March 19, 2022
Milwaukee, Wisconsin, USA
MODERATOR: Good afternoon. We'll be joined by Purdue student-athletes Jaden Ivey, Eric Hunter and Mason Gillis.
Questions for the student-athletes, please.
Q. Jaden, I'll begin with you. We saw the graphic that Purdue put out last night and it had your name next to Big Dog. We've drawn those comparisons all year long, I think since your career started, but over 20 points in two NCAA Tournament games. What does that mean to you to have your name mentioned along the likes of Ben Robinson?
JADEN IVEY: Honestly, it's just an honor to be recognized with some of the greats at Purdue. You know, I'm just thankful to just be in this position. I put a lot of work in it to be here and to be at Purdue, so I'm just very thankful and humbled.
Q. For Jaden and Eric, just in the scouting you guys have gotten in the last few hours, what are your early impressions of the Texas guards and how tough they guard people in the perimeter?
JADEN IVEY: They're very tough, especially offensively. They got some tough guards that can get a bucket. As far as the Big 12, it's a physical conference, so I'm already knowing they're going to be very physical come tomorrow. We just got to be ready for it. And we've been in some physical battles all year, so we just got to embrace it.
Q. Eric, obviously this will be probably the, what, third, fourth, fifth time you've had to guard Marcus Carr? Can you kind of break him down a little bit, how much has your experience with him helped you going into this?
ERIC HUNTER: I think it will help me a lot, but players change and people get better, so just being able to touch up on newer film and also watching the past couple times that I've played him, it will be important for me. He's a good player, so it will be a tough matchup.
Q. For Jaden and Mason primarily, can you talk a little bit about Trevion's passing ability; what he does in practice, what he does in games and how he's developed it?
MASON GILLIS: I think he's always been a great passer, ever since he was little, middle school, high school. He has a gift for it. He is a very unselfish person, so I think that helps on the basketball court. We've been telling him to just go get buckets and just trust his instinct to pass second, so whatever he does that, his natural ability shows.
Q. For Jaden, I imagine you're pretty zoned into your own game right now, but will you have time to watch your mom's team tonight? And also, I was just wondering when she sends you a text or something after a game, does she critique your play or does she just say "nice game," or what's it generally like when she kind of responds to how you played yesterday?
JADEN IVEY: I'm definitely going to be tuned in tonight. Very excited for her, her first March Madness. I know she's pretty geeked up for it. You know, I know when I have games, have bad games, whether I have good games or not, she always says. "Great game and keep your head high and just stay positive" through all the circumstances that I've been through all season.
Q. For Jaden and Mason, can you guys both kind of share with us what you think of Texas defense from what you've seen so far and what makes them tough?
MASON GILLIS: They're very versatile. They have their guards that can get a bucket anytime that they want, so we're going to have to work on that, shutting them down, making everything tough for them. Then the big men, they're just very agile around the court getting rebounds. I think the biggest thing is just limiting our turnovers and limiting our rebounds.
Q. For Eric, you mentioned that players change, like Marcus Carr. Where have you seen his game maybe evolve as you studied him over the last couple years?
ERIC HUNTER: I think now he's like more of a patient player. I think that comes with the nature of, you know, going to a different program. At Minnesota he was asked a lot of him to make plays, put the ball in the basket and now he does a little bit more playmaking than usual. He definitely can put the ball in the basket whenever he wants to. Definitely got to watch out for that.
Q. For any of you, you mentioned being in physical games before. Is there any opponent you can kind of compare Texas' defense to that you've seen earlier this year?
ERIC HUNTER: I would say Indiana or Michigan State. Any of those teams that are super physical and try to knock you out of your stuff, well, as far as being physical in the perimeter. Yeah, so basically kind of those two. I don't know who else really.
MASON GILLIS: Yeah, I'd agree.
Q. For Mason real quick, this is kind of random, but the last three or four games you've made a bunch of plays off closeouts. Are people covering you differently when you get the ball out on the perimeter? They're maybe running out to you a little harder where you were able to get that dunk at Wisconsin, I think you made a pull up against somebody and you made one, like a little runner yesterday. Are people kind of giving you that?
MASON GILLIS: Yeah, I think so. I had a pretty good shooting season towards the beginning of the season and so people started to just kind of see that and try to take me away from it, so I was able to show some other parts of my game that I work on and I'm just ready for anything that they want to throw at me.
