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March 17, 2011
GREG GREENWELL: From Purdue we have Lewis Jackson, JaJuan Johnson, and E'Twaun Moore. We'll go ahead and get started with questions.
Q. For both Lew and E'Twaun. Now that you're a little bit shorter in the backcourt, Lew, you've always played to exhaustion, the way Coach Painter said, and then you can get some sub. How are you backcourt guys? How can you adjust? Can you tell us a little bit about any alterations in the way you'll play just because of being a little shorthanded?
LEWIS JACKSON: It's kind of unfortunate, but I think we're going to be okay. E'Twaun normally logs 40 minutes. So that's nothing new. With my situation, I'll probably have to play a little bit longer, but we've still got Terone, still got Ryne, still got John and other players we can bring in.
I think Terone will have to step up. He's probably going to be asked to play a little more minutes. But he'll probably rely on the older guards to figure it out.
E'TWAUN MOORE: Like Lewis said, you know, I already played a lot of minutes, so it's probably not going to change a whole lot. We've got a few other guys probably just play a few more minutes also. So I think everything should be fine.
Q. For E'Twaun and JaJuan, what changes in your mindset, you guys, now that you're here in the NCAA Tournament knowing you're seniors and the pressure's on that your next loss could be your last in a Purdue uniform.
E'TWAUN MOORE: Just gives us a sense of urgency knowing that we've got to go out there and play well, the NCAA Tournament. This time of year, everyone's playing for a championship.
So just got to boost your level of playing and going out and be ready to compete and play hard.
JAJUAN JOHNSON: You know, this is our last time playing in the NCAA Tournament. You definitely want to have a good showing. Everyone's pretty much playing for the same thing. So we just know we can't come back next year and get back to the NCAA.
So we're going to be playing with a lot of emotion and things like that.
Q. For any of you, when we talked to you Sunday night, you really hadn't seen St. Peter's yet. Lewis, you didn't even know much about them at the time. Now that you've watched film, gone through the scouting report, what impressed you about what they have done, their body of work to get here? What kind of challenges will they present?
LEWIS JACKSON: Just their body of work, they're in a good league with Siena. I know there's great competition there.
I think it's more about the story, the way Coach Painter told us the story of how they started as freshmen and struggled and stuck it out, and now they're in the NCAA Tournament. This older group of guys has been through a lot of wars.
First time here for their school. They want to make history. They want to fight. They're going to come out here and prove that they can play with us. So we have to take that they're a veteran group that's really looking forward to a win, and it's going to be a tough game.
JAJUAN JOHNSON: They're a team that really played hard. That's what we kind of get the same vibe watching film. They like to run and things like that. It's going to be important that we hit the glass and defend well because they have a lot of guys that are capable of scoring.
Q. You guys have lost two straight games. That doesn't happen very often. What's the atmosphere been like around practice? Has coach been particularly fired up the last few days? What's it been like?
E'TWAUN MOORE: Those losses, I mean, we just put us behind us knowing we're going into the tournament. We're definitely grateful to be here. I think the atmosphere has been very good. Everyone has had positive attitudes. We're ready to work hard, and everyone is fired up to go out and compete Friday.
Q. To any of the players, how big a distraction has the situation with Kelsey been? A lot of the so-called pundits around the country are saying now your work's -- it becomes even tougher without him. What do you think playing without him, how much more difficult does your task become?
JAJUAN JOHNSON: I think it will be fine. This team has definitely dealt with a lot of adversity. So we'll definitely overcome it. It's an unfortunate situation, but we're all going to be fine? We're just focusing on St. Peter's and trying to get this win.
Q. JaJuan, specifically to the St. Peter's matchup, I'm sure you've seen tape on them by now. What are your thoughts on your matchup, Ryan Bacon -- I know you've got a couple of inches on him. Just kind of what do you think of his game, and what have you seen on the tape? Who does it compare to and that kind of thing?
