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March 15, 2017
THE MODERATOR: Please welcome Purdue student-athletes, Caleb Swanigan and Dakota Mathias. Questions, please.
Q. For both players, can you guys just break down Vermont a little bit. What are the biggest matchup issues you feel like you have to deal with tomorrow?
CALEB SWANIGAN: They're hot right now and playing good basketball. We got to be ready for everything.
DAKOTA MATHIAS: I agree. 1 through 5, they can all shoot pretty well. They're very mobile. I think keeping the ball in front of us and making it tough on them in the perimeter is going to be the biggest key.
Q. They have a couple guys in the front court who can step out and shoot a little bit. What sort of matchup concern is that?
DAKOTA MATHIAS: I think lately we've been dealing with that a lot playing Vermont's team. We've been working on it a lot. It's a problem. At the same time, we have to flip it on them and make them hurt us in our size down low.
Q. We're finally here at the end of the season. Can you guys just talk about how you feel. Are you ready? Excited? Just anxious?
CALEB SWANIGAN: Really just ready to get on the court. Been preparing to go out last few days. Just ready to get on the court and play.
Q. When you watch them in advance of this game, does the game last year matter at all?
DAKOTA MATHIAS: No, I don't think so. We're a different team, different personnel. They're a different team and they're fairly hot right now, won 21 in a row. I don't think it matters very much.
Q. Dakota, your team gets a lot of attention for the front court. The 3-point shot has been a huge weapon. How big of a part of your offense is the ability to shoot from outside?
DAKOTA MATHIAS: It's definitely a big part. Takes a lot of pressure off them. The reason we get the looks is because Issac is getting down low, that's the way we play, inside out. We're lucky they're -- they can pass the ball and see out of double teams and move the ball.
Q. Caleb, with as well as you played this season, what has it been like to go through the entire year with people talking about you as a Player of the Year candidate and all of the accolades that come with such a strong season?
CALEB SWANIGAN: Trying to stay focused on one game. That's how you kind of tune it out, make sure you're focusing on the next game.
Q. Dakota, you mentioned they're different from last year. How are they different from last year?
DAKOTA MATHIAS: Anytime you win 21 games in a row, some things are going to be different the way you approach the game. Their offense, they can all shoot the ball. Got a lot of veteran guys on the court. They're very versatile. Even their 4 and 5, like you said, they can pick and pop and shoot it and drive it to the hole. Just a different matchup than it was.
Q. They don't have a lot of size, at least looking at the roster. What do you see on film in terms of things maybe you can take advantage of around the basket?
CALEB SWANIGAN: Same thing as any game. I'm going to do the same thing. Really doesn't change how I approach the game.
Q. I know Spike hasn't played a ton of minutes this year. Can you draw on anything from him, given the fact he's made a deep run and played in a National Championship game? Can you offer any advice?
DAKOTA MATHIAS: Definitely a lot of advice. He's been through it. Down the stretch here the last four or five games, he's really improved and he's been a big part coming off the bench bringing energy and poise when we need it most. Playing in these games before, it doesn't bother him. That calming factor is going to be huge for us.
Q. Caleb, I don't know if it's been asked or not, I was wondering if you would comment on being named the BIG TEN Player of the Year and and what that means to you?
CALEB SWANIGAN: It means a lot. Really, just as I said before, I'm just focused on Vermont, haven't spent much time thinking about any accolades. I'm just focusing on when it's the next game.
THE MODERATOR: Anything else for the student-athletes?
Q. For both you guys, after last year's loss to Little Rock in the NCAA Tournament, do you feel like that's one of the games that's really motivated you this year to get back to this point?
DAKOTA MATHIAS: Absolutely. Anytime you lose a game like that that you probably shouldn't and the way we lost it, it always motivates you. Any loss is going to motivate you, but especially when you end your season like that, it hurts a little more.
CALEB SWANIGAN: It's something we've had in the back of our minds until now.
THE MODERATOR: All right. Thanks, guys. Good luck tomorrow.
Questions for Purdue Head Coach, Matt Painter, please.
Q. Coach, can you guys learn anything or is there anything that you are applying to prepare for this game from the game you guys played last year against Vermont?
COACH PAINTER: I don't think so. Anytime you play home games, especially really early in the season teams are trying to figure themselves out, and obviously them going on the road and having to travel and, you know, we didn't have one of our main guys, AJ Hammons, in that game. But from watching them play this year and watching that game, they've come a long way. You can also watch them early in the year this year and say the same thing.
Anytime you have to play those guaranteed games, there's a lot of things stacked up against you. I've been on both ends of that one. I'm really impressed with Vermont's balance. A lot of time when you play teams, you play a team such as Vermont that's had success, they've won 21 straight games, and say we got to stop these two guys and we stop Vermont, and you can't say that.
