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Painter: Boilers need to play harder, tougher and smarter to win

Notre Dame guard Jerian Grant top Purdue forward D.J. Byrd go for loose ball first half an NCAA college basketball

Notre Dame guard Jerian Grant, top, and Purdue forward D.J. Byrd go for a loose ball in the first half of an NCAA college basketball game in Indianapolis, Saturday, Dec. 15, 2012. (AP Photo/Michael Conroy)

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Updated: January 19, 2013 6:20AM



Having reached double-digit games played this season, Purdue’s record stands at just 4-6.

The Boilermakers have lost three of their last four games.

They play Ball State (5-4) on Tuesday night at Mackey Arena, then don’t play again until Dec. 29 against William & Mary. Then it’s into a daunting Big Ten schedule with Illinois in town on Jan. 2.

But they’re not anywhere near ready to concede anything about this season.

“We’re not playing hard enough, we’re not playing tough enough, and we’re definitely not playing smart enough,” Purdue coach Matt Painter said. “But we have the ability to correct those things. If we didn’t, it would be one of those things where you cash your chips in and get ready for next year. That’s not the case with this team. We have enough talent to win. The key is, do we have the discipline to change some of our habits? That’s the No. 1 question for us. I feel we can do that. I’m confident we can do that. But it’s going to take some change from some individuals.”

The upperclassmen have to be the catalysts. They’ve been trying, but it has not translated into results, Painter said. Purdue’s problems have not stemmed exclusively from its youth.

“A lot of guys haven’t been through it before, but the guys that have been through it haven’t played up to their ability,” Painter said.

“They haven’t given us that consistency that we need, and it’s really been contagious as a group.

“I chalk it up to discipline, because age is just a number. We’ve had young people in here play with discipline. It doesn’t mean you have a great deal of experience, but you don’t beat yourself; we beat ourselves. Until we can learn to be more patient on offense and take care of the basketball and then carry out our assignments on the defensive end, it’s going to continue to happen. But I feel we have correctable mistakes.”

Senior swingman D.J. Byrd was asked about his message as a leader.

“Just do your job,” he said. “Everybody on the team has a certain role they need to play, and play it at a high level. Work hard and do your job are the two biggest things you have to try to get your team to do.

“We just have to change some things around in terms of taking care of the ball, and just playing with a lot of energy. Sometimes something bad happens, and some of us get down; we can’t have that attitude. We have to be able to come back the next play and get a stop, get a score, and don’t hurt our own selves during the game. … We can make strides in those areas.”

The Boilermakers have continued to focus on their decision-making, trying to cut down on their turnovers and improve their shot selection.

“You have to start somewhere,” Painter said. “We haven’t played fundamentally sound basketball. On a basketball team, you’re trying to get your guys and hold them accountable, but each guy has to do their job. We haven’t been able to get that, we haven’t been able to get guys just to simply be able to carry out their assignment during games. When you carry out your assignment, it gives you a chance to win.

“Our effort needs to be better, our competitive fight needs to be better. There’s no doubt making decisions and playing the game the right way has been our biggest hurdle.”

Rapheal Davis made some good decisions in Purdue’s loss to Notre Dame on Saturday. The freshman guard scored 21 points in the game’s final 10:22, playing 12 of his 18 minutes in the second half.

“It was great to see Rapheal continue to fight and make some plays,” said Painter, adding Davis was “a breath of fresh air” for the Boilermakers. “That’s what he can do — he can score the basketball.

Ball State, which has lost road games at both Indiana and Butler, has won three straight games, including a home-and-home sweep of South Dakota. Jesse Berry, a junior guard from Lafayette Jefferson, leads the Cardinals with 13.2 points per game. Majok Majok, a 6-foot-9 junior forward, averages 12.9 points and 11.1 rebounds; and senior guard Jauwan Scaife averages 10.0 points. Chris Bond, a 6-4 junior forward from Bowman Academy, has added 7.9 points and 4.8 rebounds.

“Jesse Berry’s a very talented guy that can get it going and score 25 to 30 points on you,” Painter said.

“They’ve been battle-tested, they’ve played some very good competition. … Coming in here, you know they’ve been in this type of environment.”

Around the rim: After missing the game against Notre Dame because of a right thigh injury, Donnie Hale should be able to play against Ball State. The redshirt freshman forward was able to participate in most of Sunday’s practice. … Purdue is 8-2 all-time against Ball State, including 6-0 at home. The teams played three straight seasons from 2007-08 through 2009-10, with the Boilermakers winning once each in West Lafayette, Muncie and Indianapolis (as part of the Wooden Tradition).



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