdue post-game press conference as provided by the NCAA and ASAP Sports.

Q. E'Twaun, two part question for you. First of all, defensively you
came out and just smothered them the first half and were able to get
the big lead. Talk about that. And then at the end you missed a couple
of shots but you were the man that had to shoot the free throws. Could
you talk about each of those elements?

E'TWAUN MOORE: Our team did a great job today coming out to play
today from the jump. We knew they were a great team. We knew we had to
come out with a lot of energy. And we came out with the victory. At
the end of the game I missed a couple of shots, but luckily JaJuan got
some good buckets and Keaton got some rebounds. They just held us
together and kept up the game by hitting free throws.

Q. JaJuan, can you talk about holding off these guys? You had a big
lead and then they kept creeping back, but you guys never really caved
in. Can you talk about that?

JAJUAN JOHNSON: Definitely. We knew they were a good team, so
obviously they're going to make some runs. I think our team did a good
job of staying together when they started making their run, just
staying together as a team and just being positive and we came out
with the win.

Q. How does it feel? You're going to the Sweet 16.

KEATON GRANT: It feels great. Finally getting over that hump. I've
been in the same position two years in a row, and finally going to the
Sweet 16 is a great feeling.

E'TWAUN MOORE: It's just a great feeling. All that hard work finally
starting to pay off. We won the Big Ten tournament championship, going
to Sweet 16. We just worked so hard during the early year, doing
conditioning and practice, and things like that. We definitely want to
go as far as we can so all the hard work can pay off.

Q. They had the ball and they were down two, had a chance to tie,
about a minute to go, something like that. I think you got two blocked
shots in a row, one on Thomas, and then they got the rebound I think
you got a piece of Pondexter's shot. Can you talk about that sequence?


JAJUAN JOHNSON: After Thomas I blocked the first shot from Thomas,
the shot clock was getting low, I just shot and made the play on the
ball and I just won.

Q. Keaton, you guys have been at your best when the opponent scores
less than 65 points. You've gotten a little higher scoring game today,
but still it goes back to that defense. Could you sense your defensive
pressure in the first half kind of caught them off guard a little bit?


KEATON GRANT: Oh, yeah, definitely. I think that's one thing they
hadn't seen too much of all year. That's what most teams do with us,
we come up and jam each and every play, trying to stop people from
transition, and we're so physical on the cuts and stuff like that, I
think it just really startled them. And I think they got used to it in
the second half and that's what made them have a little run in the
second half.

Q. JaJuan, can you talk about playing a team that kind of likes to
play it like you do. It looked like they were pretty serious about
defense, and there's a lot of talk about west coast teams not digging
in like that. But just seemed like it was a Big Ten kind of a style.
Do you guys like that?

JAJUAN JOHNSON: Definitely. They're not really the typical west
coast team. They're a real physical, tough team. They pride themselves
on rebounding and defending, especially their guards. Really try to
pressure our guards and things like that. So it did kind of remind me
a little bit of a Big Ten game.

Q. Keaton, talk about what this means going into the Sweet 16 in
terms of all the struggles, the injuries, maybe some early season
expectations, and I think you lost three out of four at the end of the
regular season, what does this mean in light of that?

KEATON GRANT: It just means that we have tough character, that we're
able to bounce back, we're not going to hang our heads because we
lost, just fighting and keep coming. But we can't be satisfied. We
have to get focused, get ready for the next game.

Q. Keaton and E'Twaun, comment on JaJuan's game. He's a lot lankier
than Jon Brockman, a little taller, interesting battle. I wondered on
your comments on that battle.

E'TWAUN MOORE: JaJuan did a great job for us in the paint today,
blocking shots, rebounding, playing good defense on Jon Brockman. And
man, he's just a great guy. Glad to have him as a teammate because he
made the game a lot easier for us. If we can beat it off the dribble
he's beating us back out. We get in trouble, we dish it to him for the
dunk. We hope he keeps playing well, and if he do, I think he'll go a
long way.

KEATON GRANT: I think he took his game to another level, especially
since the Big Ten play started. And for now just being a defensive
presence I think is the most just blocking shots, anytime, just
helping defense. I don't think he did that so much last year. But he
knew we could do it, because he showed it in practice. It's starting
now and it's coming out on the floor where we need it most, and that's
where it's the most important.

