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March 20, 2009
Q. Robbie, out here a PAC-10 team, Washington, maybe you don't know much about this, obviously a 4 seed, deserving of that, they won a game. It will be a tough match-up for you guys.
ROBBIE HUMMEL: Yeah, they're a great team. We got to watch film on them this morning. They're a big, physical team and they have some good players, so it will be a tough match-up for us.
Q. E'Twaun, would you just talk a little bit about how Lewis has fit into the picture this year? Sometimes it's difficult, as you guys all know last year to come in as freshmen and establish yourselves. But he seemed like he eased into it pretty easily, and he said you made him feel very comfortable in the recruiting process, got to be pretty good friends. Talk about how he's fit in.
E'TWAUN MOORE: Yes, Lewis definitely has been doing a great job for us this year. He came in as a freshman and tried to be a leader. That's something you rarely find, especially in young guards coming in now. He just took the point guard role and did a really good job with it. He come and gets us in our sets, and he know where we're at in the offense, know where we put everyone at, but he's been a great on-ball defender, and he just did a great job.
Q. Can you guys just kind of talk about the match-up with Jon Brockman and the sort of match-up issues he might creat and how playing a Big Ten schedule and seeing Blake Griffin and Kyle Singler helped prepare you for that?
JAJUAN JOHNSON: He's going to be a tough match-up for us, with the size. He's the guy that plays hard, so if you're not physical back with him he's going to make you pay for it. We're going to box him out every time and limit his catches if we want to be successful guarding him.
ROBBIE HUMMEL: Yeah, I agree, and like he said I think it helps us that we have played Blake Griffin and Kyle Singler because they're very physical and very good rebounders. I think it's going to be a tough match-up for us, because he's so active on the glass, but hopefully we can do a good job on him and if we can it will help us win the game.
Q. Robbie, how much has Matt played up the whole "we're going into their home court, they're going to have all their fans here," all that kind of thing?
ROBBIE HUMMEL: Not really. It's one of those things where I think we're all aware of it. We know this is pretty close to Washington, so they're going to have a pretty good contingent of fans. It will be like a road game for us. I think our team thrives on that environment, and it's almost like us against the world, so we're looking forward to that.
Q. I don't know how much tape you guys got to see of Washington overnight, but can you talk about their back court and how different they might be from what you normally see, particularly the way they defend?
E'TWAUN MOORE: Their back court is extremely quick and fast. They've got small guards, but they really get after you, especially on the defensive end. Our guards have to be strong with the ball. If not, they'll come and try to take it from you. Guarding them will be a challenge because they play at a high tempo and they're fast with the ball, so it should be a great match-up for us.
Q. Does the height difference, do you think that's an advantage or makes no difference, what do you think about that? You guys are going to be a little bit taller than them. Obviously Lewis isn't, but everyone else will be?
E'TWAUN MOORE: We're taller than them. But they're physical and a bigger and stronger team. Their inside presence makes up for the outside presence, because they definitely have big horses down low. But I guess it will even up, but we'll see how it plays tomorrow.
Q. They were able to get Mississippi State's big guy in foul trouble in the first half, and some of their big guys were able to go off and put that game out of reach. When you go into a game like this realizing the team needs you on the court, can you let the foul situation get in your head or do you go out and play?
JAJUAN JOHNSON: You definitely have to go out and play your game. You can't worry about getting into foul trouble. I think you're going to have to move your feet, if you want to be successful in guarding these people. If you don't let them catch the ball they can't call fouls on you. That's what I'm going to try to do tomorrow.
Q. Robbie, does anyone call you "6-shot-Rob" anymore? Has that gone away?
ROBBIE HUMMEL: I really haven't been called that -- I don't know if I've ever been called that by anybody (laughter.) Definitely not. I think maybe -- did Coach Painter reference that last year? Yeah, he hasn't called me that this year. It's kind of gone away.
