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March 20, 2011

JaJuan Johnson

E'Twaun Moore

Matt Painter


VCU - 94
Purdue - 76

GREG GREENWELL: From Purdue we have head Coach Matt Painter along with student-athletes JaJuan Johnson and E'Twaun Moore.
COACH PAINTER: You know, watching tape, and we always keep our focus on the game right in front of us. We watched, obviously, a lot of St. Peter's. And VCU has to play USC, beat USC. They have to come in here and beat a very good Georgetown team, and then you get ready for them.
It's interesting with particular teams and what they go through during the season because, if you watch VCU during a certain time of the season, you wouldn't have seen what you just watched out there. And then during another part of the season, you watch them in a four or five-game stretch, and you literally think they can beat anybody in the country. And that was an honest thought that I had before we played them. I made that statement. VCU can beat anybody in the country on a neutral court, and I believe that.
I think you saw a little of that today. I was hoping that that team didn't show up, but that team for VCU did show up. We had some shots go down, and we really struggled from a defensive standpoint in some basic things.
But I thought Joey Rodriguez was excellent. I thought he was the difference in the game. He ran the team. He found shooters. He found guys diving. He was persistent, very determined. And we just had a difficult time getting him corralled and getting him stopped.
You've got to give them credit. They have a great coach. They play hard. They're athletic. They're skilled. They're a championship caliber team. I know it's tough maybe for some people to understand that, but I think you just saw a glimpse of a team that can make even a deeper run in the NCAA Tournament.

Q. For both JaJuan and E'Twaun, Coach mentioned the defensive end of the court. They look like they were doing some nice slip screens, getting to the basket, and then their shooters were spotting up. Can you both just talk about, from a defensive standpoint, what went wrong tonight.
JAJUAN JOHNSON: You know, just honestly, it was just one of those nights. But it was just basic principles that we didn't execute on, and that's all on us.
Not taking nothing from VCU because they played really hard tonight, but just basic fundamental principles that tonight we didn't execute well.
E'TWAUN MOORE: Yeah, I mean, it was just basic things, not rotating to the ball, and we let them get their heads up and pick us apart.

Q. JaJuan, for you, can you just talk about the stellar careers you two had, how great it was, and how tough it is for it to come to an end on a night like this.
JAJUAN JOHNSON: It's rough right now, but probably maybe a few weeks from now you'll look back on it and just see the kind of career that we had.
I know as a freshman, just coming in with E'Twaun, he made me work harder early on. He had a lot of success, and he kind of just made me want to work harder to match the level that he was on. And I think we did a good job of just really picking up each other and just helping get wins for Purdue.
E'TWAUN MOORE: I think it's been great that we both improved a lot since our freshman year and just show our hard work and dedication and how much we love playing basketball. Hopefully, we've got a lot more basketball left.

Q. JaJuan, it just seemed like, even when Ryne Smith was hitting shots to kind of keep you from teetering on the edge, was there a sense that VCU just had that -- they just had it going tonight. It's like the golfer that goes out and shoots 10 under par. Was it one of those nights where they just could not do anything wrong?
JAJUAN JOHNSON: Yeah. Like I said, they played a really good game. Especially in the first half. We dug ourself in a little hole and got down by ten. Any time you get down by ten, especially against a good shooting team that have a good inside presence, it's always hard to come back from those.
You waste a lot of energy fighting back, and then they make the little run, and you chip away. But it came back to bite us in the butt. You know, just that first half really.

Q. So much was said early in the year when you lost Robbie about the responsibility falls on everybody else. Was it a matter tonight -- and you had a great season. Was it just a matter tonight of not having the fire power that the teams from here on have?
JAJUAN JOHNSON: I don't think so. We beat Ohio State with this team. I mean, they're the number one team in the country, number one overall seed. So we definitely had all the pieces to do it.
I just think tonight wasn't our night. I said earlier we didn't execute like we usually do. Both ends really. And like I said, it just came back to bite us.

Q. This tournament is so great, but for seniors, obviously, if you don't reach the Final Four, if you don't win the National Championship, there's such a drastic finality to it. Is that, as a young person, just sort of, boom, in 40 minutes it's over? Is that really tough to handle?
E'TWAUN MOORE: Of course it's tough to handle. You want to go out on top and try to go to the Final Four and win a championship. But we fell short. We'll keep our heads up.

Q. E'Twaun, Coach mentioned how well Rodriguez played. He said it was the difference, 11 assists and 12 turnovers. From your perspective -- I mean, you weren't on him -- but how well did he guide what they were trying to do?
E'TWAUN MOORE: He did a good job. He did a good job of getting the players involved and getting them open shots.

Q. Matt, can you just talk about the dichotomy of two stellar careers coming to the end. It's such a tough loss.
COACH PAINTER: You want those guys to go out with a bang, and they deserve better than this. But so do a lot of seniors across the country. These guys have been unbelievable for our program. They played hard. They're both going to graduate here in the spring, and they've really given us a gauge on what you're supposed to do and how you handle your business on and off the court.
You know, both guys, I always talk about those guys together. They just have a lot of similarities. They're just two classy guys that have worked hard, and it's unfortunate it's got to come to an end.