Q. You guys talked about transition and rebounding. They got a
couple of baskets in transition, but I think you guys out rebounded
them. Keaton, I think you had double digits, talk about the focus and
being able to follow through.

KEATON GRANT: We knew they were one of the best teams in the nation
in rebounding. That's what we wanted to do is make sure we tried to
beat them at rebounding, because we knew JaJuan could box out
Pondexter, but we needed our guards to do more rebounding this game
more than ever, and I think that's one thing that coach emphasized
during the pregame, is our guards needed to get rebounds and help our
big guys out so they wouldn't get so many loose balls.

Q. Keaton, there was an earlier question about west coast teams
being up and down the court and being a little different. The
stereotype of Big Ten teams is that they're plodding teams, slow. Do
you guys think you're different? You seem to be more up and down the
court than most Big Ten teams.

KEATON GRANT: Somewhat. I think we are different, because we get up
and down the floor more than other Big Ten teams, besides probably
Michigan State, they do the fast break more than us. We can grind it
out. We can run in transition. I think like last year with Baylor, I
think we proved that, that we can go back and forth, back and forth
with teams. We're very versatile the way our personnel is.

Q. JaJuan of all your baskets, they made a run, I think they cut it
to two. Then you shipped inside and got that dunk with just under six
minutes to go, and you stretched it back out again. Could you talk
about that play and in retrospect how big was that dunk just for the
mental state as much as anything.

JAJUAN JOHNSON: E'Twaun did a good job following me down low to get
that dunk. But it was a pretty big play because of the timing and the
situation. We needed a basket.

Q. Can you talk about how important it was to build a large first
half lead and take the crowd out of the game, it's a sizable
Washington crowd here.

E'TWAUN MOORE: We definitely knew coming into the game it was going
to feel like away game, because their school being so close to here.
We knew the first five minutes was definitely going to be very
important to get control of the tempo of the game. Our guys did a
great job with that coming out ready to play. It was just just did a
great job. I think that was a very important key.

Q. Coach, your defensive pressure to start the game in retrospect
there were many key elements, but may have been the most important,
because it allowed you to create some separation. How much did you
like the way you played defense, especially the first half, but maybe
the first, especially 15 minutes?

COACH PAINTER: Well, one thing we were concerned with, especially
after watching them play Mississippi State, they have very quick
guards. And very tough to keep them in front of us. When they ran
their offense they were getting a balance of the dribble penetration,
and Isaiah Thomas creates for himself and his teammates. And then when
you over help, they kill you on the boards. I think you saw that at
the end of the game.

They simply dribbled the ball off the court and took us and broke us
down off the dribble. We did a good job of keeping the ball in front
of us, not allowing any direct feeds in the post from the top. You
can't allow them to step right in on you and just tried to make it
difficult for them.

Obviously they solved that equation at the end of the game, the last
ten minutes of the game they flat took us and they just did a great
job of penetrating and pitching and driving us and drawing fouls and
making shots. But I was proud of our guys because I knew they were
anxious to play the game, but we knew we had a very difficult task
playing here in Portland against Washington.

But, like somebody just said, we were able to get that lead and they
played from behind. And I think that was key for us to take the crowd
out of it. And obviously I ran out of time outs. I would have kept
calling time outs, I tried my best to keep the crowd out of it by
calling time outs.

Q. The possession I asked JaJuan about, they were really feeling it.
And especially Isaiah and Pondexter seemed like they were making
everything. And then how important was it to get that big defensive
possession from JaJuan and two blocked shots?

COACH PAINTER: That was probably the play of the game, those two
blocks, and then securing the basketball after the ball came up short
on that second blocked shot. But JaJuan was in a very tough position
in that stretch. Every time it seemed he committed to the ball
handler, they passed. When he stayed with Brockman they scored the
ball or he fouled them.

It was a huge play by JaJuan and Rob to get that loose ball. That's
what you have to have at the end of the game. A lot of people talk
about offensive possessions and making shots, it almost always comes
down to getting stops and we were able to get a shop stop and that was
the key play.

Q. Given what you went through with Robbie's injury in the middle of
the season and the last two regular season disappointments, just talk
about what it means to get through to the Sweet 16?