JAJUAN JOHNSON: He's really athletic. He plays extremely hard. I might have a couple inches on him, but he's going to try to be really physical. I'm going to have to run, set screens, and things like that.
You know, he's going to be a tough matchup. I don't know who we would compare him to in the Big Ten, but we have a few undersized bigs in the Big Ten. He's a good player.
Q. You guys have all been part of two of the wins that Purdue's had in opening round NCAA Tournament victories. Purdue's now won 12 first round games. Why do you guys think Purdue has been so successful in their first games in the NCAA Tournament?
LEWIS JACKSON: I think veteran leadership. I think we've had guys that have been there both times, really been in the first round and really understand how important that first round game is and not overlooking a team just because of their seeding.
I think that's really helped us in each of the wins we got in these last two first rounds.
Q. Guys, was it weird to have your program kind of the subject of rumors and stuff the last few days about how Ryne actually got the concussion?
LEWIS JACKSON: Yeah. I mean, I think more sort of to us it was more comical because you hear what people make up and just kind of the conclusions they come to. We kind of just laughed about it and stayed inside the family and kept working and not really worried about those rumors.
Q. Again, for any three of you, I don't know if you had a chance to see Andy Katz's bracket with President Obama, but he picked you guys to advance to the Elite Eight to beat Notre Dame. Just your thoughts about getting that kind of recognition.
JAJUAN JOHNSON: It's kind of cool, I guess, in a way, that the president picks us to go to Elite Eight. But it's the reason that you play the games.
I guess those people that they have us beating, I know they're not probably too happy about that. So we've just got to go out there and play hard and hopefully get some wins.
Q. Lewis, I'm sure all you guys have already been asked, so I apologize for coming in late. Losing Kelsey at this point of the season, how does that impact your entire team?
LEWIS JACKSON: I mean, it's a huge loss. I mean, just the talent that he is and what he brings to the table. But I think the best thing also about this team, we have guys that know they can step up and replace him and that one guy doesn't feel they have to do it by themself.
We're going to do it by committee. So the guys a little further behind him on the bench know it's their opportunity to come in and really make an impact. So I think guys are really looking forward to it.
GREG GREENWELL: Purdue Head Coach Matt Painter. Coach, if you could start with an opening statement.
COACH PAINTER: Obviously, like every other coach in the NCAA Tournament, we're very excited to be here. Just a great opportunity to be able to continue to play this time of the year and to work ourselves into the position we're in. I'm proud of our guys.
You know, they haven't played great basketball the last couple of games, and any time you get in that position, you want to continue to have that next game to prove yourselves, to prove that you're better.
So coming into the NCAA Tournament, I know you're guys are really looking forward to competing. We know it's going to be a tough game with St. Peter's, and our guys are very familiar with that league. Last year playing Siena in the first round, and we know how competitive they are and how hard they had to work to get in this position. So just looking forward to the challenge.
Q. You're short a reserve, a top reserve with Kelsey. So who can give you more? You're already a little bit depleted.
COACH PAINTER: I think any time something of that nature happens, whether it's suspension or someone gets into foul trouble or there's an injury, it's just the next man up. There's always going to be guys on your team that think they should be playing more.
Be careful what you ask for because you're going to get it. I don't think it really truly affects one guy. It affects your team. It affects two to three guys. He allowed us to be flexible defensively, and now we may not have that same flexibility on the defensive side. But I also think it can help us because some other guys are going to step up and play.
I said it earlier in the year when we lost a guy, we're not playing five on four. We're still going to play five on five. So it's just an opportunity for the next guy.
Q. So who does it affect the most then?
COACH PAINTER: I think Terone Johnson is probably the guy it affects the most considering he can play both spots. He can play the one and the two. E'Twaun's played some point for us also. When we go small and play four guards, it's going to affect D.J. Byrd. He can slide over if we play bigger.
