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March 25, 2010

JaJuan Johnson

Chris Kramer

E'Twaun Moore

Matt Painter


THE MODERATOR: Opening comments, Coach.
COACH PAINTER: Obviously, we're excited to be in Houston. We know it's a big challenge to go up against Duke, and obviously we're familiar with Duke because we played them last year.
I'm really proud of our guys and what they've been able to do here the past month. Really had to adjust with the loss of Rob Hummel, and I think we'll continue to get better. Continue to figure out different ways to win when you have different opponents, especially on a neutral court in the NCAA Tournament.
This will be the biggest challenge we've had so far in terms of having to box out, get rebounds, and be able to handle a great pressure man-to-man defensive team. Duke does an unbelievable job with their team defense. They've done a great job really adjusting from last year and not having depth in their back court, but having a lot of depth in their front court with Singler moving to the three.
They've just obviously had a great transition. They're just a tough team. Just impressed with them and their ability to rebound the basketball and play defense.

Q. How do you go from scoring 11 points in a half against Minnesota to being in the Sweet 16?
COACH PAINTER: You're going to have some tough games when you have an adjustment like we've had. It's part of learning. When you start with your team and you finish with the same team, you hope to get those kind of growing pains out of the way early in non-conference in November and December.
When we had that adjustment, we knew there were going to be some growing pains. Obviously, we did not want it to be that extreme where we only scored 11 points in one half, but it does happen. The wheels fell on of for us at that point in that particular game.
But we didn't really dwell on it too much. We know we have we a good team. We know defensively what we're capable of doing. But we just had to have some guys step up, make shots and make plays, be more aggressive. I think that's been the case for us.
We didn't go out and score 80 points in NCAA games, but we were still more aggressive. I think that game really helped us understand that we have to have different people step up, make plays, make shots, but look for their shot. I think that was the problem for us, just not being aggressive and not playing together in the Minnesota game offensively. We just didn't play together. We didn't share the ball, we didn't move. But a lot of that had to do with Minnesota. They played a great game.

Q. Wondered if you could talk about Kramer and how he's had to step up his game in the absence of Hummel and what he's meant to the team?
COACH PAINTER: He's one of the guys that needs to step up and shoot the basketball and be more aggressive with the absence of Hummel. Defensively he plays the same role for us, even though he'll guard a bigger guy now when we'll sub. We'll have two more traditional bigs in the game. We'll put him on the guy we would originally have.
In this game you have a lot of choices there because Smith, Scheyer and Singler are so good. We'd like to put him on all three of those guys, but that's not possible. But with this, he's been able to play a four, guard a four, and do some good things from a team defensive standpoint that really helps us.
But we look at him as a shut down guy. But he has to do a better job for us. Now in some other areas and that is scoring and rebounding where we really struggled with the absence of Rob.

Q. How is he handling that new role having to step up and do more scoring, do more shooting?
COACH PAINTER: He's obviously done a better job in the last game. He led us, and he's a guy that can shoot the basketball. He's kind of deferred to others because we've had our three main scorers, our juniors. So he's fine with that. He's fine with attacking the rim and making those decisions.
But it's something you know when you're dealing with a guy that hasn't shot a lot now and they miss a couple, they've got to still stay on the hunt. At times he doesn't do that and he needs to stay aggressive for us.

Q. Robbie Hummel's here with you guys. Can you talk about what it's like to have him and where is he at now that the surgery's a week and a half, two weeks in the rear view mirror?
COACH PAINTER: I think it's good for him to be here, you know, to enjoy the experience of being in the Sweet 16 and hopefully advancing. You know, he's a great teammate. He helps guys. He sees what's going on out there on the court. I think it's always good to have an extra set of guys on your bench, especially with a guy that has the experience that Rob does.
But just trying to keep the mental part and stay positive. It's very hard going through rehab. Having surgery and then rehabbing and pushing forward. But, you know, it's going to take some time, obviously, four to six months. But the surgery was great. Now you've just got to go forward and try to keep him in good spirits.

Q. I was wondering if you've noticed that Jon Scheyer's kind of shooting struggles over the past two weeks or so and whether that changes at all the way you guys play defensively?
COACH PAINTER: No, you know, Jon Scheyer, the guys that score 2000 points in their career, I think they've proven themselves. They might have a stretch where they struggle, but you know, all scorers, all shooters have those stretches. The best shooter ever had that struggle. So you go through those periods.
Those guys have great reference points because they've had so much success in their careers that they just go back at it and continue to take their shots. That doesn't change anything for us. We have a lot of respect for him. I've seen him play since he was 14, 15 years old. He's always been a confident kid and had that swagger about him.
You've just got it to make it difficult for him and try to keep him in front of you. Always contest his shots. But he's going to make plays and make shots. I think that's been proven.