They have very, very good balance. They have guys that come off the bench for them that have started in the past. They have guys that come off the bench for them that are 6th man of the year this year and 6th man of the year last year, defensive player this year, you know, MVP of their league starting, All Conference guys.
People always say experience is the most important. It's not. The experience of having success is the most important. They feel good about themselves and they play with that kind of swagger. That wasn't really the way I looked at them last year when I played them. It was early and tough, but that's definitely the way they are now.
Q. Matt, what has Spike Albrecht brought to your team both on and off the court, and is he in a position now where maybe he gets a little more playing time?
COACH PAINTER: Spike has been great. He's definitely helped us off the court with the experiences he's had at Michigan and just trying to get as healthy as he can get. Obviously he had a setback and missed some games earlier in the year. Whenever his number has been called, you know, he's been ready to play. I think in the last two, three weeks he's played his best basketball for us.
But it is difficult. You reference the minutes. It's hard to really, you know, be productive when you play 10 to 15 minutes a game all the time because you're getting in and out of the game and play short minutes. He's been as productive as anybody we've had that's been in that type of position.
Yeah, there's no doubt our staff, we have confidence. If he needs to play more for us to be successful, you know, we'll do so.
Q. Matt, Caleb was pretty modest about winning the award as BIG TEN Player of the Year. Would you be kind enough to elaborate what he's meant to your team and your program?
COACH PAINTER: Well, anytime you have someone who gives you everything everyday, he puts in a lot of extra time, he's had to really work, you know, not just improving from a basketball sense but just his body, you know. He spends a lot of time in the weight room, spends a lot of time making sure his diet is where it needs to be for him to have success.
He moves so much better this year. He's got a great mind. He's got good hands, good feet, knows what's going on on the court. At times he couldn't get from A to B. That's kind of the wide body, below-the-rim-type guy. Now he moves so much better. And so now he can take that basketball IQ along with his improved skill level and he really puts people in a bind.
I've really enjoyed being round him because it sets a bar in terms for everybody else, in terms of basketball is important to him and he's worked really hard to be in the position that he is, but his team won. We have a lot of good players in the BIG TEN. He's separated himself with his consistency but also that his team won the league.
Q. What's the best way for you to attack Vermont's defense?
COACH PAINTER: We kind of approach the game more about us instead of our opponent. They have to be able to matchup, you know, to us and we've seen a lot of different looks this year in terms about how people are going to handle us when the ball goes inside. We play through our low post. Lot of people don't do that as much. They throw it in the low post but not as much as we do.
So, we know that they're going to do a good job of trying to fight us and not let us get the catch where we want to get the catch. We got to do a good job of preventing them from doing that and getting the ball with the deep catches. Being ready for what they're going to do in terms of once we do it, whether they stay one-on-one, double somebody else, scrape off the side, come weak side. There's only so much that you can do in those situations, but we've seen a lot and we've had some success, obviously, handling it, but we've also had some failure at times.
It's hard sometimes when people swarm you, but when they -- we really circled those two big guys with a lot of guys that can shoot, that's been our goal as a staff to have that compliment. So no matter what Vermont is going to do, we take what the defense gives us and just try to be simple. I know that's profound. Really, just be simple. If you're one-on-one, score the basketball. If you're not, pass the basketball. Dig them in deeper or get in a rotation and play off that rotation.
Q. Have you found it at all necessary to address the failures of the last two years with this team? Do they feel a lot of pressure, given what happened the last two years?
COACH PAINTER: I think pressure is something you feel when you're not prepared. Our team is prepared. There was another team out there that won those games that we played in. We lost them, but there was two other teams out there that won those games and made good plays. So the people that have been here for both of them -- we've had to sit in it. And anytime you have to sit in it, you don't have to address it.
We know what we have to do to get back to this spot and make the improvements, and we've done that. Now we got to play a little bit better. We've got to be one possession better than the past two years.
But it is a heart-breaker. No doubt. You work so hard to get to this spot, and it's disappointing when you put yourself in position to win and you don't. The only thing you can do about it is fight like hell to get back here. We've done that. Hopefully, we can play one possession better than we have in the past.
Q. Coach, what do you make of Vermont's freshman Anthony Lamb?
COACH PAINTER: He's good, he's really good. Lot of times you get those guys at a low to mid level, you don't get someone that strong that early. They got to develop at being that strong. So anytime you get those guys, they normally can't take you off the bounce when they're that strong.
So I've coached at Eastern Illinois and Southern Illinois. So I've got a little bit of pulse on the guys. He can drive and shoot the ball, he can post. He can cave you in on the glass. So, he's got, you know, big-time strength, but he's a good player. Lot of times you get those guys that are just brutes and strong, but they're so-so players. He's a hell of a player. He can hurt you in a lot of different ways.