E'Twaun plays the whole game anyways. Lewis has played about 25 to 30 minutes a game. Ryne Smith's a guy that's played a lot of minutes. So all those guys have been pretty consistent in terms of their minutes. But Terone is probably the one guy, if you had to target someone who's going to play a little bit more.
John Hart, it's an opportunity for him to play a little bit more, but he got hurt the other day in practice. So I don't know if he'll be able to go or not. We'll see with that.
Q. What sorts of things have you been emphasizing here? I know after the Iowa game you were emphasizing defense, and that didn't really manifest itself in a particularly good performance. So what sorts of things have you been emphasizing since the Michigan State loss?
COACH PAINTER: Same thing. That's why the loss against Michigan State, or the way we lost against Michigan State, especially in the first half, is a little disturbing because really just worked on getting two shooters, working on our defense, just being fundamentally sound on the defensive end.
And then something that I felt just that we've really at times been very good at through the year is just kind of being patiently aggressive on the offensive end. When it's not there, when we push it, just putting people on defense and letting them break down and then attacking after that breakdown. And against Michigan State we didn't do a good job of just showing that patience.
So we've got to push the basketball and get up and down the court. When you go against a set defense, you've got to show a little bit of patience and move the ball.
Q. Has Ryne been cleared to play?
COACH PAINTER: Yes, he's been cleared to play. He practiced yesterday. He missed -- let me think here. He missed Sunday and Monday, I think, of practice. Got hurt in Saturday's practice. He was out for two days when he got hit in the head.
Q. And did the rumors about how he got hit in the head, that Kelsey was involved, did that annoy you or you just laughed it off?
COACH PAINTER: I heard it roundabout. E'Twaun is the one who elbowed him in the head. I was nearby, but I didn't realize he got hit that hard. He got his bell rung. But it's par for the course.
Q. Matt, what impressed you about St. Peter's? When we talked to you Sunday night, you knew about Siena. You knew about that culture of that league. But you said I really don't know a whole lot. I'm sure you know a lot now. What can you share with us about what impresses you with St. Peter's?
COACH PAINTER: Really what impresses me about them more than anything is their makeup. They have a lot of seniors that played as freshmen and struggled. Each year they've made improvements. But it's such a microwave society when things don't go your way, kids leave, they point fingers, and this group didn't.
This group stuck together and kept fighting, and now they're seniors, and they're a very good basketball team. They will fight you. They're going to come at you and play very, very hard. They are all over the place. They swarm the basketball. They do a great job defensively. They're the best defensive team in that league. You have to be careful when they're around. They're always trying to get blocks, get steals, play the passing lanes.
And just how hard they play. He's done an unbelievable job, and it just kind of shows you their character and their makeup with those guys all sticking together and being able to make this run.
Q. When you have to make a decision like the one you did with Kelsey, what sorts of experiences do you draw upon to make that decision? And was it, in the end, a tough decision?
COACH PAINTER: I think -- there's two things you talk about or you look at; let's do what's best for the team, and let's do what's best for the individual.
You know, I try my best to be fair with guys and help them through things, but when you get a pattern of behavior, you go back to doing what's best for your team. And that's the decision that I made, and I felt it was best for our team and best for our seniors as we move forward.
Q. Matt, how frustrating or discouraging is it that you have to deal with this really at the best time of the year? I mean, it's what you as coaches coach for. It's what players play for. It's got to be awfully frustrating to have to deal with an off the court situation like Kelsey's suspension right now.
COACH PAINTER: If you let it get you, it's going to. The one thing that you try to do in coaching is be consumed with the guys that are here because we got some guys on our team that care, that want to see Purdue win. Sometimes when something like this happens, you hope it can draw your team closer together and really have that bond.
But it is disappointing. There's no question about it. But when you deal with young people, it's kind of a by-product of youth. You're going to make mistakes, and you're going to make mistakes over the course of time. You just don't want to see that consistent behavior. When you see that, I think you've got to make the best decision for your team.