MODERATOR: Joined now by Purdue head coach Matt Painter. Questions, please?
Q. Coach, I have two quick once for you here. I believe you're doing probably what we were all doing right here and watching the 1 seed in the east?
COACH MATT PAINTER: I was not. I was doing Westwood Radio.
Q. Well, can I break the news to you then? Baylor just lost to North Carolina.
COACH MATT PAINTER: Really?
Q. So we will lead with that, I think. Talk about, I think, the east right now and how it's played out. I now you're focused on the game ahead of you but it's hard not to understand that Kentucky and Baylor have now gone down.
COACH MATT PAINTER: Yeah, our focus is on Texas, we know how hard this game is going to be. I think they're a great defensive team, they have great experience at the guards. They've taken -- I think when you take a lot of transfers, it takes a little bit of time, but by the end of the year you're a great team and they're a great team. I think that's where our focus is, is trying to handle their defensive pressure, trying to handle them on the other end and a lot of their other iso's and the way they break you down. They really put you in a bind because they have great guards that can dribble pass and shoot. They have a matchup nightmare in Allen at the 4, they have good bigs that do a good job of defending at the rim and defending out, so -- and they have depth. They have nine guys they can go to and really cause you problems. So like that's where our focus is. I really wasn't watching that game. Even though they told me what the score was, I wasn't watching.
Q. Well, there are 20 seconds left, down by 6 right now.
Next question then, a lot of what you just mentioned all falls back on Chris Beard, who you know well, Purdue knows well in the tournament and has come out on the wrong end of a lot of his coaching. So what that says about him and I guess what you can draw from those past experiences heading into tomorrow?
COACH MATT PAINTER: He's a fabulous coach. He's done a great job at all of his stops. Obviously we've gotten beat by them when he was at Arkansas Little Rock and he was at Texas Tech. He's done a great job of preparing his team, playing hard, playing defense, sharing the basketball. Obviously he's had good pieces at all of his stops, so that's the key. It's a player's game. No, I can't say enough good things about him. Obviously you learn from your losses and that's what you want to do. Even though both the teams that we had were a little different, there are still some similar players there, but none of the players on this team were on either one of those teams. Obviously from a coaching standpoint you learn from it. You want your teams to be as tough as their teams, you want your teams to be able to compete like that. That's why he keeps getting really good jobs and that's why he keeps advancing in the tournament.
Q. I just want to hear the story about you convincing him to go to the ABA.
COACH MATT PAINTER: I didn't convince him to go to the ABA. He wanted -- obviously he had some other options that he was trying to get, but he didn't want a gap in his resume. So I knew one of the guys that was running the team, so he reached out to me about going to the ABA, whatever. So I didn't know if that was the best thing to do, but he wanted to stay in coaching. He didn't want to have that gap on his resume. I just didn't think from all the experiences he had already had if that was the best thing. So I wasn't trying to convince him of that. But obviously any time you've got a chance to coach, whether it's minor leagues, kind of semi-pro like basketball, your love for coaching, a lot of the guys, George Carlin, Phil Jackson who coached in the CBA and did summer stuff overseas and different experiences I think can really grow you as a coach, and obviously he's a fabulous coach. Had some bad breaks there and then obviously since then, he's made some really good breaks for himself.
Q. Kind of a two-part deal here, can you just break down what makes Texas' defense really good in terms of what they try to take away and how they do it. Also, how much can Eric's experience on Marcus Carr help you from a defensive perspective?
COACH MATT PAINTER: I think, first of all, just their pressure on the basketball. They have big physical guards with a lot of experience. They've been in a lot of big-time games and their ability to not have to help all the time. When they do have to help, they're great at it. They really do a great job of swarming the basketball, but they're not in help constantly. I think when you're constantly in help as a team you're going to get in trouble with good offensive teams. They do a good job of just guarding the basketball and making it really difficult. Then they have those interchangeable pieces, kind of at the 3, 4, 5 spots that are very long and athletic that really disrupt what you want to do.
In terms of Marcus Carr, obviously with him playing at Minnesota, we know how dangerous he is. He's a very good guard. He's gotten the best of us a couple times and we have a lot of respect for him. And Eric's guarding him and some of our other guys have guarded him too, they would say the same thing. You just have to work hard. Any time you face great players you have to work hard and make them ear it. And he's one of those guys that can make difficult shots and difficult plays, especially in crunch time.
