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NCAA Sweet 16 Press Conference Transcript: Purdue (March 25, 2009)

Wednesday, March 25, 2009 , Posted by Christopher Byrne at 8:06 PM, under , ,

Athens, GA (Mar 25, 2009) -The Sweet 16 Teams are getting ready for their games over the next two days. Part of that preparation is sitting down with the media. Here is the transcript of the Purdue University press conference, as provided by the NCAA.

THE MODERATOR: We have been joined by Purdue head Coach Matt Painter. I will ask Coach to offer a few general comments and then we will make him available for your questions. Coach?

COACH PAINTER: First of all, we are honored to be here. It is a big
accomplishment for our program, making the Sweet 16 especially after
playing two tough teams in Northern Iowa and Washington. I thought our
guys have played extremely hard in both games. Came out, were ready to
play. I think that will be very important against our next game
against UConn. Just be ready to play and having a good start to the

I think the keys for us regardless of who we play is just taking
care of the basketball, our shot selection, getting good shots. The
past two weeks we have done a good job of being patiently aggressive
and attacking when we have angles, putting the team on defense. When
there is nothing there, we will have to continue to do that if we want
to have success, and then rebounding the ball. I think our guys have
done a good job of rebounding the ball after we struggled with it at
the tail end of our regular season.

So I think those things are going to be key for us in this next
game. And really looking forward to the challenge of UConn. UConn is
obviously No. 1 seed, one of the best teams in the country if not the
best. Unbelievable front game. Great lead guard in A.J. Price and had
some guys really step up, Stanley Robinson and Dyson going down with
an injury. Just a great team, hall of fame coach. We have a lot of
respect for UConn and what they have been able to do.

Q. Matt, you talked about the big guys and we have all seen them on
TV. To me, Price seems like, for lack of a better term, the ringleader
or the king of the show. Can you just talk a little bit about how
important he is and how he gets everybody else involved?

COACH PAINTER: Well, you know, he is their leader. I think his
ability to create for their basketball team is very important, whether
that's for himself, with 3s or pull ups or drives to the basket, or it
is for the other guys, kickouts for other shots or post moves or
dumps. There is no doubt when you get to this point, you better have a
good point guard, you better have a good leader on both ends of the

He does a great job defensively. With that being said, I think Kemba
Walker is also a great player. He allows Price to slide over to the
two some and he takes over the ball, handling ability. Both of those
guys are very good, obviously A.J. Price is one of the best points in
the country. It will be key for us to just stick with him and not let
him get his head up. He is one of those guys that you can play good
defense on if he gets his head up and still makes plays and still
makes shots.

Q. Matt, do you see any positives at all for your team considering
that Connecticut now could have some controversy based on this
morning's stories from Yahoo! Sports?

COACH PAINTER: I don't think so. I think for the experience and the
experience that Coach Calhoun has been through in his career, you have
got to keep, no matter what happens, your team focused. They will stay
focused on the task at hand.

Obviously in the first two rounds they played extremely well. They
dominated both teams. I don't see why they won't keep their focus. If
you have watched them play throughout the course of the year, they
play well together. They do a lot of little things. You can see they
have a lot of good chemistry and I wouldn't think anything would be a
distraction to them at all.

Q. At least statistically it looks like JaJuan Johnson is a
different player this year. Can you talk about what his development
has meant and how it has contributed to get you to where you are right

COACH PAINTER: I think his development has a lot to do with his
confidence. He is very long. He is skilled. He is athletic. He is
slowly but surely getting stronger and making stronger plays. I think
that's important.

A lot of times people get confused with how much you can bench to
make strong plays. There are a lot of guys in the country that can
bench press a lot of weight but can't make plays around the basket.
JaJuan is a guy that is making strong plays around the basket and
strong moves around the perimeter.

He has had some big games as of late in January, his confidence has
begun to explode and our guys have been comfortable giving him the
ball in different situations.

He has been able to play probably his best basketball against the
best competition which is great sign for somebody's development.

Q. Obviously you just talked about JaJuan. Can you just talk about
kind of the matchup tomorrow between the two big men. Are you
oversimplifying things a little bit to assume his jump shooting
ability can help keep Hasheem Thabeet away from the basket?

COACH PAINTER: I think against UConn, they are so good defensively,
the way they block shots, the way they pressure the basketball and the
way they stay out of foul trouble. They do not foul. They do not put
their opponents on the free throw line. I think that's important. We
are going to have to make some shots regardless if we are playing
Connecticut, Washington or Northern Iowa.

JaJuan needs to take as many good shots as possible. We don't need
to get consumed with playing any differently. I think we have to be
more selective at times. You have to understand when certain guys are
set, when Hasheem Thabeet is set he is a very, very good defender. If
JaJuan Johnson has open perimeter shots we want him to take those. But
it would be no different against any other opponent.

Q. You hear football coaches all the time talk about when you go to
a Bowl game, the short time there, long time there, whatever, you made
the decision to come out here. Have you been here I think this is your
fourth full day. Has it gone as you had hoped? You said you wanted to
keep it as normal, routine as possible. Has that been difficult? Can
you talk just a little bit about how you managed this trip experience?

