March 13, 2010
COACH PAINTER: First of all, I want to congratulate Minnesota. With everything on the line, I thought it was going to be a great college basketball game, and obviously it wasn't. But hopefully that victory got Minnesota into the NCAA Tournament, and I think they deserved it, and they kept their head up. They kept battling all year through adversity, through some suspensions, some guys not playing for them, and they just kept plugging and I think they've got a great team and they're going to do a great job in the NCAA Tournament.
Just unfortunate. We have a great group of guys that have worked very hard to be in this position and now be 27-5, we've had a great season, and being 2-3 in the Big Ten and battling back and being Big Ten champs. I'm proud of our guys, but we simply didn't have anything in our tank today, and obviously Minnesota did and they had some things go their way to start the game and we didn't, and it snowballed from there. The game of basketball will humble you, and today we were obviously humbled.
THE MODERATOR: Questions for Chris and JaJuan.
Q. JaJuan, they just seemed to have a relentless pursuit for rebounds today, and you've talked all year about that, how key that is for you guys to rebound. Early in the game did that create the snowball?
JaJuan Johnson: Yeah, it definitely makes a difference. Any time your shots are not falling, they're rebounding really well, and they're having shots fall for their end, it really doesn't -- it's not good on your end really. So credit to them. They really played hard. They played with a sense of urgency, and unfortunately we didn't come out like that.
Q. Chris, obviously without Robbie, some people have questioned what your seeding will be in the NCAA Tournament, maybe a 2, 3. That coupled with this loss, can that really affect your seeding or do you guys think you are pretty solid at a 2 or 3?
Chris Kramer: Basically none of that is in our hands. The only thing we can do is -- we've got to win basketball games, and today we didn't have the effort we needed to. We didn't play as well as we'd like. So everything, the seeding and where we're going to go is in the selection committee's hands, so we've got to take that. Whatever they put us, whatever seed we are, we've just got to take that and learn as much about it, have as much fun as we can, have a great week of practice and then come out and lay it on the line.
Q. Coach talked about not having much in the tank. The game yesterday was physical and taxing. Did that have something to do with this?
Chris Kramer: That game was very physical, but when it all comes down to it, you have to prepare yourself to play three games in three days. I just think mentally we weren't ready to play three games in three days, so we've got to do that. Now we've got to move forward from this, keep this in the back of our mind, remember how this felt, that solid taste in our mouths, and use that as motivation this next week in practice and try to flip -- everything that Minnesota did today against us, rebounding teams, just flat out playing harder, we've got to try to flip that and put it on somebody else.
JaJuan Johnson: Yeah, like Chris said, a lot of teams going in, we expect that we're going to play three games, so mentally we should have been ready to come out and have something in our tank really.
In the NCAA Tournament, it doesn't get any better. You might have a couple days off, but if you keep advancing it's going to be like that. It's like that for every team.
Q. How do you bounce back from this? What do you as one of the two seniors, what can you do to help this team bounce back from this performance?
Chris Kramer: I mean, we're 27-5, so we've had a great season. We had some adversity today. We've just got to come out and just stay together. Everyone is doubting us. The only people that really believe in our team are the people in our locker room. We've just got to come together and have a big-time effort every time we step on the court from here on now because at this point in the season it's win or go home.
Q. JaJuan, a bucket right before halftime, which cut the lead down to 26. But shortly into the second half, back-to-back field goals for you, a couple free throws, a tech was called and a couple more free throws knocked down, and then you got the crowd into it, got it within 18. Your thoughts at that point of the ballgame?
JaJuan Johnson: Pretty much just tried to just keep chipping away at that lead really was our main focus. That's all we really had to do at that point. When you dig yourself that deep of a hole, you've just got to take each possession at a time really and just make progress from there.
Q. Unfortunately at this point, you guys are kind of used to seeing players go down. That means something. I don't know how much you know about Lewis. Can you speak to what you guys need to do in case he is out and the mentality going forward with that?
Chris Kramer: We played the first half of the season without Lew. Optimistic, I think Lew is going to be back. Lew is a competitor. But we've just got to have everybody else step up if Lew is not out there, which at this point we don't know anything about that. So I mean, everyone else has got to be more efficient and everyone else has got to play harder but it comes down to getting stops on the basketball for our team.
THE MODERATOR: Questions for Coach Painter?
Q. Take us through halftime. Stat-wise I'm not going to give you any stats, but the number, the worst half Purdue basketball has had since 1950. What in the world do you tell any of these kids at that point?
COACH PAINTER: Well, you know, I talked to them about being 2-3 in the Big Ten when we were in Evanston, and I told them I thought we could still win the Big Ten. I also told them I was crazy, and they understand that.
But I did believe we could win the Big Ten. We were 2-3, and I told them at that time. That's what's great about competitive sports. You get ultimate challenges, and people already had a question, where do you turn from here, and you've got to dig deep. You've got to play within yourself. I just told them, you've got to -- I tried to get them to believe they could win the game. It's 26 points. They said, hey, has this ever been done, has anyone ever come back from 26 points? And the answer is yes. Very rarely, but it has happened. I think LSU came back from 29 points against Kentucky about 15 years ago. I just tried to get them to believe. If you can do that, why can't you come back in this game and battle? So we did it at a point, and they framed the question -- we had a good fight. But our fight came from guys that did not start for us. Our fight came from D.J. Byrd, from Ryne Smith, Barlow had a little bit right there. Why we didn't play well or why we didn't have it, it's one thing to miss shots, but when you get out-rebounded by 24 and you have as many misses as we had tonight you are going to get out rebounded by not by 24. Our guys have done a great job rebounding. It's not our strength, but still, it's an effort. The ball is going to go in for us a lot better than it did tonight, and it is one of these games you have to learn from.