COACH PAINTER: Well, we were looking forward to the Big Ten
tournament, looking forward to the NCAA tournament just because we
felt we were practicing with our whole team. As we continued to have
more practices with our whole team, we felt we were making
improvements and finishing the regular season. We lost some games
there.

I thought we would play well in the Big Ten tournament, and we did.
And obviously coming into the NCAA tournament we won the first two
games. I think it's important from a practice standpoint to make those
improvements and then obviously you want to win in leading games and
we've been able to do that.

Q. Don't want to repeat the same question, but just how important
for your program, do you think, it was after going out the second
round two years in a row, to take that next step. I think Keaton said
getting over the hump, so to speak.

COACH PAINTER: This is the third year in a row we were in this
position where we won the first game. That's what we talked about
after the win with Northern Iowa, trying to make another step. And but
we knew it was going to be tough, because Washington is such a good
team, well coached team, tough, physical team, has quickness. But it's
great, just like winning the Big Ten tournament for this young group
and now being able to go to the Sweet 16, it's a big accomplishment
and I'm proud of our guys.

Q. Is there anything special about this particular group that might
have helped them hold off Washington as they kind of came roaring back here, anything you can put your finger on?

COACH PAINTER: I think in terms of the game, anytime you lead the
whole game and you never give up that lead, I think that's important.
If they can make a couple of plays down the stretch and get that lead.
Now it just it seems like it takes the wind out of your sails. We made
a couple of key stops and key buckets in the last minutes of the game.
I thought that was important.

We have a resilient group. Our guys play well together. They move
the basketball. Like I said earlier it's been a tough year for us,
because of Rob's injury, and we've had some guys out because of being
sick. And they've kept their head up, and they've kept battling, and
hopefully we can continue to play good basketball.

Q. Yesterday in the Washington locker room Brockman talked a little
bit about the fact he realized that you had played Blake Griffin and
you had played Kyle Singler, and he offered up to me, he goes, well,
you know, that may help them against him. Brockman got nuts near the
end of the game and did some great things. Did playing Griffin and
playing Singler help you at all as you prepared for him?

COACH PAINTER: I think it helps anytime you play great players. Just
having the experience of playing great players and great teams. And
that's why you schedule the way you do to help you in a game like
this. Brockman gets 20 points and 18 rebounds for his 60th career
double double. If it helps us, you wouldn't think someone would have
numbers like that.

I think it's a real tribute to him and the career he's had, and the
same with Blake Griffin, we held him to 21 and 19. I thought we did a
good job on both of them, and they still get 20 and 18. At the end
Brockman did a great job of carving out space and getting rebounds.
But he's a great player, one of the best players in school history and
deserves all the credit that he gets.

Q. How concerned were you early in the game with the way the game
was being called, a lot of stuff in the Big Ten that doesn't get
called got called. How concerned were you?

COACH PAINTER: We had to back up a little bit. We wanted to play
smart, but also keep the ball in front of us. We didn't do a very good
job at the end of the game. Isaiah Thomas was able to break us down
off the dribble. Dentmon broke us down off the dribble a couple of
times. We were in a tough position whether you help or don't help with
someone the size of the Brockman at the rim.

But we were going back and forth. When each one had those three
fouls and then they had the four fouls, the same with Lewis Jackson,
when to put him back in the game was a tough call. But at some time
you have to ride with your best players regardless of those fouls. We
would like to be more aggressive, but when you get in foul trouble you
have to think smart and try to keep the guy in front of you and not
foul them and let them steal points.

Q. Can you talk a little bit about transition defense? I think there
was seven minutes left in the first half before Washington got points
in transition?

COACH PAINTER: We thought it was important for us, first of all, to
take good shots. If you watch tape of Washington, anytime people take
bad shots against them it leads to a basket. They are able to push the
basketball and going the other direction. So we wanted to take good
shots first of all. And then we wanted to get to their point guards,
to get to Overton and Thomas and try to make them come back to their
baseline to get the basketball. And just make them work for it.

That's what we do, we go up and jam the basketball, they go up and
jam the basketball. So it was kind of a mirror image for an while. But
we compared Washington to Michigan State. And we said if you allow
them to get in transition and allow them to rebound you have no
chance. That's how we feel with Michigan State. If we can hold even,
which we were able to, and keep them out of transition, which we were
able to do about three fourths of the game we thought we had a chance
to win.


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