Q. It's obviously something you're used to by now, but they'll have a size advantage pretty much across the lineup. How do you overcome that?
COACH PAINTER: I think you have to make, first of all, you've got to make good decisions on the offensive end. I think any time you're making good decisions offensively and not allowing them to get in transition. Because any time you're in rotation or in transition, it's very difficult to block out size. But we just got to do a good job of getting into them, creating space, and going to get the basketball.
At times with this team when we've won against teams that are bigger than us, it doesn't come down to always boxing out with that size. It comes down to chasing rebounds and being quicker to the basketball. That's what we're going to have to do to be successful against them, but that's an issue for us no matter who we're playing.
Like I said, we have to be able to offset that by taking care of the basketball and having fewer turnovers than our opponent.

Q. Duke, obviously, defensively is very good. Offensively, they've got a number of different weapons. How do you go about trying to slow down a team that has that many different type of weapons that are that good?
COACH PAINTER: You have to make sure you emphasize to your team the things you control. Like I said, taking care of the basketball and keeping them out of transition is very important. Don't allow them to get those wide open threes in transition. Get the easy ones in transition. Keeping them off the glass so they don't have second chance points. Being able to play the game without fouling.
I've had a lot of success with that. They don't have a lot of depth in their back court, but those guys play 40 minutes and they're aggressive and they don't foul. That's something that we've really had to focus on with our guys, being aggressive. Staying into them defensively, not allowing angles, but also not fouling. I think there is an art to that.
But they do have a lot of weapons. They have three guys on the perimeter that are very dangerous. They have great size. And been very impressed with how hard Lance Thomas and Brian Zoubek play. They're relentless. They keep coming after the basketball.
Then they bring in miles and Mason Plumlee both athletic with size, and they can crash the glass also. You've got to do a good job of keeping them off the glass. Not allowing those second chance opportunities and keeping them out of transition. But to throw on top of that, they're very efficient in the half court. That's why they're a great team, because they can hurt you in so many ways.

Q. You think of the Duke teams of the past and they traditionally always have like one really dominant post like a later in, Boozer, Williams, McRoberts. They may not have that one talented really stud guy. But it's more of a body of work. It's a little different than what we've seen of some of the Duke teams. Is that kind of correct?
COACH PAINTER: Yeah, but those guys have proven they can score the ball especially off the glass. They will throw the ball inside to them, not as much as they try to do with Singler, because he's so multi-dimensional. He can hurt you in so many ways. They try to play that mismatch with the post-up with the three.
But it is a little bit different. You're going back a long ways there with a lot of teams. But I think they've done a great job with this team and really playing to their strengths and their size. Their bigs are really accepting the roles and continue to get better as the season goes on.

Q. For a little bit there I was thinking Lewis Jackson may have made a mistake in not red shirting. Can you discuss -- obviously, it's not a mistake you're in the Sweet 16. But can you discuss how he's handled the ups and downs and what he has to do and what JaJuan has to do against Duke?
COACH PAINTER: Well, he made the decision to come back to try to help us win a championship in the Big Ten, which we did. Then to advance in the tournament with these seniors. I think he sacrificed a lot. Sacrificed more than half of his season to do those things. I think it really just shows his character and that he is a team guy.
But Lou has to make good decisions. I thought against Siena, Lou was great. He had nine assists, one turnover. It wasn't really a turnover, it was a drop by JaJuan. He should have had ten assists is, zero turnovers. Didn't do quite as well against Texas A & M and his decision making.
We're going to need him just to be solid for us. Whether that's getting to the rim and finishing or getting to the rim and making that next pass. But Lou has to be able to take care of the basketball for us, and really play turnover-free for us to have success against Duke.
You know, JaJuan needs to continue to do the same things. Run the court, try to get opportunities off the glass. And score in our half court, whether that's posting up or driving the basketball or taking his perimeter shot.
We try to get him in a lot of different situations, you know, because he can score a lot of different ways. But really just playing to your strengths. Trying to dominate the glass. I thought he did a great job against Siena and rebounding the basketball. He had 15 rebounds. That's what he needs to do. He needs to continue to rebound at that level.

Q. I think you were maybe 10 or so when Purdue went to the Final Four in 1980. What are your memories of that team?
COACH PAINTER: I don't remember it, actually, to be honest with you. I do remember the Final Four with UCLA. I remember Larry Brown obviously got beat by Louisville and Darrell Griffith. I remember that part of it. But I don't remember, actually back then they had third place games. Iowa and Purdue played, but I don't recall the semifinal games. It happens when you're that young.

Q. Did you go to any of those games?
COACH PAINTER: No, I did not.

Q. I watched your game versus Duke last season. How much did that weigh on your guys?
COACH PAINTER: Well, I think it gives you any time you play somebody before, it gives you that reference. To make adjustments, to see some things maybe you did well at. I thought we did some things pretty good in the first part of the game and just missed shots. Had some good looks at the basket. A game is always going to be different when you play at home. This will be different, obviously. You're playing on a neutral court in a different setting. Obviously it means a lot more in the Sweet 16.
But, you know, Duke simply played harder than us and they were tougher than us. To have a chance to beat them, you have to play harder, you have to be tougher than them. So I think that's probably the ultimate challenge for us. Just first and foremost putting ourselves in that position. You have to be able to handle those two things to put yourself in that position.
THE MODERATOR: Question for the student-athletes.