Q. Is your back fully -- do you have any pain like sitting still? Is it still bothering you or is that all in the past?
ROBBIE HUMMEL: My back feels as good as it has in a long time. I'm really not having any pain. I can go out there and run and jump and really be pain free?
Q. I guess for Robbie, but any of you could answer it, maybe, my understanding is you guys kind of all came there together. Was it kind of not necessarily a package deal, but did you all know each other was coming and you wanted to build something at Purdue and that sort of thing?
ROBBIE HUMMEL: That was one of those things where we had all played together. E'Twaun and I played on the same AAU team and we played against each other since middle school. And JaJuan we played with him in the junior All-Stars. And with the Indiana All-Stars our senior year in high school. We were definitely aware of JaJuan coming in, even though at least for me I didn't know him that well when he admitted. We kind of texted a little bit. E'Twaun and I discussed coming here together.
Q. Following up on that for all three of you, if you will, just briefly, how important is that you guys were coming in together to establish yourselves to take that next step, win this game and get to the Sweet 16?
JAJUAN JOHNSON: I think it's real important, because we had -- I would say we had pretty high expectations, from just other people outside of us. I think it's a big thing, we're helping each other get better. We've been in this together since day one. I think that's a big part of our success and I know we all want to win championships and that's always a good thing.
ROBBIE HUMMEL: Yeah, like JaJuan said, I think each one of us helped each other grow as basketball players. I'm very grateful that I decided to come to Purdue with these guys. It's just a lot easier for us to go about every day because we know that we can lean on each other and have one another to depend on.
E'TWAUN MOORE: I guess I agree with them guys. It's great that we all came in together. You said something about the hype earlier. That's something we tried not to feed into, the hype. We try to go out and play as hard as we can, and whatever comes with it comes with it. But we definitely want to advance to the Sweet 16, that definitely would be great for our school history.
Q. Robbie, it looks like this is a clash of styles, a team that wants to run-and-gun and you want to grind it out and play tough D. How do you see it playing out when you have two teams with cross purposes, different styles of playing basketball?
ROBBIE HUMMEL: I think it's going to be one of those games where like you said it's going to be two clashing styles. But I think our team has really shown that we can play numerous styles. I think that we show that in the Big Ten tournament where we ran up and down with Penn State and Illinois, and against Ohio State we got in one of the those grinds. We didn't shoot the ball as well, we had to grind it out.
I think we can adapt, but I think definitely our style of play is probably a little slower than Washington, especially since they're in the PAC-10 and that's more of a running league. We'll try to impose our will and try to control the tempo.
Q. How many texts and e-mails and letters have you gotten from people in central Indiana that feel like they have this really great back, that you can take a pill, whatever it might be?
ROBBIE HUMMEL: I can't even count e-mails, text messages, voicemails, letters, and even packages of things that will help my back. So it's just been one of those things where I tried to not really respond to any of them. I felt like if I responded to one I'd have to respond to them all. So there's a bunch of stuff, though.
Q. What was the craziest thing you got?
ROBBIE HUMMEL: This one guy got my phone number, called me, I don't know how he did, and left me a voicemail about some Eucalyptus oil that would magically cure my back.
Q. Did you try it?
ROBBIE HUMMEL: No, I didn't.
Q. Did you get a package?
ROBBIE HUMMEL: He never sent it, he just left me a voicemail about how it would help me.
Q. For any of you guys, I know you've seen limited film on Washington, what you saw yesterday. Do they remind you of any team that you played in the Big Ten?
JAJUAN JOHNSON: I would say the closest team would maybe be Michigan State, just because they have those big guys down low. They're real physical. And they have big guards that are able to just run in transition and just make plays for their team.
Q. E'Twaun, for basketball fans of my age, you can't hear Purdue without thinking of Rick Mount. I'm wondering if that name is still relevant on campus and particularly for a guard wearing the Purdue uniform?
E'TWAUN MOORE: I definitely heard stories and things of Rick Mount, but I really don't -- we really don't hear his name too much around now. I guess there was some in the past. We really haven't heard a lot about him.
