Purdue started the season with high expectations and a 14-0 start to the season had them looking like the team to beat in the Big Ten. However, after getting off to such a great start, the Boilermakers slipped midway through the season, dropped three straight conference games and looked vulnerable. Well, since that time, Purdue has ripped off nine straight conference wins and they have their eyes on not only a Big Ten Conference Title but a number one seed in the NCAA Tournament. While they may not get the kind of recognition of Kentucky or Kansas or some of the teams from the Big East, the Boilermakers already have five wins against top 25 teams and have a chance to notch another win against one of the top teams in the country this weekend when they play host to Michigan State.
Matt Painter joined 1070 the Fan in Indianapolis with Dan Dakich to talk about the play of his team since the three-game losing streak, what it means to have one of the best defensive players in the country on his team to guard some of the players in the Big Ten, and the ability to have a number of players that can step up at any time and carry his team.
On the poor start that the team had to conference play:
“We hit a little bit of a wall. We had some success to start the season but we still weren’t a dominating or an overpowering team. We really let some things slip on the defensive end and rebounding. Since that three game losing streak our guys have really done a better job on the court and in the class. You also have to have your stars step up and make plays. I think at different times I don’t think a lot of people in the country have a center, a forward, and a guard who can all step up late in the game and score the ball for you. The fact that (Keaton) Grant stepped up the last two games here and made shots is really the icing on the cake for us. It really allows those guys to sit out there and make an open shot and that’s what we struggled with. We struggled with people outside of (Robbie) Hummell (E’Twaun) Moore and (JaJuan) Johnson just consistently making an open shot so it’s great to see Grant step up and make some plays.”
On whether or not he is upset about the play of last year’s Defensive Player of the Year in the Big Ten Chris Kramer:
“It kinda just happened and then we’ve stuck with it. The thing is every guy you have mentioned and you can throw Kalin Lucas on top of it, if he has to birddog those guys the whole game it wears him down and we’re trying to wear them down. Then late in the game, Kramer is fresh. Nobody is stopping Evan Turner, I really believe that. You can slow him down and maybe you can force him into more jump shots. And a guy like Kalin Lucas and (Demitri) McCamey, they are tough players and you gotta keep bringing people at them. But you can stop some other guys. We put Kramer on some of those other guys and we can shut those guys down instead of having Kramer start on those other guys and struggling a little bit and then the other guy getting off and Evan Turner getting off and then it’s a crazy cycle so that’s what we’ve been doing lately.”
On the ability of E’Twaun Moore to hit big shots:
“Especially if you look at his points late in the game. He really stepped up and made some plays down the stretch and made some tough pull-ups in key times.”
On who they want the ball in the hands of at the end of the game:
“We’ve had some games this year where some things have worked for us and we’ve ran some motion and put guys on defense and tried to play. I’ve switched from doing that because that’s how we’re gonna go down. If you’re gonna beat us we’re gonna go down with the ball in his hands. But more times than not, he steps up and makes the right play.”