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Men’s Basketball: Boilers working on ‘identity crisis’

Purdue head coach Matt Painter calls out an official during first half an NCAA college basketball game against OregState consolatiround

Purdue head coach Matt Painter calls out to an official during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game against Oregon State in the consolation round of the 2K Sports Classic at Madison Square Garden, Friday, Nov. 16, 2012, in New York. Oregon State beat Purdue, 66-58. (AP Photo/Jason DeCrow)

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Updated: December 22, 2012 6:34AM



At 1-3, Purdue is off to its worst start in coach Matt Painter’s eight seasons.

The Boilermakers went 9-19 in his first season of 2005-06, yet still opened 2-3. They started 1-5 in 2004-05, Gene Keady’s last season that concluded with a 7-21 record.

So, certainly, Painter is concerned. But he also believes in this team — especially if it adjusts its approach.

“We have the talent to beat other teams that we played — that’s the good,” said Painter, whose team plays UNC-Wilmington (1-2) on Wednesday night at Mackey Arena. “The bad is that we don’t have the maturity right now to win close games, and to be able to really play together, especially in crucial times. … We’re just trying to get that consistency, and get everybody on our team to accept their role, and find their role, and also to have some discipline.

“We don’t have one (an identity) — we have an identity crisis, because guys are thinking about themselves, thinking about their scoring, instead of thinking about the things that are going to help us win. It’s really disappointing, because we have guys that are older that have been here that are doing it. … That’s not a good sign.”

Of course, Purdue’s roster includes four freshmen and one redshirt freshman. But its issues go beyond inexperience, and the development process.

“I like our ability — that probably stands out,” Painter said. “I’ve coached teams before that have struggled, and you wonder if you have enough pieces, and I don’t wonder with that. I wonder about maturity, I wonder about toughness, and I wonder about making good decisions. All those things are a byproduct of youth, and it would be great if it was just our freshmen. But it’s also our older guys being able to accept their role and what they need to do. We have too many people on our team living through their shooting, and if you’re going to live and die on your shooting, you’re going to be dead a lot. You have to live and die on your effort.”

Painter mentioned senior swingman D.J. Byrd, junior guard Terone Johnson, redshirt sophomore guard Anthony Johnson and freshman point guard Ronnie Johnson. Byrd has taken the most shots on the team (45), followed by Anthony Johnson (36) and Ronnie Johnson (34), with Terone Johnson (who missed the season opener with a sprained ankle) fifth (29). Freshman center A.J. Hammons — coming off a 20-point, eight-rebound, 21-minute performance against Oregon State — has taken the fourth-most shots (30).

“We have to do a better job of getting the ball inside to our interior guys,” Painter said. “Those (four) guys have to make better decisions, and they have to take better shots. They just have to be better leaders for our team. We have too many guys thinking about scoring instead of thinking about winning. … We have to do a better job as a staff of getting that point across that we have to manufacture a good shot every time down.

“I don’t think we’ve shown the patience and discipline on the offensive end. We shoot the ball too quick, we shoot too many contested perimeter shots early in the shot clock.”

Painter also lamented the Boilermakers’ free-throw shooting. They have gone 58.3 percent (42-of-72) from the line, with him saying they could be 3-1 if that number were 75 percent.

“You never feel good when you lose,” Painter said. “But when do you lose, you get your point across, because they are listening more.”

The Boilermakers should get back into the win column against Wilmington, which was picked to finish last in the 11-team Colonial Athletic Association in the preseason poll. All-CAA 6-foot-8 senior forward Keith Rendleman averages 15.0 points and 9.3 rebounds, after going for 15.3 and 10.0 last season, for the Seahawks, under third-year former Tennessee coach Buzz Peterson.

“I really just focused on our guys. … Right now, it’s just trying to shore up our mistakes,” Painter said.



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