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BIG TEN CONFERENCE MEN'S TOURNAMENT


March 14, 2015


A.J. Hammons

Matt Painter

P.J. Thompson


CHICAGO, ILLINOIS

Wisconsin ¬Ė 71
Purdue - 51


COACH PAINTER:¬† Well, I felt that our guys did a good job coming out and being ready to play.¬† I thought they did a good job of executing what we wanted in the first half we got a spark from PJ Thompson off the bench, made a couple huge threes for our team.¬† But I thought we did a good job up to that point.¬† We've had a little bit of a trend‑‑ not a little bit of a trend, a trend, where when we lead at half, we have a tough start to the second half, and when we're behind at half, we have a great start to the second half.¬† And it makes absolutely no sense because I've never been part of a basketball season when it's been that way, but that has been a trend for our team.
The problem with playing Wisconsin is when you have those bad starts and you allow them to get their head up and they start playing with confidence, it can snowball in a hurry.¬† I did think that we did a good job in the stretch coming up into the 10‑minute mark to where we called a time‑out.¬† They had it to six, we ran it back to one, they ran it back to six, had to call another one.¬† We have a couple open threes at that point.¬† We miss them, and we never really bounce back and recover.¬† But I just thought Wisconsin was great in the second half.¬† We were quicker to the basketball, they out‑rebounded us.¬† I thought Bronson Koenig was very good for them.
We tried to get fouled instead of scoring the ball on a handful of possessions, and they have a way of frustrating you the way they defend, and played great position defense, and we didn't do a good job of adjusting with it and kind of fell apart from there.  But give them credit, they've got a chance to do something special in the NCAA Tournament.  Bo has done a great job.

Q.  A.J., I don't know how much time elapsed after your offensive foul where you backed into Kaminsky and when you got into foul trouble and were on the bench because of that, but it seemed like after that foul, something just sort of shut off with you or you didn't have it after that.  Am I wrong?  What was going on with you after that play?
A.J. HAMMONS:  Got my head down a little bit personally.  I thought it was my third foul, so I tried to slow myself down a little bit.  It hurt our team, but the second half I came out and I didn't feel like I had enough opportunities, so I was kind of down on myself and trying to pick myself up, and that just hurt me a little bit.

Q.  A.J., did they do anything differently on you on defense in the second half?
A.J. HAMMONS:  I don't think they did anything differently, really just trying to get around, and when I got the ball, just trying to poke it from the back.  That`s the only thing really differently.  Really just kept trying to push me out and then just give me room, and I felt he was just trying to take charge the whole time, so when I did get the ball later on, just tried not to lower my shoulder as much.  But I don't feel like they changed up that much.

Q.  P.J., we've seen the trend and the results of what's happened lately when you guys are up by the half and then end up losing.  Have you seen any trends within the way you guys are playing in those situations that's leading to that within the last three games?
P.J. THOMPSON:  Not really.  I mean, sometimes when a team is making a run on us, we might get stagnant on offense a little bit, we might not move as much, cut as much.  And we're just standing and watching.  We need to just come together as a team really, be able to sustain a run, and be able just pick it up and know that we can hang with them.  We've just going to stay on a run.

Q.  A.J., I appreciate your answer to my last question.  You play against Kaminsky obviously, I'm sure you've tangled before with Nigel Hayes and even with Dekker.  Can you describe each one of them, what it's like to play against them when they're rolling and what you think is unique?
A.J. HAMMONS:  Are you talking about offense or defense?

Q.  Whatever stands out to you.
A.J. HAMMONS:¬† You know, they're just very versatile just offensive wise.¬† You've got to have a great close‑out each time.¬† Hayes knocked down great threes this game.¬† Kaminsky, he'll get you on the tough edge, get you on the drive, so it's hard trying to stay in front of him.¬† He's more‑‑ I would say he moves better than most, so just something like that, you've got to be ready to guard that kind of speed, that kind of just versatility.¬† I felt like we did great the first half but the second half we didn't stay together as a group, and it just kind of hurt us.

Q.  Going forward this year and into next year, when you're sitting in halftime like you were today and you see how great you played and you were really dominant during stretches, do you feel that this can be a really elite team over the next few years and if you're capable of putting 40 minutes together you can compete with anybody?
P.J. THOMPSON:¬† Yeah, I mean, this year has been a great learning experience for us as a team.¬† Going back to December we had some downs, and we lost to two teams that we weren't really supposed to lose to, but I felt like we came together as a team after that and we had a nice meeting.¬† We had great practice after that, and we just felt like we just needed to get back to Purdue basketball, and that's what we did, and we were able to make a great run in the conference tournament.¬† But when we get down at halftime, we just can't get complacent really.¬† We've just got to know that first media time‑out, instead of getting up five, let's get up nine, ten, and move on from there.
A.J. HAMMONS:¬† Really I feel like we`re going to be a great team next year and years on.¬† We have so much depth on the bench and our starting five is just so good.¬† We've got to learn to play more as a team.¬† We put in a lot of work in the off‑season, just more coming together as a group and when your number is called, just make sure you're ready all the time.

Q.  A.J., they were able to get some offensive rebounds there when you guys were down quite a bit.  What kind of impact did that have on your guys' ability to do something positive, maybe get your heads back up when you were down pretty significantly?
A.J. HAMMONS:¬† It was kind of hard.¬† Somebody was just getting offensive rebounds.¬† You`ve got Coach yelling at you, like, just rebound, rebound.¬† It`s hard.¬† A couple guys put their heads down.¬† Anytime we got an offensive rebound, they`d kick it back out and get a big three.¬† It's pretty much a game changer.¬† It hurt our team, but it's just something ‑‑ we just had to come together as a group, try and get it back.¬† Shots weren't falling for us, but I feel like next time we'll get it.

