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October 27, 2011

Matt Painter


THE MODERATOR: Coach, an opening statement.
COACH PAINTER: Good morning. Obviously very excited about our season this year. Looking forward to blending a lot of guys together with experience and a couple of new guys.
But just looking forward to Rob Hummel getting back in the fold, and he's looked very good in practices, and getting him back to All-American form when he got hurt the first time a year and a half ago.
And I think we have very good senior leadership with Lewis Jackson and Ryne Smith and Rob Hummel, and then we have seven guys that have started at least four or five games in their career with five guys that have started a good chunk of Big Ten seasons if not a couple of Big Ten seasons.
We lose two key guys in E'Twaun Moore and JaJuan Johnson and offensively we will be a different team. But hopefully through practice and hard work we can still take care of the basketball, play good half-court defense and be a good rebounding team.

Q. How soon before we see the Robbie Hummel before this extended layoff?
COACH PAINTER: How soon we will see him?

Q. The old Robbie Hummel, the one it's been so long since we've seen.
COACH PAINTER: A lot of times when you have guys that have success and they're out for a little while, I think it gets a little mythical, like they had a cape when they played before. But Rob is a guy that I've always described as someone who defers to others.
Very few great players in college basketball you could say that about. He makes other people around him better. He does little things. I think you could stand him out there with crutches and you could still help your team win.
But now that he's getting back into practice and playing, he looks different to me in terms of he came in as a -- looked like a little kid as an 18-, 19-year-old, and now he's a grown man at 6'8", 220. He's always been a knowledgeable guy, and now he's got a lot of experience.
I think sitting out and understanding the game is one thing, but being able to sit out as much as he did, I think it will really help him even more of just making good decisions and helping other guys out on the court.
But we expect him to have the best season of his career.

Q. Will Robbie's game have to change in any dramatic way? Will the way he approaches the game, what he does on the floor, change now without E'Twaun and without JaJuan?
COACH PAINTER: I think it changes in terms of he was a guy we had always played through. He's such a selfless guy. And he's always going to make the extra pass and make that next play.
He's got to make sure that now that next play is better for Purdue instead of maybe being a little bit what some people would call selfish in terms of maybe taking that uncontested shot; I would look at it as an unselfish play because maybe it's a higher percentage shot than making an extra pass for that next guy.
So we always had Rob with a guy named Chris Kramer, and the two of those guys together really made for a great team, along with two other scorers, because those guys were so unselfish.
But I think he's going to be -- he's bigger. I think he's better. And I think he's really going to cause problems for teams in our league in terms of the matchup, and that's something we've always played off in the past.
Like I said earlier, I expect him to have the best season of his career. And that's just from going from watching him for the past couple of months. He looks great to me.

Q. You had the opportunity over the summer to coach Mbakwe. What did you learn about him that maybe you didn't know before as a player and as a person and how good can he be this season?
COACH PAINTER: First of all, I had a very positive experience with him. I thought he was a great player, great person, very engaging, good guy, wants to win. They have a stat in international basketball. First time I got a box score it said FD. I wanted to know what's FD mean on a box score. And it's foul strong. And Trevor had games of eight, nine, 11, 12, where they simply couldn't guard him because of his brute strength.
He's is not just one of the best players in the Big Ten, he's one of the best players in the country. He can dominate the game on the glass. And shot blocking ability. He's big, he's physical, he's fast, and he's a good teammate.
And so with those things and those qualities right there, obviously it makes Minnesota a big-time threat in our league.

Q. A few minutes ago we heard from Thad Matta about how much Sullinger has worked and different ways he's improved. At the same time we've had the announcement of him being the Pre-Season Player, and that's with nobody having seen that improvement. So, as a coach, when you hear that about a guy who people say might be the best guy in the league, what are you thinking and what kind of problems does it present to cover him? You just went through that discussion about someone else who -- sounded like you could have been talking about Sullinger almost.
COACH PAINTER: Obviously Jared Sullinger is a great player. The thing -- you know, he has a lot of physical tools. But, to go along with that, I think what makes him special is his understanding of the game. And when he gets the ball in the post, you know, he's a threat to score at all times from his physical strength and skill level, but he's also got a high basketball IQ. I think sometimes that gets lost in discussions when people talk about improvements.
You can get better, but are you getting better at thinking the game? Jared Sullinger, his dad's a good guy, he's a good coach. He's brought him up in the game, thinking the game, and that to me causes us more problems.
Obviously he's a tough matchup just to start with. But when you stick, you know, Lighty and Buford and Diebler and Craft with him, and all those guys can dribble, pass, and shoot -- you know, they beat us by 25 at their place last year. Could have been 45. They called off the dogs.
We ended up beating them at our place. And I really had no game plan, because I don't know how to stop Jared Sullinger.
I think when they're clicking and he's making good decisions and they're getting the ball to him, that's the best thing to do is just try to keep the ball out of great players' hands, because once he gets it into that sweet spot down there, he gets you on his backside.
Prayer. That's the only thing I would say. Good solid prayer. You hope he misses. Don't give him an angle.

Q. What do you need to see from Ryne Smith and his ability to play the 3? Even though he doesn't look like a 4, sometimes he sort of plays it. What do you need from him?
COACH PAINTER: We'll play him at the 2, at that small -- the smaller of the two guards. We're going to try to play a bigger guy at the 3. I don't think that puts him in good light. And obviously in particular matchups we'll play at times with three smaller guys if we think that's advantageous to us.
But just his ability to run and shoot and be cerebral. He's a guy I feel can shoot 50 percent from the 3 this year. He shot 44 percent overall and 47 in the league. Or vice versa. I don't know if I have that correct.
So just his leadership, his ability to shoot the basketball, his toughness. He's had to fight awfully hard to get to where he is from a defensive standpoint. Still needs to continue to make improvements in that area.
But just a great kid and a great shooter. And anytime you have a guy like that on the court, then obviously Rob Hummel -- you're able to stretch the defense and it helps with your spacing.

Q. Can you talk about how the Mackey renovations have positively and negatively affected your team and newer coaching staff in preparation for this season?
COACH PAINTER: I don't think it's affected this team. We're hoping that it affects recruiting and helps us with young people as they come through and see what we have.
But obviously we're getting a new practice facility. There's an upgrade to Mackey Arena in a lot of areas. But you get a new locker room, practice facility, sports medicine, our academic center, everything has gotten touched within our program.
So it's been great for our players. But you just hope it helps you keep up with the Joneses and allows you to recruit and stay up with everybody else and help your program.
THE MODERATOR: Thank you, Coach.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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