Q. The school put out a statement regarding the "USA Today" story. I want to know if you have any interest in addressing that. You have a bunch of transfers that went into the numbers, but if you want to address some of that.
COACH PAINTER: Sure, I'll address that because I read the statement and I read what our school put out. It's a tough deal. It's not one of those blanket-type of things when you go in transition. But some of the things that happen in transition when you take over a job -- is there going to be some guys in your program that don't want to play for you? There's nothing wrong with that. And they can leave. It happens all across the country.
But the thing that really happened -- and it's my -- I guess it's my downfall. You're the head coach. You've got to take the blame for it is I recruited some guys I didn't have a relationship with because, when I recruited at Southern Illinois, the guys I recruited at Southern Illinois, you go to Purdue and say, now I need a little better player playing in the Big Ten at Purdue. I need a more athletic guy. I need a quicker guy.
So you take over, and it was a great position for me because you can really get a gauge because I was an assistant coach for a year, and you try to really figure some things out. The one thing that jumped out to me in that first year was we need to get better players.
The one thing I didn't have with some of the guys I recruited, I didn't have that two, three-year relationship. That's so important. It really taught me a valuable lesson because some of the kids we took were gone in a year. It's something you have to have in your program that really doesn't fit the APR, and that's discipline. And that's something that's not brought up in anything.
You know, we're going to have some order at Purdue. We've graduated our guys the last four years that have exhausted their eligibility. Ryne Smith and Lewis Jackson are going to graduate next year. It's going to be five. We have a great academic setup. We've proven that. And you can just look at the numbers.
But the one thing we're going to do is have discipline to go along with that. I thought it was important early in my career to get some of those guys and move them along. And sometimes in transferring it's positive. In this setup, it's looked at as a negative. Who in this room hasn't changed jobs? Who in this room hasn't gotten married, gotten divorced? There's change in life, and there's positive change.
You've got to be happy. And I don't want a kid at Purdue that doesn't want to be at Purdue. I want kids that want to come there. And when you have those relationships and you're able to recruit for two or three years, you know, you don't make as many of those mistakes. But when you come in transition, it's a very difficult task, and I think any coach in America would agree with that.
Q. That Michigan State game in Indianapolis, was that about as frustrated as you've been, both at your guys and at the officiating?
COACH PAINTER: I wasn't upset at the officiating. I was just trying to get our guys charged up. We just didn't have any life, even though they did miss a couple.
But the one thing I felt coming off the Iowa game is that we could compete, and we didn't compete. You have to defend, and you have to have respect for your opponent. Maybe I did a bad job of not getting our guys ready after we beat Michigan State twice during the season.
But I thought they'd be ready. I thought they'd understand that coming off that loss. And we just didn't do a very good job with that. We let Kalin Lucas get his head up. And once you get great players going, they're tough to stop.
Q. Matt, you and your program have a great run going in opening round games. 12 in a row Purdue has won. Why is that? Why the success in these first NCAA Tournament games for Purdue?
COACH PAINTER: You know, I really can't put my finger on it. Obviously, Purdue's had a pretty good program for many years. It's a very good basketball school. Obviously, Coach Keady did a good job in his 25 years. We try to get our teams ready and lock into our opponent, but also understand the most important thing is Purdue. Have our guys ready to play and compete and be together, and we've been fortunate enough to win some opening round games.
Q. I'm sorry that I don't know this. John Hart, what's the deal with him?
COACH PAINTER: He hurt his foot the other day in practice. He tried to go a little bit today, and he shot around a little bit, but he couldn't do everything. So we'll see if he can go.
Q. What would you say his status is?
COACH PAINTER: We are uncertain. Not being difficult. He's going to try -- they're going to try to modify his brace on his foot a little bit to see if he can go. But today it was kind of 50-50. He was kind of in and out. They were experimenting with this kind of a brace you put on your foot.
FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports