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March 16, 2017

Matt Painter

Caleb Swanigan

Vincent Edwards

Milwaukee, Wisconsin

Purdue - 80, Vermont - 70

THE MODERATOR: Joined by Purdue Head Coach, Matt Painter and student-athletes, Caleb Swanigan and Vincent Edwards. Coach, we'll ask you to please make an opening statement, and then we'll take questions for the student-athletes.

COACH PAINTER: Well, I felt that really the difference in the game came to the start of the second half. I thought we had a lot of energy. I thought Vince got us off to a good start and then our ability not to turn the ball over and give ourselves a chance in the second half. We had a couple turnovers in the second half. We were able to maintain our edge, and I really thought that was the difference in the game.

Our guys, you know, answered every one of their runs by either going inside, knocking down 3s, and they were a good team. One of the best teams we've faced all year. Very, very balanced. Can do a lot of different things and just a really good basketball team. This was a huge win for us.

THE MODERATOR: Thank you, Coach. Questions for the student-athletes, please.

Q. Caleb, you've played with toughness always. It seemed like you were especially fierce on the boards and kind of blocking shots today. Did something get into you?
CALEB SWANIGAN: I didn't have any fouls. I just blocked the shots when I saw the opportunity.

Q. Vince, how is this feeling different than the past couple of years?
VINCE EDWARDS: We won. That's the difference right there. To go out two years, just -- this being my third year, going out two years, this is terrible. To get this and get that monkey off your back, it feels great.

Q. What was difficult for you in the second half? Coach Painter alluded to it. 8 points to start off and went on to lead the team in scoring.
VINCE EDWARDS: Honestly, I was just getting myself -- trying to get myself together, just trying to calm myself down. I was frustrated with myself, just being really hard on myself. Just coming out in the second half, just told myself to calm down and play. And my teammates did a good job of finding me and getting the open shots.

Q. Vince, this team does really well when you're aggressive. Is that something you set out to do from the onset of this game?
VINCE EDWARDS: It's something I have to take when it's there. Coach Painter teaches being patiently aggressive. That's definitely something I keep in mind and keep in consideration and try not to force anything. Take what the defense gives me.

Q. Vince, how personally did you take it, especially couple years ago that Cincinnati game?
VINCE EDWARDS: I mean, that thing -- both of those games just replayed in my head all year, even though we had seasons to play. I still could replay it almost every last three, four possessions, in each of those games. So to come out here, I just really wanted the win. And I can tell the guys in this locker room I'm surrounded and my coaches wanted to win. So we were able to pull it out.

Q. Caleb, just that second half for you guys, what do you think worked well?
CALEB SWANIGAN: Just really anything we were running. We just had to execute it, and if we run it right, it usually worked.

Q. Vince, you talked about the pain of those last two years. When you've gone through those experiences, does the mental focus become a little bit sharper down the stretch? Granted, you guys had a bit of a cushion. Vermont was making a game. Does the mental toughness and sharpness get a little more clear as you go down the stretch making sure there aren't upset or mistakes to let people back in the game?
VINCE EDWARDS: When you have been through this as many times as we have, especially the junior class, it sharpens you. We kind of tell ourselves down the stretch that we've been here, we've been here, so we know what to do. We got to be smart and execute and we'll be fine.

Q. Caleb, you guys have talked about how you were going to be defined by this NCAA Tournament and kind of how it went. How important is this one?
CALEB SWANIGAN: It's important, but after today it's not important and it's the next game. That's just how we're going to approach it.

THE MODERATOR: Anything else for the student-athletes? All right, guys. Thank you.

Questions for Coach Painter, please.

Q. Matt, nothing to do with the game. You know Tom Cream got fired today. Can I just get your thoughts on that?
COACH PAINTER: You know, it's difficult anytime one of your colleagues or anybody in your league or just in coaching, it's a tough profession and, you know, you feel for somebody. You work hard and to be successful and you put your best foot forward and then you want to make things work and you also want to finish the job, keep going. When they part ways, it's a difficult thing, but it's part of coaching.

And I think Hubie Brown is the one who said you officially become a coach once you get fired for the first time. You go into it knowing it's probably going to happen to you at least once, maybe two, three times and -- but, you know, it's unfortunate.

Q. Matt, you had a Vermont team that kept coming at you and coming at you. You've had guys that have had some heartbreaks here in the tournament. Were you able to see the growth and maturity from your guys in the stretch, every time Vermont got close they seemed to have an answer for it, sign of growing up?
COACH PAINTER: Sometimes, you know, playing hard and making shots and you play hard and you miss shots sometimes. Lot of people want to know what's wrong. There's nothing wrong. It's a really good team out there. This could have went either way. Vermont is a really good basketball team. They made some tough shots. They made some tough plays. We obviously made a little bit more. I think we had a matchup on the interior. Lamb, he was giving us trouble and they didn't make as many 3s, and Steidl going out didn't help them. But, you know, Vermont is a really good basketball team. Our guys did show some maturity down the stretch and making plays and getting stops and Swanigan made some huge blocks there at the end. We came up with some loose balls. We still had a couple breakdowns. Fouled a 3-point shooter and had a bad switch. That cost us some points.

Q. Coach, talk about, if you could, talk about Carsen Edwards. To have a freshman that's that unflappable, that young, coming into an environment like this and just -- I mean granted, kind of at that time good with the bad with him, but the mindset that he has, there's no fear there. How does that rub off on his older teammates and how important is he going into the rest of this tournament?
COACH PAINTER: It's great for us. Gives us somebody that can break people down all off the dribble, can make a pull up, make a pull up 3. He gives us a different look and gives us some speed, and combined with that skill, that's a tough matchup. So when you can bring a guy like him off the bench and the experience of Spike Albrecht to go along with the size of Isaac Haas, we have a pretty good eight right there.

No, it doesn't matter. It could have been an open gym game and he would have the same numbers. The environment and things around him doesn't phase him. But the thing I like about it, basketball is important and he looks forward to games like this.

Q. When the game started, there was obviously a feeling-out period for both teams, given the size discrepancy. How do you think your guys adjusted to the way that they run their offense and the amount of motion that they have, because they did draw out the big guys at certain times.
COACH PAINTER: We wanted to switch a little bit of it. But we also wanted to get back on a couple of their guys. They forced us to change. We love keeping our big guys at home, but sometimes we'll end up switching. We just had a different matchup. We put our 5 on Wills and then we switched everything else out and kept a low man at home if they tried to play the mismatch and post us up.

They're a good team. Anytime you have size that can drive the ball and shoot the basketball from the perimeter, it gives 7-footers and 6-10, 250-pound guys a little pit of an issue. You're going to have a downside no matter what you do. It's just the fact about now you want to be able to live with that downside, and we thought that was the best way to do it and allow us to rebound.

Q. It's a big day for Cuonzo Martin. Obviously, you've been very busy as he has, but have you had a chance to talk to him about it and what was your reaction when you heard the news about it?
COACH PAINTER: I didn't talk to him about why he did it. I just texted him and congratulated him. There's always -- you know, the place that you're at and the place you're going, you have personal and professional reasons why you make those decisions. He didn't share those with me.

He'll do great once he gets a bunch of players, like anybody else. There is no such thing as a great coach and average players. You got to get really good players in a really good league. He's coached in Missouri Valley, he's coached in the Big Ten, he's coached in the SEC, the PAC-12. He understands what it he takes to win and -- but, you know, you got to also, you know, you got to have the guys, and that might take a couple years before you can get to that point.

Q. P.J. Thompson had an opportunity in the Big Ten tournament the hit a free throw. He said afterwards, "Just watch, I'm going to hit a couple shots." After that 3-pointer, he kind of looked towards the bench and shook his head. What was it like to see him kind of get a little bit of redemption?
COACH PAINTER: Biggy made a good play. When you're a great player like Swanigan, being able to trust your teammates and sometimes he'll make plays and try to step through double teams. When you get doubled, you got to pass the basketball. I though he made a great read and P.J. stepped up and made that shot. I thought he made some really nice plays for us the whole night. I thought our backcourt did that.

It's good, you know. It's a hard thing when you go through it and something breaks down and you play and you lose a game, it's disappointing and hurts. You want to get back out there and, you know, do some positive things and help your team win and he did that.

THE MODERATOR: Anything else for Coach? All right. Thank you. Good luck Saturday.


FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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