Q. Have you guys crossed paths with anybody on the Washington team? Have you played against any of those guys or just basically what you've seen on film?
ROBBIE HUMMEL: Isaiah Thomas we played when we played Friends of the Hoop, E'Twaun and I did, other than that, I don't think so.
Q. How did you do?
ROBBIE HUMMEL: I think we won.
E'TWAUN MOORE: I think we won.
ROBBIE HUMMEL: I don't remember.
Q. In practice with Lewis, what is it like defending him and what's it like just to play him when you're just doing the intersquad stuff?
E'TWAUN MOORE: I guess I probably guard him the most out of these guys. Man, he's a tough competitor. Every drill and every game we play he always going to play as hard -- he definitely going to make you work, even if you're guarding him and going a hundred miles an hour you have to chase him. If he's guarding you, he gets up in you. He's a good one to have.
Q. For all three of you guys, you've won four in a row now, do you guys get superstitious, do you do things like wear the same clothes or something, is there any type of superstition you use or is it all irrelevant?
JAJUAN JOHNSON: Me, personally, I don't really have any superstitions, but if something is working I kind of just try to stick with it any way, just because, why not? Just keep going with it. But I don't really have too much superstitions.
ROBBIE HUMMEL: Yeah, I agree with JaJuan. I kind of do the same thing before every game. I'll listen to music but I don't do anything like not shave for our winning streaks or anything like that.
E'TWAUN MOORE: Me? No, I'll say I have one. I always wear black shoes. If I have a bad game then I'll switch. But that's one thing I always do. But besides that, that's it.
Q. Do you start out with black shoes?
E'TWAUN MOORE: Yes.
Q. And switch it?
E'TWAUN MOORE: And then I'll go back.
Q. Coach, I know you were there for that Washington, Mississippi State game, it didn't seem like much of a neutral court game. There should be more Husky fans on a weekend game.
COACH PAINTER: They've earned that. When you're the PAC-10 champs and you put yourself in the the position they were in this year, you earn that home court advantage, if you have a site relatively close to you when it comes time to Selection Sunday.
Washington has a very good game. When you're the PAC-10 champs, you're deserving of that. And they've put themselves in a very good position.
Q. I don't know how much you've seen of them overnight on tape or just watching otherwise, but can you talk about their back court, particularly Overton and just these little guys who kind of make a lot happen?
COACH PAINTER: Those little guys are good players. And Isaiah Thomas is very shifty, very good with the basketball. Gets to the rim. Just simply makes plays, and probably one thing that stands out with Isaiah is the fact that he draws a lot of fouls and gets to the free throw line.
When you're having a point guard that's causing havoc offensively, and you have the athleticism and the physical play that Washington has on the interior, it makes for a good combination. Justin Dentmon is a very good combo guard, he can play either slot. He's more of a lead guard, more of a scorer. I've known him since the 6th grade, being from Carbondale. He loves to play basketball. And he's a tough match-up, because he can play that point and forces a two a lot of times to guard him. But just a good, overall basketball player, and he's made huge strides under Coach Romar.
And Overton is the best on-ball guy we've seen all year. His defense really gets them going when he subs in, and charges them up. And you've got to be careful when he's around because he'll take the ball from you, and plays with a lot of energy. He's the type of guy that we really value at Purdue.
I think Overton is a great player. He doesn't score a lot of points, even though he's capable of scoring, but he affects the game without scoring at times, which I think is a great compliment.
Q. Is there a Big Ten team that they most closely approximate, for those of us who have seen them play all of one time?
COACH PAINTER: I would say Michigan State. With Kalin Lucas' ability to push the ball and use his quickness in transition, to go along with Walton who's a great defender, you throw in Durrell Summers, you throw in a guy like Raymar Morgan, who is like Pondexter, he can play inside and out, and causes you that three-four match-up problem that's just a nightmare.
And they're third in the nation rebounding, and Michigan is second in the nation for rebounding. Sometimes with both of those teams, their best offense is a missed shot as they cave you in on the weak side. You can't do it against Michigan State or Washington. If they're stealing points in transition and they're stealing points on the glass they're going to win the game.