Q. Coach, how important will it be for your guys to get off to a good start and maybe tell Vermont you really don't belong in this building here in the Midwest, maybe get through the first two media timeouts and --
COACH PAINTER: They've proven that. Anyone who wins 21 straight games belongs in any building when it comes to the NCAA Tournament. They have the longest winning streak in this tournament. They've earned the right to be here. For us sometimes when we get off to great starts, it's hurt us. Sometimes we get off to bad starts, it helps us. That doesn't make a whole lot of sense, but if you watch enough basketball, you kind of see the pendulum swing sometimes.
For us, it's trying to make the right play and let the game come to us and keeping things simple. When you look at these type of games, people will look at one team versus the other team. And when you get on a neutral court, there's not a whole lot of difference.
We have more size than than them. They have really good guard placement. You can go back and forth, but everybody is good in the NCAA Tournament. Nobody messed up and kind of landed here and got lucky. Everybody has earned the right to be here. For us, it's trying to keep it simple and really worry about us. No matter if we were playing Vermont or the overall No. 1 seed, it's about us worrying about us and keeping things simple.
Q. You alluded to this earlier, but you guys are known for your front court, but how much part of the game is your ability to shoot the 3 and how key will that be?
COACH PAINTER: It's going to be huge, because when you go into a game like this, you don't have a lot of film watching them play people like us. You know what I mean? They don't play a lot of people like us that play through the low post. So you go look at their games they've played, Butler, South Carolina, Providence, those teams aren't like us. We're a little bit different than those guys, even though Butler throws the ball inside.
But, you know, I think that's going to be key, you know, for us more than anything is that good guard placement taking care of the basketball, taking good shots. Like I said, sometimes we'll shoot 10 to 15 3s. Sometimes we'll shoot over 20 3s. It's not us coming to the game and say let's take more 3s this game.
Like I said earlier, keeping the things simple. Letting the defense kind of predict what we're going to do, and then just playing from there. I think when you do that, you play through your instincts and then you have less turnovers and you have higher percentage jump shots.
Q. Matt, what are some of the points of emphasis as far as guarding Vermont? What kind of things do you need to do?
COACH PAINTER: Just keeping the ball in front of us. I think anytime they do a good job of breaking you down and getting in the paint and getting to the rim, now it kind of opens up because you get into rotation in terms of helping. So I think that's probably the most important thing for us is to keep them in front of us and not allow angles.
They got to be able to score over us. When they're getting by you and breaking you down and posting up or driving, they're pretty successful because they got guys like Steidl and Ernie Duncan who can shoot the basketball. The other guys are good. The other guys are definitely capable of hurting you. That's something for us. If we keep the ball in front of us, now they don't get as clean as looks. They're going to get some looks. You want to able to challenge those shots.
Q. They've got a lot of Indiana kids. Did you recruit any of those guys, Dre Wills or any of the others?
COACH PAINTER: Ernie Duncan, a little bit. We recruited Josh Speidel, obviously. They've done a good job. You'll find some different teams across the country that will do it, have three, four guys from the State of Indiana. It's definitely going to help you. Like Dre wills is such a competitor. He played hard, will come at you and defend. Tough. Basketball, you can say, it's important to him. The whole Duncan family are basketball players and guys that have been around it a long time coming from Evansville. Ernie is a just a good player. He can play off the dribble, shoot 3s, he can drive it. He's a competitive kid, good player.
Q. I think when you look at Vermont's roster, Caleb has 25, 30 pounds on any guy on their team. When you look that the type of a matchup where somebody is either much bigger or stronger or the opposite, are there things you talk about with that player so they don't do too much to exploit something that looks too obvious.
COACH PAINTER: That's a good question. When you think you have a mismatch, it's not you and that guy. It's you versus the other team. They have built-in help. They're going to double you, things of that nature. If it was one-on-one, then I'd feel really good about it. Because he is a tough matchup when you stay one-on-one. Haas is a really tough matchup one-on-one. They're going to come with help. Everybody does something at some point to give them different looks to try to bottle them up a little bit.
We just -- I'm saying the same thing over and over, but I say the same thing. The game, it's repetition and what happens in the low post and what happens with those guys a lot is people mix things up, you know, they double from different places, they do different things. And so we always tell them keep it simple. If you're one-on-one, score. If you're not, you got to pass the ball. Don't play through the double. When we do that, we turn the ball over. When you have two really big guys on the court and you turn it over, they're the last two getting down to the other end.
Q. Have you picked Chris Holtmann's brain at all because they played them early this year?
COACH PAINTER: I watched the tape.
THE MODERATOR: Anything else for Coach? Thank you. Good luck tomorrow.
COACH PAINTER: Thank you.
FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports