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HUTTON: Area recruits would help Matt Painter restore Purdue’s luster

MADISON WI - MARCH 05: Head Coach Matt Painter Purdue Boilermakers talks his team during time out first half play

MADISON, WI - MARCH 05: Head Coach Matt Painter of the Purdue Boilermakers talks to his team during a time out in the first half of play against the Wisconsin Badgers at Kohl Center on March 05, 2014 in Madison, Wisconsin. (Photo by Mike McGinnis/Getty Images) ORG XMIT: 452784363

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Updated: April 12, 2014 6:20AM



I like Matt Painter, so I’m going to offer some free advice. Advice I’d never just give away to Tom Crean ’cause everyone around knows Indiana isn’t really serious about recruiting this corner of the state.

When is the last time they were really interested in a Region kid? Matt Nover back in 1988. Dan Dakich before that 1981. Those were just a couple of phone calls. They weren’t must gets. They were players that fit Bobby Knight’s system. He didn’t have to leave his office to recruit them.

Here is what I have to say to you, Matt.

Spend as much as time as possible at East Chicago next year. Follow Hyron Edwards around like a puppy dog. Confess your love unconditionally to the dynamic point guard. Save your best stuff for the phone calls and texts. He’s a game changer.

Do the same with Davon Dillard at Bowman. Sit in the stands where people can see you. We appreciate that kind of attention. Dillard possesses the kind of athleticism and potential that can help Purdue get back to where it once was. Remember the class of 2007, Matt? Those were good times. They were good because of Robbie Hummel, E’Twuan Moore and Scott Martin.

All top 100 kids — two in the NBA and one playing overseas. So Martin didn’t work out. It was still a team infused with the indomitable spirit of Northwest Indiana kids. They were tough. And they won. It’s no coincidence Purdue was good then. It’s not accidental that you were able to avoid a season ending conversation like the one you had Sunday, after an embarrassing loss to Northwestern at home on Senior Day, when those guys were playing.

This is what you said, “First of all, it’s my fault. It’s my job to get guys to play together, it’s my job to get guys to play, it’s my job to get guys to play smart, and we don’t do any of those. And so that is my fault. When you start off, people will always give you a break. But when you’re somewhere for nine years, they shouldn’t. They absolutely shouldn’t, because it is my fault we are in this position.”

“We have to a recruit a more unselfish player, we have to recruit a tougher player. We have some of those guys in our program, some guys who don’t.

“And that’s my fault. This isn’t a school district, I recruited these guys.”

We appreciate your honesty. We like that about you. You aren’t afraid to take responsibility.

You’ve had one good run in nine years Matt. That came after Hummel, Martin and Moore played.

We know you are trying to shore things up around here. That’s part of the reason why you hired Kenny Lowe (West Side) and Brandon Brantley (Andrean and East Chicago) as assistants. I know recruiting is a funny business, Matt, and you never can tell with kids what they are going to do. I know it’s not really all your fault.

But you gotta admit that not going after Glenn Robinson III was a big mistake. Pretty sure, had you shown him just a little love, he’d be a Boilermaker today. No player around here typifies Region toughness like Robinson.

I know you were furious when Tom Izzo stole Branden Dawson away from you, like it was a nighttime bank heist.

I know some fences need to be mended with some of the AAU coaches around here who influence these kids.

I know you are a coach of principal and integrity, Matt, and that ultimately, you will do it your way.

I know you are trying because I saw you at the Bowman-East Chicago game.

Here is the thing, Matt. I’m worried. I look around the Big Ten and I see old, young coaches like John Beilein at Michigan and young, hip coaches like Chris Collins at Northwestern and Tim Miles at Nebraska and they are going to pass you by if you don’t figure it out. I don’t need to tell you how Beilein has turned Indiana into his own recruiting play ground.

Deep down you know that should’ve never happened, Matt. But it did and now you have to figure it out.

We both know you can’t back to where you were unless you get the players. I’m afraid it won’t end well for you if you aren’t able to find guys like Moore and Hummel. I think you need to start here, right now, before it’s too late. I think there is time but you have to hurry.

That’s all Matt. I hope it works out for you.



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