Q.  Matt, how good is Wisconsin and do you see them potentially being a No.1 seed?
COACH PAINTER:¬† Well, I don't know about the seeding because I don't know what all goes into it.¬† But I think they have a chance to win a national championship, so I don't think there's a lot of people that can say that.¬† They're versatile.¬† The element of being really good and not fouling people is unheard of.¬† They do an unbelievable job with that, and I'm not knocking that or saying that.¬† They do a great job.¬† They were not fouling us down there, even though at times we were calling for it.¬† They were not.¬† They get physical with you, and then when the ball comes, they play great position defense and they don't give you angles and they come from different spots.¬† They're really good.¬† They get to the free‑throw line and their opponent doesn't.
When they rebound the basketball‑‑ like today I thought they shot the ball just okay.¬† They had a good stretch in the second half.¬† They can actually shoot better than they did.¬† Their percentages are good in the second half, but they had some open looks and we were giving them some of those open looks.¬† We were trying to keep their post play‑‑ we were trying to keep that out, keep the ball out of the post to the best of our ability.¬† They can hurt you in so many ways with their skill and their size, and then they have one of the best coaches in the game.

Q.¬† You allowed two turnovers‑‑ Purdue had two turnovers in the first half, seven in the second.¬† Do you attribute that to your play or Wisconsin's?
COACH PAINTER:  A little bit of both?  They're not a pressure team outside of a couple guys.  You can't play alternate size the way they do and then pressure.  They pack it in, they take it away, Gasser will pressure, Koenig will pressure a little bit.  You can`t tell people not to foul and then go after people.  You're going to have a contradiction there.
So I thought we did a good job of moving the ball and being patient and getting what we wanted offensively, but for us that's great.  We've struggled in that area, but we haven't struggled with this style of teams turning it over.  We've struggled with team that are a little bit different than this.

Q.  The lesson being learned from Isaac playing in a game like this, how much does it benefit him down the road in terms of his growth?
COACH PAINTER:¬† Well, I think he's got a chance to be great.¬† He's got to learn from his mistakes.¬† He's getting frustrated sometimes when things don't go his way.¬† We had a couple calls against him in Penn State that were borderline atrocious.¬† It's mindboggling because he used to lie to me early in the season, so he'd come off‑‑ he was one of those guys, I didn't foul him, and he just would crush the guy.¬† Now the past two months he's been really good.¬† He was like, Coach, I didn't touch this guy, he flopped, and you go back and watch tape and he`s right.¬† They crack him in the head in the Penn State game and then they call him for a foul he's had some things go his way.¬† He's got to have a great off‑season.¬† I think the officials have to have a great off‑season, because he's different, man, he is 7'2", 300 pounds and he's trying to keep position and he's keeping his arms up and he's legal most of the time.¬† But they have to learn how to officiate him because those guys can`t keep him from where he wants to get and still be in legal guarding position.¬† But I think the whole body of work, he's not going to grow until he can get that frustration away and not be able to get so down on himself when he doesn't get a call.¬† He had a point blank lay‑up right there.¬† He went to get fouled. ¬†You've got to go to score that and take that guy with you.

Q.  With A.J. in the second half, did they do anything differently or was it just a matter of playing better defense on him?
COACH PAINTER:¬† You know, I thought it was him to be frank with you.¬† I thought at times big guys want lay‑ups and you've got to take a five‑foot jump hook.¬† They're so good with their positioning.¬† We've really worked with A.J. on that, just holding, pausing, waiting, and then go above them.¬† Because A.J. can go to a spot they can't get to even with seven footer if you keep your angle and score the basketball.¬† And he was just trying to grind it a little bit more and wheel and deal and get to lay‑up mode, and you've just got to score the basketball.
But I didn't think they did anything.  I thought he dropped the ball and they took it from him once.  I thought they blocked his shot the other time.  The other time I thought he just missed when they played good position defense.
If you want to know how to play position post defense, watch Wisconsin.  They do the best job the way they teach it.  A.J. really did a good job in the first half of going against that.  In the second half he kind of reverted back once some things went against him.

Q.  Do you like where you're at, where your team is at heading into the tournament?  And following up, is there any question in your mind that you're in the tournament?
COACH PAINTER:¬† I like where we're at.¬† I like our effort.¬† I like our guys, and I thought today we got away from what got us the lead.¬† But we also didn't make shots in that stretch.¬† Sometimes if you don't make shots, it doesn't look as good as it was before.¬† I do think we're in the tournament.¬† We've had 13 Big Ten wins, and I do feel we're in the tournament.¬† But we had to overcome some things.¬† There's no doubt the way we played non‑conference we had to go get‑‑ I said it when we walked out of non‑conference.¬† I just said, we've got to get 13 Big Ten wins in some way, counting the Big Ten Tournament, however you want to accumulate it, we've got to get to 13, and we were able to do that.

Q.¬† Why was Bronson Koenig such a tough match‑up in the second half?
COACH PAINTER:  Well, we switched some of those and he broke us down off the dribble the one time late and shot that tough shot that banked in.  He broke us down on a switch one time stuck a three of Vince.  He stuck a three on Basil, and we're going to live with that.  We`re going to go on the switch and knock Frank Kaminsky out of driving the basketball and then make him make a play over us.  I think you've got to tip your hat to him.  I thought the made some tough shots in that stretch really helped him.  The ones that we get frustrated with are the ones that he's open.  Those are the ones.  But those three right now, I thought those guys played good D, the offense was just better than the defense.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports




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