posttrib
PICTURESQUE 
Weather Updates

Men’s basketball: Frustrations boiling over for young Purdue squad

Updated: January 5, 2013 6:22AM



A team might learn more in defeat than in victory. But it’s to a point. And at this point, Purdue’s young, work-in-progress team — how many times, and in how many forms can such attributes be referenced? — is well on its way to earning a doctorate.

The Boilermakers fell to 3-4 with Saturday’s loss to Xavier at Mackey Arena, their worst start since the 2005-06 season, Matt Painter’s first as coach. No one is suggesting they’re headed toward a similar 9-19 record. But there’s increasing frustration and concern that, despite development, it isn’t happening quickly enough, and without the desired tangible results.

“They always say you need one loss to teach a lesson, you don’t need two,” Painter said. “We keep losing, and obviously you’d like to be able to get some things corrected. But you have to stay with it. I like our talent, I just don’t like our discipline, I don’t like our inexperience. But I do like our young guys. We just have to stay with it.

“I have to do a better job as a coach defining their roles. I’ve always allowed guys to continue to play through things when I know they have the ability to do stuff. But after a while, you have to lock them down a little bit and not let them do certain things until they start to get a little bit more confidence and a little bit more success, and play better. At times, that hurts them, then at times like this where I think it helps them — even though they might not look at it that way, but I think it does.”

The main culprit in Purdue’s loss to the Musketeers was an extreme lack of outside shooting and, relatedly, an inability to get the ball inside often enough, especially to 7-foot freshman center A.J. Hammons. The Boilermakers missed all 17 of their 3-point attempts, the first time they failed to hit from long range at least once in a game since Feb. 22, 1992, at then-No. 11 Michigan State; in that 70-68 loss to the Spartans during Painter’s junior season, Travis Trice missed the only 3-pointer they shot.

“Some of them we took were a little rushed, maybe a little forced sometimes,” said senior swingman D.J. Byrd, who went 0-of-9 from 3 against Xavier. “But sometimes those go in, but not all the time. So we have to stick with what works for us, and really focus on the things that we need to do to get those good looks and get those open shots, and that’s throwing the ball inside and working off drive-and-kicks.”

Purdue’s next opportunity to get back on the winning track comes on Tuesday night against Lamar at Mackey. The Cardinals are 1-6 this season, after coach Pat Knight — he and Painter are good friends — debuted by taking the Southland Conference tournament champions to the 2012 NCAA Tournament, losing to Vermont in the First Four to finish with a 23-12 mark.

“The timing of this game, it’s just more about us,” Painter said. “We have to do a better job of not beating ourselves — that’s really what I think we’ve done. I don’t want to take anything away from any of the teams that have beat us, because they’ve earned that. But from the position I’m in as the coach of Purdue, I just feel like Purdue’s beat Purdue. We have to do a better job of giving ourselves a chance, and really just playing to our strengths.”

Junior guard Terone Johnson, one of the Boilermakers’ veteran leaders, was asked what advice he would have for his younger teammates.

“Just stay the course of the game; it’s a long game,” he said. “You might get down, you might get up, but you just try to stay the course of the game, and try to stay confident throughout the whole game, whether you’re down or up.”



© 2014 Sun-Times Media, LLC. All rights reserved. This material may not be copied or distributed without permission. For more information about reprints and permissions, visit www.suntimesreprints.com. To order a reprint of this article, click here.