Q. A lot of people have been talking about what does Purdue have to do to combat this against Duke or that against Duke. But turn the tables for me. What's Duke going to have to do to beat Purdue? You guys have your own entity. You've developed your own way that you play without Rob. What are they going to have to attack?
JaJUAN JOHNSON: I would say they just have to play their style of basketball. That's do the things they do well. They get their shooters open, they crash the glass hard. They're real tough and physical inside. So I mean, I just think they would just have to stick with their strengths just like we would have to do with us.

Q. How strong a feeling, if any, is there among the Purdue players about some possible payback tomorrow night for last season's loss to Duke? Coach has described it as a pretty thorough whipping for you guys.
CHRIS KRAMER: Yeah, to say the least. It was a whipping. But it's a great opportunity for us. A chance to get that redemption after, you know, getting embarrassed last season and to get this opportunity in the Sweet 16 on the biggest stage in college basketball, it's a great opportunity for our team.

Q. Can you talk about since Robbie's injury how your position has changed and how your role has changed and what you have to do differently now?
CHRIS KRAMER: Well, since Rob went down I've had to guard the other teams like four men. I've guarded the bigger players rather than guarding the perimeter. So it's definitely more of a challenge guarding post players.
Playing defense, you know, and rebounding will be even more of a key for myself. And since Rob's been down I've been trying to be more aggressive on the offensive end. Looking for your shot a little bit more because you don't have that big threat with Rob not being out there.

Q. How long did it take you guys to reinvent yourself once Robbie went down? At what point was there a light bulb moment where you guys kind of, yeah, we've got it. This is who we are now and went from there?
E'TWAUN MOORE: I mean, once he went down, we knew he was gone for the rest of the season. So, the next game, we had to automatically just learn to play without him. I mean, just right from the jump we did. I mean, we knew he was gone and we knew we were all we had. The next game was Michigan State, we didn't win, didn't play good. But I think that's definitely when we knew that we had a different change of style. We had to play without him, and just go and get better within ourselves.

Q. How long after Robbie's injury did it take you to realize that things were going to be kind of different for you?
CHRIS KRAMER: Right when he went down. I mean, that's just a big-time threat for a team. He went down in that Minnesota game, and I was guarding Ralph Sampson, Colton Iverson, two dudes that are like 7-foot, and being 6'3", it's kind of a hard match-up. That's when it kind of set in that you're going to be playing against bigger post players.
You've got to go out there and battle and do your best to not let them get the ball on the post. And to block them out so they don't get the ball even if you don't get it.

Q. You're a defensive guy, but how do you make that adjustment to guarding guys that are, you know, so much bigger than you?
CHRIS KRAMER: Actually, I think it's a lot easier than guarding on the perimeter. So many guys are so good. Off the bounce, you're coming off screens, if you can just beat big guys to positions on the court and not let them get the ball in the post and then block out, most guys have a tough time being successful. That's just what I try to do.

Q. You're like, what, 6'10"?

Q. Duke has three bigs that they can rotate against you. What do you think of that match-up?
JaJUAN JOHNSON: I mean, it's going to be a tough match-up. Obviously, you know, you said they have a lot of bigs. Pretty much I've just got to do what I've been doing all year and that is just running the floor, making extra effort plays. You know, it might be a little tough at times. But, like I said, I've just got to do the things I can control, and that is rebounding to the highest of my ability just running the floor.

Q. Working on a story about Evan Turner. You've guarded him. You've seen him develop. He was named player of the year by the writers. What are your thoughts on his game and how he's developed?
CHRIS KRAMER: I mean there's no secret Evan Turner is -- you said it -- the writers voted him player of the year. Just from when Evan was a freshman until now he's made so many strides. You know, he's always been able to get to the rim and be successful using spin moves. But he gets everyone on his team involved. He's becoming a consistent mid range jump shooter. Can step out and hit some threes now.
Just the leadership he shows down the stretch of the game where he's going to take over either making plays for his teammates or for himself. He's just a complete player.

Q. You talk about guarding guys inside and out. Singler is a guy that can do both. Can you just talk about the match-up that that will present tomorrow?
CHRIS KRAMER: You know, Kyle Singler is one of the best players in the ACC and in the country. He can score in a variety of ways. You know, one thing you've got to do is make him work for everything.
He's going to score, there is no doubt about that. You've just got to try to make it tough on him. Make him score over top of you. You can't let him get to the foul line. You can't let him get any easy buckets or lay-ups. When he shoots it, you have to block him out because he's great at getting his own misses.

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