Q. Can you talk a little bit about the maturation of Lewis Jackson's game throughout the season and comment on how he matches up with Thomas tomorrow night?
COACH PAINTER: I think Lewis Jackson has done a great job. He made a great decision coming to Purdue, because we needed him. We have great combo guards in our back court, but we didn't have the guy to put pressure. He gives us that quickness and hopefully he can do a good job on Thomas. It's a tall order, but you have to do your best to keep Thomas in front of you. And turn it around a little bit and put pressure on him.
But the one thing that Washington is able to do, they have a lot of ball handlers, so it's not like if Thomas doesn't handle the ball, they don't have anybody to break you down. They still have Overton and Dentmon, and still have very, very good lead guards that can hurt you. So it's not just Isaiah Thomas we're worried about. We're worried about all their guards.
Q. You talk about Overton as a player that you value. For us that are trying to learn more about your ball club, can you talk about a player that might cause the same type of issues for Washington?
COACH PAINTER: You know, hopefully we have more than one. You talk about Overton. Overton is a good offensive player, but how he affects the game lies in his enthusiasm and toughness and ability to guard the ball. I think we have a guy like Lewis Jackson that can put pressure on the basketball, get into the basketball.
Chris Kramer has been on the All-Defensive team in our league. He does a very good job of disrupting other teams and their leading scorer. The problem we have with Washington is we don't know who their leading scorer is. They have great balance. They have three guys at 15 points, and then you throw Pondexter into that mix, and the way he played yesterday, it makes for a very difficult match-up for us. But I think that Kramer is a guy that can disrupt things.
I think Jackson is a guy that can do that. Hummel is a very good, intelligent basketball player, understands what's going on on defense. And Grant and Moore give us two long defenders, who I think are playing very good defense at this point, not to mention Johnson is who on the All-Defensive team who led our team in blocked shots. Our staple is defense, and after watching Washington I would say the same thing. I would say their staple is on the defensive end and getting into people and trying to cause havoc.
Q. Did you guys recruit Justin Dentmon very much?
A. We recruited him at Southern Illinois. When we missed on him, we actually signed him at Illinois State then he went to prep school and then he opened his recruitment back up, and that's when he signed with Washington, so it's six years removed.
Q. Of course you like your point guard, you recruited him. But can you talk about the faith it takes to throw your team under the direction of a freshman, under 5'10" point guard throughout the season?
COACH PAINTER: Well, I think there's a lot of pieces that Washington had last year that they have right now that they're playing well. And obviously they've had a lot better year this year, and sometimes you just need one more piece. And even though Dentmon and Overton can play that position, now it allows those guys to match-up and Lorenzo to be able to go small and put a team in a bind, but also go big and put people in the bind, and that is the final piece.
Isaiah Thomas was their piece to help them win the Pac-10 championship. Coach Romar was a guard and he understands how valuable that one more piece can be for your chemistry. And they've been able to do that with Isaiah Thomas. They've been able to give him the ball and have confidence. With that you're going to have growing points. Anytime you have a freshman point guard you're going to have growing pains. Now they have a good product and they can beat anybody in the country. Is that what you're asking me? Okay.
Well, I think for us it's by committee. Grant has the ball in his hands, but we put the ball in Moore's hands a lot. It's difficult when you face different teams how they press, how they zone, 1-3-1. We've got a couple of teams in our league that plays multiple defenses and they're always changing. I think Lewis has done a good job of adjusting to that throughout the year.
Q. Do you have any hesitation at all in throwing Lewis right in like that?
COACH PAINTER: No, I think he's earned that. It's something through practice that you see through leadership skills. Their physical attributes. He gives us something we needed this year, which was the quickness, and to put pressure on the basketball, but also break people down off the bounce.
Q. How hard will you sell your guys on the idea that this is a road game that really nobody is interested in seeing them win, here? Washington's playing essentially a home game. Secondly, would it be safe to assume you've got Hummel on Brockman, is that the match-up?
