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March 18, 2015

Rapheal Davis

A.J. Hammons

Jon Octeus

Matt Painter


Q. Are you guys relaxed coming into this? It looks like you're kind of enjoying the experience right now. Any of the three of you, talk about the team's mentality coming into this event here.
JON OCTEUS: Mentality wise, we just explained that we want to enjoy this ride. We want to come into this understanding our opponents and just staying focused throughout. Also, having fun with it.

A.J. HAMMONS: Just to follow up on what he said pretty much, it's just here and being ready and also having fun. This is my first time in the NCAA Tournament. So just enjoying the trip and making sure we're always ready when game time starts.

RAPHEAL DAVIS: We feel loose right now. Just got to focus on Cincinnati tomorrow and go out there and play hard and have fun before the game and have fun after the game.

Q. Have you guys been asked more about tomorrow's game or the possibility of playing Kentucky?
JON OCTEUS: It's been a balance, but like we said, we want to focus on the opponent ahead, and that's Cincinnati. That's how our mindset has been. That's where our scouting report is coming from. That's where we're pushing in our locker room. That's kind of the focus we've been looking at. It's been a balance of both.

A.J. HAMMONS: Pretty much, there's a lot of talk about Kentucky, possibly end up playing them, but personally we're just trying to stay focused on Cincinnati. That's the first team. If we get that win, then we can talk about the next game.

RAPHEAL DAVIS: Stay focused on the task and hand and play a good Cincinnati team tomorrow and prepare for them one game at a time. We can't jump over them.

Q. How much does it help when you're preparing for a team like Cincinnati that's so much of a defensive at that point, does a lot of things kind of similar to you, even if they do it with different defenses, does that make it easier at this point?
JON OCTEUS: We're coming from the Big Ten, a very hard-nosed, physical, defensive-minded conference. So going into watching Cincinnati and viewing their scouting report and everything that they're going to be doing, it's kind of like similar to what we've been doing throughout the whole season. So, yes, of course they have different players, but as far as our mindset and preparing for it, we've played against a Cincinnati type team in our conference. So I think the transition will be fine. We'll be fine with it.

A.J. HAMMONS: They're just a great team, great rebounding, and very physical. It's just something that we've got to go out there and grind the game out, which is something we're looking forward to.

RAPHEAL DAVIS: I mean, it's a good team to go against. We play a team that's top ten in the country in points allowed, it just tells you right there that the game is going to be a grind. It's going to be a war type of atmosphere. Coming from the Big Ten, as Jon said, we're used to things like that. We like low scoring games and things like that. So I think it just works for both teams.

Q. Jon, can you kind of walk us through the whole process of last year, UCLA, your involvement with trying to apply to UCLA and then ending up at Purdue. What do you remember about that? Are you glad it worked out the way it did?
JON OCTEUS: I'm a strong believer in everything happens for a reason. Yeah, I was supposed to go to UCLA. It didn't work out. Luckily, I landed in west Lafayette. I don't regret that at all. Obviously, I created a family with these guys, guys in the locker room, my coaching staff, even the fans at Purdue. So it's been a great experience. After not getting into UCLA, obviously, there was some doubt in what was going to happen, and like I said, I was blessed with the opportunity to be a Boilermaker, and I'm satisfied with that for sure.

Q. Jon and A.J., I know both of you guys visited Cincinnati and were considering that as a possibility before choosing Purdue. Can you talk about that and how interested you were in possibly going to Cincinnati?
JON OCTEUS: I built somewhat of a decent relationship with the coaches at Cincinnati through my recruiting process, after determining that I was going to leave Colorado State. Just, obviously, went in a different direction. I did end up at Purdue instead of Cincinnati. I made a decision, and I don't really understand how to answer the question any differently than that.

A.J. HAMMONS: Personally, I don't really know how to answer that question. They're a great program. I had fun on my visit and everything. They were one of my top schools I was thinking about going to, but in the end, it all came down to family, and it was close to home. So I chose Purdue.

Q. When you have a team that doesn't have NCAA Tournament experience as a group, what are some of the things that you try to emphasize for them that are most important going into that first game?
COACH PAINTER: I think just sticking with what our guys are -- the strengths that they have going in to the game. I think, if you sit around and talk about the big picture and not talk about the actual game, you bring it into play. We have one guy with NCAA Tournament experience but not at Purdue. I would say the best thing for us is the fact that we've lived on the bubble here for three weeks. I think that preparation and kind of that pressure, if you want to say that, is the best thing to help us because we're a loss, two losses away from not being here, which everybody that's in this neck of the woods, they can say the same thing. But for us, when we don't have that type of experience, I think that's really helped us. But really just keeping our focus on playing to our strengths and trying to stay away from our weaknesses.

Q. Does it help, coming from the Big Ten where defense is such a premium, to play a team like Cincinnati that does so many things well, similar to you on the defensive side of the ball?
COACH PAINTER: I think that's a great point because they do have a lot of similarities to people we play. Like ourselves, defense is important. They are different when they play their matchups zone a lot. And they really make it difficult for you to get into a rhythm on the offensive end. But in terms of playing hard, playing physical, and rebounding the basketball, they are a Big Ten team, and they are a top half Big Ten team. I think it just goes all the way back to the days of Coach Huggins and obviously Coach Cronin. When you think about Cincinnati basketball, that's what you think about. You think about hard-nosed, tough, rebounding, attack you on the offensive end. We have to be prepared for that.