Q. Matt, you talked about the couple of basic things. It looked like they just got some slip screens and got to the basket time and time again in that one stretch there in the first half. You called a couple time-outs. What went wrong? What were you not doing, or what were they doing well?
COACH PAINTER: They were very good tonight, and we were very bad on the defensive end. Some basic things we didn't cover up when the ball went away from us and some ball screen action. I can explain it to you right now, and you can digest it if you want.
A lot of times in pick and roll action, there's an indirect guy. There's a guy you're going away from. And while you're going away from it stopping the basketball, somebody is diving. And the guy furthest away from the basketball must come over and take him so he's not open. And then they skip it to his man, and he's got to get on his course and go cover him.
We were staying with that guy after we worked for two, three, four years, depending on who the individual is, of taking that guy, stopping the layup, and then trying to play on air time when the ball goes up. We had it happen four straight times beginning of the second half to three different guys. And each time we kept talking about it, but it's not something that they do that somebody else doesn't do. It's a fundamental part of our defense.
And our guys kept staying out and staying with the shooter when, in reality, you've got to stop layups and work your way out. And it just really exposed us.

Q. You shot 45 percent, but it looked like you missed a lot of chippies down low. Was that a credit to their defense, or could you just not get the ball to go down?
COACH PAINTER: A little bit of both. I like their athleticism. I like their length. They throw a lot of different guys at you.
Like I said earlier, you watch them on tape, and they're very good defensively. You watch them on another tape, and they're just okay. Today I thought they were pretty good.
76 points is enough points to win. But if someone is going to put 94 -- we told them after a while, they're going to score 100 points on you. We just couldn't get them corralled. We couldn't get them stopped.
Offensively, we had some things not go our way, but not a lot. Not a lot. That's enough points to win a game in the NCAA Tournament.

Q. Matt, you typically throughout your coaching career talk about not making excuses. How difficult was it to defend VCU without Kelsey Barlow tonight?
COACH PAINTER: I don't think that had anything to do with it. Obviously, he gives you athleticism and length. He's a versatile guy you can put on a lot of different people. We still get beat with him. There's no question. They were very good. They were beating a lot of people tonight.

Q. Matt, kind of lost in all this, Ryne really kept you in it. You might have been down 25, 28 points in the first half. He seemed to be, at least offensively, the one guy that really was dialed in tonight. He got some good looks, didn't he?
COACH PAINTER: Yeah, Ryne was able to knock down some shots early and get in a little bit of a rhythm. I like to see him when he gets in that kind of a rhythm. We saw it the first three, four games of Big Ten play, to shoot more.
He was pretty unselfish, and he passed up a couple of shots that I thought he should have let go. When he makes shots like that -- and we've always talked about it -- it really gives us a spark and really helps us.

Q. Robbie was pretty broken up after the game. Can you speak to his emotion, what he was going through on the bench and the fact you didn't have his services.
COACH PAINTER: Obviously, Rob's a good guy. The things that have happened to him, you couldn't control. That's a tough pill to swallow. You still carry some guilt even though you couldn't control it, like if I could have been out there helping those guys, maybe this wouldn't have happened. So I think you have a lot of honest feelings at this time.
It's just sad to see those guys finish their career. He feels for E'Twaun and JaJuan, and they've been great for our program. And Rob's been unbelievable for our program.

Q. Matt, you lose two -- maybe two of the greatest players ever at Purdue, but in looking forward -- I mean, it's not a good time to do that, but you got a lot of pieces back, and if Rob comes back healthy with a couple of those recruits, are you -- I mean, you're always excited. Could you address looking ahead next year. Are you excited about that club?
COACH PAINTER: I think some guys are going to have to make some improvements. I think, when you have a couple horses like E'Twaun Moore and JaJuan Johnson, you play through them, you play off them, and you play roles. Obviously, with Rob coming back, the dynamic of our team, especially offensively, will be different.
But the two kids we signed with Anthony Johnson and Rob coming here, I think we'll have some athleticism and ability to really get out and pressure and do some things. But it's really going to be up to those guys.
You're going to have to make some improvements and get better, each guy, and we need freshmen to make that jump to sophomore year and sophomores to juniors. But who doesn't? Everybody in the country needs those things. But, no, we're excited about where we're going.

Q. When you look back at this season, just how proud are you of these guys, what they were able to accomplish and the obstacles they had thrown in their way? Do you leave a game like this, as a coach, dissecting and thinking, we need to do this, we need to do that, we need this kind of personnel?
COACH PAINTER: Well, I'm pleased with those guys. They're classy guys, and then they both have good stories. A lot of times, a lot of the stories across the country, you know, people kind of dwell on the negativity of some things in college basketball, but in reality, college basketball is pretty good.
These two guys have been great examples of what you're supposed to do on and off the court. What was the second part of your question?

Q. Do you leave this game thinking we need this piece or that piece? We need to get better in this department or that department?
COACH PAINTER: I think, sure, when you get beat like that, you lose your train of thought sometimes when someone scores 94 points. But like JaJuan said, I thought we had the pieces. Little different group from last year without Keaton Grant, Chris Kramer, and now Rob Goebel, but we still have the pieces.
Like JaJuan said, we beat Ohio State, which is a pretty good team. And we beat some pretty good teams this year as a group. We had this guy, we had that guy. We had to play better. You just can't let them do whatever the heck they want on the offensive end.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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