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October 19, 2017

Matt Painter

Madison Square Garden - New York, New York

THE MODERATOR: Next up is Purdue head coach Matt Painter.

COACH PAINTER: Obviously we had a really good summer this year. I think it's probably the one thing for us that was great. Losing such a quality player in Caleb Swanigan, for us to be able to represent the U.S.A. in the World University Games and get a lot of practices in and play a lot of quality opponents in Taiwan, I think, has really helped us as practice has started.

So obviously looking forward to the season. I think we have a lot of guys that can really shoot the basketball and play and have a lot of experience.

And I think it's been very beneficial to have a lot of big guys. But with that being said, I think Isaac Haas has been a guy that's never been the go-to guy for us down low since we've had A.J. Hammons, we've had Caleb Swanigan. And I think for him to have a breakout year for us this year would really help, to go along with a versatile all-conference guy like Vince Edwards, a guy like Dakota Mathias, who's to me an all-conference player with his value on both ends of the court.

And then the leadership of P.J. Thompson, with the best assist-to-turnover ratio in the history of our school. So it's a great place to start.

Carsen Edwards played on two U.S.A. teams this summer and had a lot of experience there. Ryan Cline started for us last year. And we've had some guys that give us depth, freshmen, and a couple of experienced guys that really played well on our trip.

So we're excited for the season. And I think our ability to shoot is probably the number one thing that jumps out. But we're going to have to be able to compete on both ends if we're going to be in a good position at the end of February.

Q. Why were you such an advocate for the protected in-state rivalries, beyond what it means for Purdue, I guess what it means for the conference overall?
COACH PAINTER: Obviously when it comes to rivalry you're thinking about yourself. Do I think it's good for our conference? Yes. But I think it's more beneficial to Indiana and Purdue when I'm thinking about that and our fans.

The fans want to see that in our state. Both schools want to see that. Our players want to see it. It's a long list of people that it benefits in the state of Indiana.

But I think within conferences, I think rivalries like that that have been going on for a long time, I think those are very good, not just our rivalry but Michigan-Michigan State, and some other people.

And so it's just one of those things where when you see your fans and they talk about it, it makes no sense to them why you're not playing twice a year. And you can sit there and talk about an unbalanced schedule, you can talk about 14 teams. That doesn't make sense to them.

They just want to see Indiana and Purdue play at least twice a year and hopefully connect in the Big Ten Tournament. Because I think we share -- I think Purdue people share the same thoughts about that as Indiana people do.

We finally found something we agreed upon. So hopefully that's the case and we can continue to do that here on out.

Q. You mentioned how the rivalries, a lot of it you think a little selfishly how that benefits. What about coming here? You spent a lot of time at Purdue and a lot of time playing Big Ten Tournaments in the Midwest. What does it mean to Purdue and you to come here?
COACH PAINTER: I think for us the Big Ten originally is a Midwestern league and now it's not. We moved with the additions of other schools on the East Coast and you've got to come here.

You just can't have people in your league and the only time you come here is when you play at Maryland or at Rutgers or at Penn State.

So I was playing when Penn State joined the Big Ten. You have to be able to be visible. And obviously being able to come here and play the tournament here is the right thing to do. It's the right thing for those schools, but it's also the right thing for our conference. We're excited about it.

And the ability to play in venues such as this, it was pretty cool. Our guys get excited about -- they don't take a step back and say, hey, I wish I was in Indy or I wish I was in Chicago. They get excited about playing. We were excited about playing last year. It's a basketball game.

We don't set the rules but we go by them. But I do think it's the right thing to do.

Q. It goes back a little ways, but you had experience at Southern Illinois where you had the week off in between the conference tournament and then the NCAA Tournament. With the Big Ten making the change this year, your thoughts on just the difference between those two?
COACH PAINTER: Well, obviously it's something you have to adjust to. But I don't think it's anything huge. It's not a huge adjustment. Obviously you're going to have that week off and hopefully it's that week off where you feel comfortable about getting into the NCAA Tournament.

Obviously when you have -- the week off more at that level, at Southern Illinois we went sixth straight years, counting Coach Weber's two years and my one year as head coach and then Chris Lowery's was the head coach for three years. When you look at that and you're helping build a program as an assistant, people don't realize those six years they got five at-larges.

So you wait in that week to see, are we getting in? And if you feel good about it and you're right there on the bubble you still get nervous as teams start to get beat and everything.

I think that's probably the only thing that's really different. People always talk about that week. But it's basketball. You recruit these guys and they play a lot of basketball.

They'll play three games in one day. And so like we never play three games in one day anymore. And so like they're not the same quality of games that they're playing in college. But it's still these guys grow up playing. They play a lot of games.

For us to be able to condense some things and be able to finish our season a week earlier, I don't think it's that big a deal. It's something we had to do to get the venue. So sometimes you have to do some things necessary and play some games in December. But to me it's just a basketball game; it's not that big a deal.

Q. You have four seniors here. Just what do you think the value of that experience is going to be come this season?
COACH PAINTER: I think we have -- people always talk about experience, but I think what's more important than that is the experience of having success together. That's more important. A lot of people say, hey, we have a bunch of seniors. But, yeah, have you won with them? We've gotten third in our league their freshman and sophomore year. And obviously last year we were able to win the league.

So they've had a lot of success together. And I think that's more important than anything. And so we're excited about playing this season, but we also know we lost a really good player, and he brought a lot of mental and physical toughness to our team.

I think those guys are going to be able to have to those qualities for us to be successful. And I think we have a great non-conference schedule to go along with playing at Maryland and Northwestern in December.

So it's going to be a challenge. When you have those types of challenges, you know, you would much rather have experienced players, especially talented ones like we have.

Q. Through your basketball experiences have you seen foreign tours make a difference with teams? And do you ever worry that it might tire you out eventually as you go on?
COACH PAINTER: I think the foreign tours that everybody traditionally goes on are the 10 practices, then you play four or five games. The thing that I really like about those trips is the bonding, the guys being together. I like that piece of it.

I like the educational piece of it. You go to Italy. You go to Spain. I think that's good. But then the competition at that time is not great. A lot of people -- a lot of us go on those trips in early August and it just isn't.

So that's what's missing out of the equation. You would rather have -- you have 10 practices -- I think what's good about it is your incoming guys now have a little bit of experience of being around the coaching staff, the terminology, the system. And so now when they do start, now the end of September, they've got a little bit of a head start.

Sure they have two hours a week and those workouts and that's really not that much, but I think it really benefits. I don't think it wears you out. Guys play year-round, whether they're with you or not with you, especially you get guys -- I always say about the Big Ten, it's one of the best conferences in America. If you're able to get a scholarship there and you're able to work towards being a starter and you have a chance to be all-conference, you should start thinking about being a pro.

And a pro works on his game. A pro puts a lot of time in, and a pro is normally a 12-month guy. So those are the things that you're really looking for.

In terms of burning out -- the thing we were worried about our trip this year was different because you represent your country. So you don't have those limitations. You can practice as much as you want. So we're getting 25 to 30 practices, eight real games, two exhibitions -- which we played Canada, which was a good team.

Then we had one scrimmage versus Norway. We had 11 games, 30 practices this summer. And so that's different than the traditional one that we did the year before where we had the 10 practices and we went overseas and we didn't play great competition.

But we all try to play the best competition we can on those trips. It's just really hard to do that. I don't believe in that. I don't believe in guys getting worn out. Even though I didn't practice longer than two hours in any of my stuff because that was my thinking in my mind, like, man, there's no way we're going to go and try to win this gold medal and that's going to be our key goal when we get judged on what we do in March.


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