Q. In our generation, we grew up with guys dumping the ball in to Patrick Ewing, Ralph Sampson, those were the glory days before we got old. You have always had 7-footers on your team and how good a job has your team done in getting the ball to Zach? And also, what's your philosophy on 7-footers? Because you always seem to have a couple hanging around.
COACH MATT PAINTER: Well, first of all, we work really hard to try to get them in position to be effective. It's more of a ball screen motion kind of landscape in our game, and rightfully so because the ball screen's very difficult to defend and the low post-game, especially professionally, is not as much. I think analytics has had something to do with that also.
But as long as the bonus is at 7 in the college game and it stays put, if you can get guys that can shoot 65, 70 percent and they can get the ball from 5 to 8 feet, it just makes sense.
But you have to get the right guys. So I'll talk sometimes in clinics and I'll say this is really effective, this is really effective. But Caleb Swanigan is the guy we're throwing it to or A.J. Hammons is the guy we're throwing it, or Isaac Hass. Our players are quality players, we just put a lot of emphasis on it. Then as it's went on, we just kind of naturally from Carl Landry to Juwan Johnson to all the guys that we've had, we can talk about seven to eight different guys in the past 15 years and they look at it and they know, like, hey, we're going to get the ball if we go here. Sometimes those big guys that go other places, they can get the ball but they've got to get it off the glass, they've got to run on the break, they've got to dive to get it, which there's nothing wrong with any of those things because they're all great, but will they really get it, be a focal point of their offense? I think that's the question for size when they get recruited.
We show them through numbers now. I think that's the piece. Before everybody gets on the phone and says, oh, we run or we're a fast break team and there were no numbers to be seen. Now you can show them numbers, okay, here's our offensive efficiency, here's how much we get the ball inside. And the flip of it like with guards, like we've had some really good guards through the year, E'Twaun Moore, Carson Edwards, Jaden Ivey, just to name a few, so we just try to get skill with that size. Then if you can have a dynamic player with him, then you have a really good low post player, a dynamic player and a lot of skill, a lot of heady players and that kind of completes for a good team.
That's our recipe that we try to get to. We don't draft, so we recruit. So we always know who we want, but sometimes we can't get them, and so that's the difficult part. But that's part of it, we all know who we can date. You've got to figure out -- even though we like to lie to ourselves, you've got to figure out hey, I can stay in this race and get second or third place and that doesn't help you. Second or third place in recruiting gets you fired. You've got to figure out who you can get and if you can't get somebody, you've got to move to the next guy pretty quickly so you're not stuck waiting on that guy and end up with nobody.
Q. How have you seen Trevion's passing develop? Did he come to school with a gift?
COACH MATT PAINTER: Yes.
Q. And has he just developed it, and how has he done so?
COACH MATT PAINTER: Yeah, he naturally can see things and he's got a really good feel and a really good instinct. At times it's that blessing that he has and then when he tries to overdo it a little bit, that's when he gets into trouble. Anybody that can see the floor like that and pass, you know, you have some of those moments where you thread the needle a little bit too much or you try to find somebody who's not quite there. You're kind of envisioning something that can kind of matriculate into a play or could not, I call them maybe passes. He has some of those maybe passes.
But it's a great weapon because if you can get the ball close to the rim he could score it and now they've got to make a decision, do they double or don't they double. Then he's such a good offensive rebounder. Any of those kind of opportunities that get there, he's really a dual threat-type guy with his ability to score and past.
Q. This question isn't specifically about you, just kind of speaking in general and want your opinion. How much should a coach be measured by results this time of year, do you think?
COACH MATT PAINTER: How much should he be measured or how much he is -- that's what you're measured on. You're measured on the success you have in winning championships or competing in championships.
I thought this year we put ourselves in a position to win a championship. We didn't. It's a fine line. We put ourselves in a position to win a tournament championship, we didn't, but we still put ourselves in position for both and now here we are in position again, but there's another team out there. Like when you guys ask questions, a lot of times that doesn't get brought up that the team that you're getting ready to play, you lose those games, that team's a really good team. They didn't slip on a banana peel and get into the second round, they earned their way, too. When you get on a neutral court, everything kind of -- you're not on the road, you're not at home, it's the end of the year, everybody kind of knows what you're doing. Even though the tournament, you're not as familiar, especially in that second game.