Hopefully it doesn't happen again. Like I said in my opening comments, the game will humble you, and obviously today we were.
Q. Two things: First, any immediate prognosis on Lewis Jackson and E'Twaun? And secondly, are you concerned you may have played your way into a 3 seed?
COACH PAINTER: Well, you know, I think a 2 or a 3, it's really not that big of a deal. Just like a 1 or a 2, some people can argue that. The percentages say the better seed you have, the more you're going to advantage. It's small, but it's still -- so you're fighting to get the best seeds you can. But it still comes to us, especially as a matchup. The matchups are very important every year, but they're going to be very important to us with our group.
E'Twaun got hit a little bit. He was able to go back in the game. When I put him back in the game, I didn't think it made a whole lot of sense for him to go back in. I didn't take him out because of his injury, I took him out because the game was over. Those other guys needed to play. Lewis, the guy said he stepped on top of his foot, but they thought it would be okay. They didn't think it was something where he couldn't come back and play here this week. But I really don't know the answer to those questions, I'm just taking what the trainer said during the game.
Q. Can you talk a little bit about what you saw from the Minnesota defense, especially in that first 15 minutes?
COACH PAINTER: I thought Minnesota was great today. You know, silver lining to us, playing so poorly. Just kind of the Big Ten Tournament, I think we've got six teams in the tournament now, and that's great.
I thought their size, they do a good job with their size. They zoned us the time before. We had some success against them man to man. We actually had some success against them to start the game against the zone in Minneapolis. So we just had some good looks at the basket, and the ball just didn't go down for us. But they have good size, good athleticism, good quickness, very good balance. At times the guys he brings off the bench, they're just as productive as the starters. So he's got a good group.
Q. You know, Moore goes down and Jackson goes down. Do you get to a point as a coach, what's next?
COACH PAINTER: Well, you can't feel sorry for yourself. You have to play. We have to play better than we did today. We have to rebound better. But I'm proud of our guys. We're 27-5. We've had a great season. We've just got to regroup, come out and play better and play smarter. When you get down, you can't get frustrated. You've got to chip away at it one possession at a time, and you could see where our frustration showed.
Injuries are part of the game, and you've got to take it in stride. When other teams have injuries and we beat them, we don't have any sympathy for them, so we know people aren't going to have sympathy for us.
Q. What's your thoughts about, they're thinking about expanding the tournament from 64 to 96. What's your thoughts about expanding it?
COACH PAINTER: Well, it's one of those things in theory, right now, it makes for good conversation. A part of me likes it, a part of me doesn't. I think there's some rules that have happened in college basketball from the three-point line to the 45-second clock and the 35-second clock that everybody said don't do it, don't do it, it's a great game, and it was better for the game.
This is obviously expanding it and getting more teams in. But it'll be interesting, the criteria of the expansion in terms of who now is going to be the next teams that come in, and will it water it down a little bit.
I like it. The teams keep adding Division I since they started in 1985, '86, whenever it was. It went to 64 and it eventually got to 65. There's been a lot of teams jump into Division I. Are those teams going to the NCAA Tournament now? No, they're not, but are they going to work towards it, or is it going to be more towards major schools. It's interesting to see. You can't really have an opinion about something you haven't been through yet, so it's hard to say.
Q. Between the 27-5 record but then Robbie's injury and then the game today, whether it's from the committee's perspective or even just fans looking at you guys, what's the most fair way to look at Purdue right now? How should people be evaluating you guys, where you are right now?
COACH PAINTER: Well, they have to evaluate us really for where we are in terms of the guys on our roster and the guys that are currently playing in my opinion. I think we're 4-2 without Rob. I think we're a good basketball team. Obviously we're not better at this point than when Rob Hummel was playing. I think that is a pretty profound statement. But we can't control a part of that. We've got to go out and play and not make excuses, and we've got to figure a way -- our guys figured a way to win the Big Ten without him. We had a tough loss against Michigan State and then going on the road, played Penn State on the road versus Indiana, and then winning the first round against Northwestern. And so guys are familiar in your league because I think it's tough because we're now making an adjustment, and we've had some games under our belt. They have to evaluate us in our current state, and we understand that. We're just going to find out tomorrow where we play, and then we're going to watch some film and go out there and try to battle.
Q. You've often said some coaches in this situation will say, you know, forget that, go on, play a new day. But you've always kind of talked about you've got to sit in it a little bit, there's not a lot of days before your next game. I want to ask you that, to respond to that, given that the NCAA is right around the corner. And then the other thing I wanted to ask you, I noticed because you put all the other guys in the game and I noticed Stevie Loveless wasn't there. Is he with you?
COACH PAINTER: Yeah, we had a travel roster of 15, and I wanted to leave that open in case Rob wanted to come to the game. So with that -- you know, I talked about the comment -- the comment comes from us when we lost that first year and we were 9-19 and haven't forgotten about it.
There's also particular games that happen
when the wheels fall off and you have a bad day,
and they had a great day and we had a bad day,
and I look at it as we need to burn that tape, forget
about it, because we had 27 great wins this year
and we need to play to our strengths and go out
and just prepare for our first round opponent.