Feb. 4, 2008
Q&A with Keaton Grant
By David Brienza, Purdue sports information student assistant
Confidence. It's a wonderful thing to have.
Sophomore Keaton Grant, who is leading Purdue in scoring with 12.1 points per game through the Boilermakers first 18 games, attributes the success he's having on the offensive end of the court this season to increased confidence.
"I think confidence is the biggest thing when it comes to my offense,"Grant said. "It's a mindset and I have a lot more confidence this season. I've always had offense, but I didn't showcase it last year, that wasn't my role."
Grant is showcasing his offensive skills this season. In the Boilermakers' second game of the season against Lipscomb, the Boilermakers trailing 62-61 with under a minute to play when Grant hit a three-point basket to put Purdue ahead. The Boilermakers went on to win that game 66-62 and Grant hasn't stopped since.
Perhaps what is most impressive about Grant's play this season is that he has played an even bigger role in Big Ten Conference play. After averaging 9.6 points a contest in 11 non-conference games, Grant has boosted his scoring average to 17.4 points per game through five Big Ten games.
Teammate Marcus Green said the Boilermakers have realized Grant's improvement on the offensive end and they now look to him offensively.
"He's been able to step up and make some big shots for us," Green said. "We want to feed him the ball. He's got a lot of confidence and he's shooting for a good percentage especially in Big Ten play, so we're definitely looking to get it to him."
In the Boilermakers' Big Ten opener, Grant dropped 17 points on Michigan, a performance in which he hit 5-of-6 from three-point range. Last week, Grant was named Big Ten Player of the Week after he scored 22 points in two consecutive games, in Purdue's victories over Iowa and Illinois.
Purdue coach Matt Painter
said Grant's improvement has been a welcome surprise.
"I didn't see this coming," Painter said. "There's no doubt he's a better shooter and there is no doubt he's put time into improving his game. He's not just a good shooter, he's a good all-around guard and you can put him on the other team's best player."
In the victories over Iowa and Illinois, Grant shot a combined 8-of-12 from behind the three-point line and was 14-of-14 from the free-throw line. Following the Illinois game, Fighting Illini coach Bruce Weber said Grant is one of the most improved players in the Big Ten.
"Grant's gotta be one of the most improved players in the country, definitely in the Big Ten," Weber said. "Last year, we wouldn't have thought he was a threat from three, but he hit them today and made his free throws."
Grant, who was 4-of-6 from behind the arc and a perfect 8-of-8 from the charity stripe against Illinois, said not being respected as a shooter last season bothered him.
"Last season, teams would leave me alone on the perimeter," Grant said. "It bothered me that teams weren't guarding me on the three-point line. In the offseason, I tried to take as many shots as I could every day. I've been a little more aggressive this season, I think this year, they have to respect me more."
Looking at the rest of the season, Grant said that with the talent the Boilermakers have a top three finish in the Big Ten is possible. If Grant continues his hot shooting that certainly is a possibility, but the sophomore said he's not looking for glory, he just wants to help Purdue reach the NCAA Tournament.
"I think I've improved my game," Grant said. "At the end of the game, I feel like I'm a guy that could be taking the last shot, but there are plenty of guys on this team who can take the last shot. I'm not about the glory though. If I'm hot for the night, I feel confident being able to take the last shot."
Bruce Weber just might agree with Grant.