But that's just the way it is. That's how you get gauged and if that bothers you, this is probably not your profession. You've got to be able to -- I try to be process-based. You lose a game in the NCAA Tournament, learn from it, try to be better so you can win the next one. You know it's going to be difficult because you've got to get yourself back up there again and regroup and everything, but that's part of dusting off and getting off the canvas and going for the fight again, and that's what we try to do. Obviously you want to keep rolling and win games, but, you know, it's part of competition.
Q. Coach, Texas is known for their no middle, very physical defense. Is that going to change the way you utilize Ivey, a player known for driving to the basket? Is that something you're going to focus on, have notice in the film?
COACH MATT PAINTER: No, we'll go to our guys that we go to, whether that's Trevion Williams or Zach Edey or run in plays for Sasha Stefanovic to shoot or try to get Jaden Ivey out in the open court and out in space as much as possible. I think what it lends to -- and this is from Bob's question also -- is now what are they going to do and then you've got it make a good decision. Everyone's going to try to get their best players as many cracks at it as possible. It doesn't mean they get to shoot more, though. It doesn't mean they get to pass more. Whatever organically happens, just take what the defense gives you and play from there.
Sometimes those predetermined thoughts get you in trouble. oh, m going to go out and do exactly what I did against Yale. Well, they're going to defend some things differently than Yale. We're going to do some things differently than Virginia Tech. So when you get to that, you've got to have a mature pulse about you and if they want to overdo some things, get the ball out of your hands. If they don't, they want to keep you one on one, then be aggressive. Whether it's Texas or Purdue, we're going to try to get our best players in as many actions as possible and be aggressive, but just make good decisions and make good reads.
Q. Matt, seemed like Ethan Morton did a pretty good job on Keegan Murray in the Big Ten tournament defensively. It seems like he did a pretty good job yesterday on Swain. How much can that kind of defensive versatility off the bench kind of help you this time of year?
COACH MATT PAINTER: I think it can really help us. I think Ethan's done a really good job for us. He is gotten into some tough grinds there when we've got certain matchups and I go with other guys and he kept a positive attitude and he's ready to play when his number's called. Any time you can have guys that are versatile, that can dribble, pass and shoot and defend, that really helps us.
Q. Just wondering what your recollections -- what sticks out in your memory from that Little Rock game. Also, I didn't know if your relationship with Chris had preceded that or how familiar you were with him leading up to that particular game.
COACH MATT PAINTER: I was obviously familiar with him. I've known him through Pat and I, who they were together with at Texas Tech, and obviously he was a junior college coach before that.
What sticks out to me was just how hard they play. They did a great job of shot-faking and using their dribble with that group that he had at Little Rock. He had a quick turnaround there. He really came in there and established a great culture and played. We're up three with 18 seconds and we don't foul and that's a lot of time, right, but they don't take their shot until 5 seconds to go. It really taught me a lesson in terms of most people at that time are going to go be aggressive right away because they're up against time. They'll even go get a quick two at that time.
So that was something that really jarred me. I thought we should have fouled there and I made the mistake of not fouling after it got under 10 seconds, even though 8, 9 seconds is still a lot of time in that scenario, but you still don't like to see that three beat you at that time and not went to the Final Four over a pretty similar scenario. And we did foul, so for you guys out there saying that we should foul or not foul, I've proven that we can lose either way.
And so that's what sticks out. Like I don't think I made a mistake -- I didn't make a mistake in the Virginia game. I made a mistake in the Arkansas Little Rock game and those stick with you more. The losses stick with you. And the question earlier, that's what stings about our business. People have no idea how that churns with you five, ten years later. Those moments just are tough, but you try to learn from it and be better and keep rolling.
No, he's a really good coach. Obviously he doesn't advance and do the things that he's done at all those different stops without being a great coach.
Q. It's easy for us to look and say Zach Edey's 9 inches taller than Christian Bishop, he's going to be fine. What stands out about how Bishop defends post-ups and how to you have to attack the sequence?