COACH PAINTER: Well, I don't have to sell them about this being a road game. This is a road game. It's that simple. When you walk out there and you have a sea of purple, it is going to be a road game. But like I said, Washington has earned that. They're the Pac-10 champs, they put themselves in that position. They deserve to be here. They deserve to be in this position.
We beat some good teams on the road. We've been competitive at times. We played Michigan State at the end of the year, and couldn't make a shot. We won at Wisconsin and Minnesota. We won at some tough venues.
Hummel will guard Brockman at times, I don't know if he'll start on Brockman. They tilt their line ups at times. They go big and sometimes they go small. So it depends on their line ups and how we handle that. But Hummel will guard him at times. JaJuan will guard him too. I think Brockman is someone you have to throw a lot of people at, because he requires that kind of attention. He's one of the best players in the country.
Q. You guys have the reputation of being a team that likes to grind things out. Huskies like to run. Do you feel like if it turns into that you guys can run a little bit and can win a high scoring game?
COACH PAINTER: I felt in the Big Ten tournament we did a good job of pushing the basketball and getting points in transition. We have to have a balance of scoring the ball in transition, and also scoring the ball in the half court. I don't feel we can run every single possession. I think it's important for us just to take what the defense gives us. If it's going to be stingy, defense, and they're going to be set all the time we have to put them on defense. If you're going to have opportunities and have numbers and angles I think we have to push the basketball and look for that first good shot.
Q. Coach, what are the one or two points of emphasis tomorrow that you absolutely have to do in order to win?
COACH PAINTER: To be able to beat Washington, like I said, it's very similar to Michigan State. You have to be able to rebound the basketball and you have to keep them out of transition. It's not to say they're not good in the half court, because they are. They have a lot of weapons. But for starters those are the two most important things, rebound the basketball, and get them stopped. When Thomas and Dentmon and Overton are pushing it and getting opportunities for themselves and their teammates they are very, very dangerous.
Q. We've seen all the building blocks. You took the job as the assistant for the year and the great recruiting class, back to the Big Dance, Big Ten championship in this tournament. Is this the logical step you want to do is win this next game and get to the Sweet 16?
You obviously want to make steps in your program and sometimes they're baby steps, sometimes they're huge steps. Our guys have done a good job of working hard through injuries. Our guys stayed positive and continued to work and that was a great sign. We've been in this position three years in a row now after a first round win and hopefully we can make that next step. But we've got a tall order in front of us. Washington is a very good team and it's going to create a big time challenge for us.
Q. A little bit off topic, you guys are one of 26 schools that have men's and women's teams in the tournament. Have you seen any common denominator that you think maybe has influenced the success of both programs?
COACH PAINTER: Well, I think our program in terms of men's basketball has a lot of tradition. I think the same holds true for our women's program, also. If you have very good tradition and I think we're in a good place, good region, we're on fertile ground in terms of players for both women and men. Sometimes that's not always the case. If you have enough players in your area that always helps with that. I think that's when people say it is something -- is it a good job?
I feel Purdue is a good job because we have good players in the State of Indiana, we have good players in the midwest. I think there's enough to go around. I think that holds true for our women's program, also.
Q. You talk about Washington winning the Pac-10 and deserving to play a home game in the conference, any frustration winning the Big Ten and essentially playing the road game?
COACH PAINTER: Well, I think you have to play devil's advocate a little bit. We got beaten at home by Northwestern at the end of the year. If you want to put yourself in a great position, you have to do a better job to finish. We lost three out of four games in the regular season and we ended up winning the Big Ten tournament.
It would have been interesting to see at the end of the year how things stack up, how they make that decision. You like to be in that room because you never get a direct answer. Seems like everything just gets talked about in theory. But we didn't take care of our business at the end of the year in the regular season so that's why I feel that we stayed at a 5 seed.