COACH PAINTER: I think it has really helped us because we haven't
had the distractions of going home and everybody patting us on the
back and telling us how great we are. Now you keep them out in
Phoenix. You take a couple days off. Practice really a day and a half
off. Practiced a couple days, kept them short. We went about an hour
each day.

We just kept our normal routine and try to do the same things. We'll
see. We are trying to give them as much rest as possible, but also
hammer down the little things we need to do to be successful on

THE MODERATOR: We have been joined by the Purdue student athletes. I will ask each of them to offer an opening comment. I will start with
E'Twaun and work down to Robbie and JaJuan.

E'TWAUN MOORE: We are very excited to be here at the Sweet 16. It
has been a long road for us. The end of the season was rocky, so this
is a great reward for our team to be here. Come out and have fun and
hopefully try to make it to the next round.

ROBBIE HUMMEL: As E'Twaun said, we are excited to be here. It has
been a long week since we have been here since Saturday night. I think
we are ready to go and excited to play a good team like UConn.

JAJUAN JOHNSON: Just happy to be here, the opportunity we have in
front of us playing a good UConn team. Like they say, we are ready to
get out there on the floor to try to make the Boilermaker fans happy.

Q. JaJuan and Robbie, can you talk about your approach to playing
against Connecticut's front line, obviously very powerful and big.

JAJUAN JOHNSON: They are a real tough couple of guys that guard,
A.J. and Robinson sometimes is down there. Really we just have to play
really good post defense, post help defense. We have to be real
physical with them. Make sure you box them out every time because they
are going to the glass every time. And offensive end, just try to
stretch them out and keep them moving. Those are the things we have to
do if we are going to win.

ROBBIE HUMMEL: Like JaJuan said, they have three guys that are very
big, strong and physical. We have to box out every time because that's
a very important stat for the game. If we can win the rebounding
battle, we will do a lot for us.

Q. JaJuan, what has been the difference in your game and your
improvement? Where have you gotten better this year?

JAJUAN JOHNSON: I would say just finishing stronger towards the
basket, some things, you know, I have improved on. Also, last year
during the summer, I really worked on my 15 foot shot. I think that's
really helped my game. Those are just a couple things I feel like I
pretty much improved on.

Q. E'Twaun, can you talk about defending A.J. Price. I am sure you
will not get him exclusively, but you will be on him on occasion. Will
you get in his face a little more? He is starting to hit a lot of
outside shots.

E'TWAUN MOORE: We are just trying to contain him, get up in him, try
not to give him a lot of space so he can break you down and create for
other guys.

He is very dangerous if you let him go to the hole or getting a
little dish. If he misses baskets, the other team can get it. We will
try to contain him. If we do, we will have a good chance for this ball

Q. JaJuan, I wanted to get your take after watching film of him,
what do you like about Thabeet other than everything?

JAJUAN JOHNSON: He is a real good player defensively, with his
athleticism, he changes the game sometimes. Really a lot of people
don't know that he is a pretty skilled player. I have had a chance to
watch a little film on him. He is pretty much automatic. He can
reverse pivot. He has a real good soft touch for a big man.

Q. Guys, any of you can take this, it seems like a lot of people are
approaching this as what Connecticut can do to you, but you provide
some matchup problems as well especially offensively. Can you guys
talk about that a little bit.

E'TWAUN MOORE: They definitely have a big front line, things like
that. Yes, we got Rob, he is a skilled forward. He cause as lot of
problems because they are trying to guard him. He always takes them
out around the perimeter.

It is definitely going to be some good matchups during this game. I
think both ways there are going to be some good equal opportunities
for us to get good scoring chances. It should be a good game.

ROBBIE HUMMEL: I think that also JaJuan will pose a matchup problem
for their guys because he can step out and hit that 15 footer. I don't
know if they have seen a whole lot of that from a five man shooter. It
could be a little different for them guarding JaJuan because he can go
inside and outside.

JAJUAN JOHNSON: Like they said, I can shoot the 15 foot shot.
Hopefully I can try to bring those guys out. We have Nemanja Calasan,
shooting the 3s he is a real big, tough, physical guy. He can go
inside and outside, too. So I think us and Rob can try to pull them

Q. Robbie, how has your team improved rebounding wise? You are not
necessarily a small team, but you are not as big as some other ones.
What has been the key when you do well on the boards?

ROBBIE HUMMEL: I think it is important for us to rebound by
committee. Not so much for one guy to grab him but for a lot of guys
that have five to eight. I think we can do that, we are in good shape.

Q. Would Chris be on A.J. some or will you mix it up or do you know?

E'TWAUN MOORE: I think a whole lot of guards will have a chance to
guard him up front, try to wear him down. He will try to play 40
minutes if possible. He will have a lot of different guys guard him.

Q. Robbie, you fell on your left shoulder on Saturday. Any lingering
effects from that?

ROBBIE HUMMEL: No. I just kind of got my leg caught up on Elston
Turner and landed on my shoulder. There is not anything there.

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