COACH MATT PAINTER: Zach kind of nailed it when he talked the other day before our Yale game. Sometimes those guys are the hardest guys because they're athletic and they're quicker and they can beat you to a stop and they can get under you a little bit.
It's more team defense than anything. Those guys can do that, but if they don't have somebody on that back side or that low man helping right there as they beat you to a spot and we can just throw over the top, then you're stuck. So it takes pressure on the basketball, it takes a good post defender, then it takes some weak side help. That's why the combination of skill and size in a dynamic guy like Jaden has really helped us and that's the reason I really emphasize so much our decision-making. You know, if we just make good decisions and we can handle pressure, things that really work for us.
Q. I know you've had a lot of teams in the NCAA Tournament, but as you look at this one, what stands out most from a positive standpoint and what's been the biggest challenge with this team, despite its talent?
COACH MATT PAINTER: I think what stands out from a positive is our ability to shoot a good field goal percentage and be a good offensive rebound team. To go into that also is the turnovers. Our total number of turnovers isn't that bad, it just seems like it's extreme when we lose. So sometimes it's not the total, it's like a total and a half and that one half, we never get over that hurdle.
I would say those things jump out more than anything, because when we turn it over or we take tough shots, that really affects our transition decision like it affects everybody's. So they really go hand and hand right there. As long as we get quality shots and take care of the basketball, we really help our transition defense, we get our defense set and that helps us and we've had a lot of success there. But I would say those are the main strengths and weaknesses for our group.
Q. Getting lack to Trevion, he could start anywhere obviously, 25 to 30 minutes. Was it difficult to get him to supplement his ego and accept his role or did he come by it naturally?
COACH MATT PAINTER: No, he was fine. And it wasn't something that we really met on and really discussed. I talk about things before and I'm always going to make decisions on what I think is best for our team. If I made decisions on what was best for each individual, they would be different.
This is just a different team because he's First-Team All-League the year before, so a lot of people have tried to like discuss about playing together and that's what we -- I even talked about that. We did a little bit of that in the summer, but we've struggled some. Here in the past month we've been better defensively, but like from a ball screen defense, transition defense, actually defensive standpoint, like that really puts a burden on our team when we're that way.
Now, when he's in there by himself, he's got a lot of space with the skill we put on the floor, and so does Zach obviously. But no, he's been great. He's kept a good attitude. It's been frustrating at times, and you understand that. Like you want to do well, you want to help your team, then you don't get to play quite as much, but if you look how efficient those guys have been, they've both done a really good job until us.
Q. Matt, yesterday it was really apparent watching Texas play just how -- just how they kind of, their physical nature sort of took a really good offensive team --
COACH MATT PAINTER: Right.
Q. -- a lot of what they were trying to do. I don't know, you play in a pretty physical conference.
COACH MATT PAINTER: Yes.
Q. Is there anything that you can draw on? Was there a team that maybe -- I don't know if it was Villanova or teams in the conference that would maybe at least allow guys to think, okay, this is going to be similar to that.
COACH MATT PAINTER: You went from Ohio State to Michigan State to Rutgers to Indiana, those teams are pretty good defensively and they're pretty physical, especially their guards. Like, they really get into you.
Villanova's obviously a great team. We played them earlier in the year and they have like super guards and physical guards and they really stretch you out.
I would think the combination of those five teams in terms of -- Texas, they're experienced in all three guys. They're all big, physical guards that cause issues for you, but just the freedom of movement in dribbling the basketball, especially with a guy like Jaden Ivey, that's been the big emphasis this year. And I think you saw that yesterday with him driving and getting, I think, seven fouls drawn.
So that's the emphasis that they've made and they really talked about from a referring standpoint. So we'll see, we'll see if they allow two hands or they allow that or they're going to actually call it the way they say they're going to call it.
Q. North Carolina has officially won. I know you don't really care about that. A quick question, do you know where your relationship with Chris Beard started, where you first saw him and where that kind of founded?
COACH MATT PAINTER: He was a junior college coach when I first saw him before when I first met him when he was an assistant at Texas Tech. Obviously met him through -- Pat Knight was there. I played AAU basketball in Bloomington and I stayed at Nancy Knight's house, Pat's mom's house, and then Pat's brother coached our team, Tim Knight. so I've known their family for a long time, so that's how I got connected through Chris with Pat, when they were on staff together at Texas Tech.
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