Q. Could you kind of expand on that a little bit, in what way didn't you take care of your business? What was common maybe in those late season losses that must have been straightened out by the tournament?
COACH PAINTER: What was common was we lost, more than anything. When you lose three out of four to finish your year, what are they supposed to think? And now losing those games, did that put us on edge and help us win the Big Ten tournament? I think it did. So I take it as a positive, there's a silver lining in those losses. What did you learn? If you learned something from those losses and it made you stronger and it made you a better team, I'm glad it happened.
When when you're sitting there and you're selecting, and saying "hey, we should have been a higher seed." Look at those 4 seeds, those 4 seeds are pretty good, too. I don't know if we could have leapfrogged any of those 4 seeds. When you look at the resumes, you're splitting hairs if you're comparing them. They have a tough decision to make when you're splitting hairs with where you're heading to and what your seed is right there.
And like I said, if one of our guys or somebody that's a fan of Purdue doesn't like us being the 5 seed, we should have done a better job. We had opportunities to play. We had opportunities to win more games and we didn't.
Q. Interested with the seeding, just was there a problem in -- that caused those losses?
COACH PAINTER: I'm sorry. Yeah, we didn't play hard enough. I thought Northwestern was quicker to the basketball. Northwestern out rebounded us in the loss that we had. Michigan scored 50 points against us in the second half. We just allowed them to get into a rhythm. We played a game without Calasan at Michigan, and Johnson got in foul trouble and we had to play small and that hurt. We were in a little bit of scoring drought at Michigan State. I thought we did good things defensively, we struggled to keep them off the glass.
And since then we've done a very good job rebounding. And that's been key for us. When we rebound the ball and take care of the basketball, I feel we're a pretty good team. When we don't do those things, that's when we put ourselves in a little bit of a bind.
Q. Might it have helped your seeding if the Big Ten tournament was earlier in the day or even earlier in the week as opposed to being the last game played? Your game ends at 5:30, 6:00 the brackets come out?
COACH PAINTER: I don't know if that question is for me. But I think that is a great question. Do they have time to digest what you've been able to accomplish? And being the Big Ten tournament champs and watching us play in those games against three very good opponents. I think we were playing good basketball.
But you also get into the question again of comparison to those other teams. And like I said those teams in front of us had great years. So that's difficult. But I still think that's a question that needs to be put out there in terms of our league and when we play that game, is it important maybe to push it back a day or is it important to lead right into Selection Sunday, because it is great exposure for our league.
Q. What comparison we've heard to a Pac-10 school with you guys is Washington State. I'm just curious if you think that's fair at all in terms of style. And then the other is obviously if the team at Washington State has a well defined defensive system, do you have one and what are its roots?
COACH PAINTER: Almost everything we do in the blueprint, what we do is from Coach Keaty and his 25 years at Purdue. And just trying to be a tough, hard-nosed man-to-man defensive team. That's what we're trying to do. We're trying to make that our staple. At times I think we're making strides in that area, at times we take a step back. I think our guys have worked hard towards that. I don't think we're where we need to be.
But that's, as a coach, you're always wanting more. But Washington State is a very good team. They have a lot of defensive principles that make you adjust. And after watching them on tape they're good. We don't have a center of that size. Washington State has a huge center. But there's some comparisons there. But I think we have different pieces. We have different personnel. I think that's where it gets separated a little bit. End.
Q. Can you talk about the match-up with Jon Brockman a little bit and the importance of keeping him on the glass, if at all possible?
COACH PAINTER: Well, I think Brockman is one of the best players in the country, one of the best big men in the country. He's got a motor and physical strength and he's relentless. We faced Blake Griffin this year and he demands that kind of attention. You have to do a good job of not letting him get comfortable, not letting him bury you under the baskets or he's going to the free throw line or scoring an easy layup. He's a very good player. And you cannot let him get comfortable out there and you've got to check him out. I thought we did a great job against Blake Griffin and he had 19 and 21. Brockman is that type of guy, he has close to 60 double doubles in his career.
End of FastScripts