Q. What was it like having two big posts like that? How much did they push each other? How much flexibility did that give you? It's kind of unusual in college basketball, isn't it?
COACH PAINTER: For us, it was great because we don't have to change how we play with a substitute. You're not as worried about foul trouble because you have another guy and a productive guy. So that's -- we really try to emphasize playing inside out and getting them deep touches, and then those guys being able to make good decisions from there. Sometimes when we've struggled offensively, it's because of their decision making, and their getting the ball a little bit too far out away from the rim. We've just got to keep focusing on getting them deeper touches and then helping them once people give them different looks. No, it's a blessing. There's no doubt about that, that we're able to have both those 7-footers.

Q. Mick Cronin has referred to you as a good friend this week. Could you talk about your relationship with him and also the job you think Larry Davis has done filling in this year.
COACH PAINTER: Mick is a good guy, and he's worked really hard. You look at the success they've had with five straight NCAA Tournament experiences, but it just wasn't in his first year. He had to build it to get it back and get it going once again. He's able to do that with his type of guy. You see the toughness level in those guys, and you look at (Gary) Clark, and you kind of see Eric Hicks. You look at each kind of guys, if you followed Cincinnati basketball, you could see a guy who's real similar to somebody in the past that's been familiar or similar to someone that Coach Hugg had or Mick had or just that toughness. I think, when you look at a Purdue type player, a Cincinnati type player, they've got to have that toughness, first and foremost, and then you can work on other tangibles. Mick's done an unbelievable job, and for what Larry Davis has had to go through with this group, there's nothing in the manual for it. You've got to trust your instincts as a coach, but yet you want to do the best you can for your guy. He's been with Mick the whole time. That's his guy. And he wants to see Cincinnati win. But you still got to coach the team. It's a tough thing, and it looks like they've handled it beautifully. Hopefully Mick can get healthy and be back on the sidelines next year.

Q. You've had lulls in the offense from time to time this year. Does that put a premium on finding whoever's got the hot hand tomorrow against such a good defensive team?
COACH PAINTER: I think so, but they zone, and they do a good job of adjusting when someone's got a hot hand and then taking that person away. Especially if it's a shooter. They do a good job of maybe shading that guy or really knowing where he's at when he cuts through the defense. We have to do a good job of having a balance of our scoring in terms of still getting some low post touches against the zone, using our dribble sometimes, getting some guys for some jump shots, and not just settling for those jump shots. And stealing points. It's tough to get fast break points against them. It's tough to get offensive putbacks against them. But we're going to have to be able to sprinkle in some of those points in those areas because, if you just have to grind it against them and the only thing you have to do is score in the half-court, they've proven they've been pretty successful there.

Q. When you hear or read people talk about how the game's too slow, the game is not offensive enough, all those things, and they have these suggestions of how to fix that, if that is a problem, how do you react to that? Is there a certain style that you play or that Cincinnati plays or other teams?
COACH PAINTER: I think it doesn't change how many times somebody's going to make a shot. You might have more possessions, but you're going to have the same percentages, per se. I'd like to see it go through a trial period, maybe for exempt events, things of that nature. We're given a theory without statistical data, and we all know that could end up being a nightmare. We don't want to do that. We're not just painting a line for a three-point line and say, hey, we're going to make this adjustment and add a point. The three-point line has been used before. It was used in professional basketball. You have data. And now you have data with the shot clock, whether it's professional play or NBA play. They act like that's a fix. I think it helps it to a bit where to a degree you're going to score the basketball more because you're going to have more possessions, but it doesn't change the quality of play. I've coached that in international basketball. You have to be quick but not hurting. You have to be on the move a little bit more, and you have to be more efficient. I think in theory it probably will help some, to some degree, but I'd like to be able to see that kind of a platform first to get some data from college teams. I think that would help get kind of closer to our answer. [ I think where he said professional basketball, he really said international basketball ].

Q. You have a young team with not a lot of tournament experience. Do you think that they have the right level of maturity to handle all the uniqueness that this week brings?
COACH PAINTER: I hope so. You find out at tip-off. You've played -- we've played a good schedule. We've played in Maui on a neutral court. We've been in the Big Ten Tournament, obviously, in two games on a neutral court. So you try to do your best to prepare your team. I like our guys. I think we have stuck together. We've faced some adversity. We've been able to battle that. We've been able to overcome a couple of tough losses nonconference, and we played better in conference play. I spoke on it earlier, but getting on the bubble, I think, is the best way to try to fight some of that. You know that you have to win, getting into the end of February, the beginning of March, and then you come in and get really good wins right there, I think that helps prepare you. There's no substitute for the actual thing. We have a lot of guys outside of one that hasn't been here. You still have to play hard. You still have to produce. You still have to do those things. But I do understand your question.

Q. Matt, as a player, is there a moment that sticks out from the NCAA Tournament that you remember that really is the highlight when you remember back to those days?
COACH PAINTER: We didn't have too many great NCAA experiences. We got knocked out a couple times in the first round. Just the heart ache when you lose. I didn't play on the team. They went to the Elite Eight the year after I left. So I wasn't on those teams right there with Glenn Robinson in his last year. Just everything you put into it, and it's difficult. Everybody's good. That's what I really try to share with guys when you get in the NCAA Tournament. If you're just happy about being here, you're getting ready to go home. You have to understand everybody is just like you. Nobody just kind of finds their way into the NCAA Tournament. You earn your way into the NCAA Tournament. Really my experience, I wish it was more of a positive one, but it's not. But being able to participate in three NCAA Tournaments, but I would like to have more wins than I do. But sharing that heart ache with guys. Don't feel that way and say, hey, we're not going to let this happen next year. You've got to feel that way right now and understand that you have to have a sense of urgency, and you have to be productive.
FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports
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