Purdue Head Coach Matt Painter spoke to the media after losing to the Michigan Wolverines 75-66 in the Big 10 tournament at Madison Square Garden.
THE MODERATOR: Coach, an opening statement.
COACH PAINTER: Congratulations obviously goes out to Michigan. I thought they played a very good game. A very tough matchup for anybody in the country, well-coached. Have really kind of scrapped their offense and just tried to spread people out and break people down within our league, especially us because of our size.
And I thought they did a really good job of moving the basketball, kind of finding the matchups they want, breaking us down off the dribble. We were fortunate I felt to be down five at half. They missed some open shots and I thought we could make a little run there.
In the beginning of the second half, we’d get two or three stops, about three stops in a row, but we couldn’t get an offensive rebound. Then when we would go to the matchup, to try to switch and then they had a size advantage down low on a couple of rebounds. We got a foul called against us we couldn’t get a couple of balls.
I thought that was a real important time in the game. They gained momentum will, never looked back. I thought the guys at the end we gave some energy and we played hard but that happens after you get down at that time. But hats off to Michigan for winning the Big Ten Tournament.
Q. Isaac, if you can assess just what you thought of your team’s effort in this game?
ISAAC HAAS: I thought that at the beginning that we didn’t give our best effort. And I think that showed. And then towards the end of the second half we showed pretty well, pretty good effort. But it was too late by that time.
Q. Isaac, with Jon Teske in the game instead of Wagner what are the differences between those two? And what were the challenges of Teske today?
ISAAC HAAS: I think he hit a few crucial shots for them. He played well. So you’ve got to give him credit. Wagner obviously is a guy, he can pick and pop and do a lot of things. So you’ve got to respect them on that. And he did his thing. And we just let Teske be a part of the game.
Q. Isaac, I know it’s obviously not the result you will vote for, but how much has Carsen grown in meaning to you guys in these last couple of months, in particular in a tournament setting? He had such a strong setting here.
ISAAC HAAS: I think he’s a great player. He does good things for us. He’s able to go get a bucket if we need one. He’s an elite scorer and people don’t respect him as such, I feel like sometimes. And I think he does a great job creating opportunities for others as well.
I think he’s done a really good job maturing this year and I think he’s a huge part of this team.
THE MODERATOR: Thank you. Questions for Coach.
Q. Basically the same question. I know it’s not the game you wanted to have, but not just tonight but this weekend and just these last couple of months how much has Carsen grown in meaning to you guys?
COACH PAINTER: Well, Carsen is a very dynamic player. And he can really get on — he can get into runs where he scores the basketball.
Just kind of finding that rhythm in a game, like getting those rhythm, pull-up 3s and getting to the rim. Whenever he’s driving the basketball and getting his layups and getting to the free-throw line to go along with his 3s, that’s kind of the total package for him.
But he’s really grown here going from January to February you’ll watch tape even of some games earlier, like when we played Michigan, you can see how he’s grown and been able to take advantage of some opportunities. He’s hard to deal with once he gets an angle, then if you back up whatever he’s got such a quick trigger, he’s hard to guard.
Tonight he just really didn’t get in a rhythm. He had a couple of drives that didn’t go down for him, and he had a couple of 3s where he could never get back-to-back pullups or back-to-back pullup 3s to get into that rhythm. But he’s been fabulous for us.
Q. Seemed like they were having a lot of success screening especially in the first half. What was going on, was it lack of communication on defense from you guys?
COACH PAINTER: A little bit of both. We were guarding it different with Teske. But it was more penetration. Our weak side and our guys in ball-screen defense, sometimes when the ball got deep, had to stay home. And you gotta force them to throw the ball out and they didn’t do that.
Our guys sometimes will get really enamored sometimes with guys that can shoot the basketball, especially on the weak side. You’ve got to be able to come to it.
But I thought we struggled to contain the dribble more than anything and that opened some things up for Teske. Because when they drove then we had the help, then they made passes. A couple of them were off ball screens but a couple of them were simply off us not being able to contain the dribble.
Q. You guys are still probably going to be like a top 2, top 3 NCAA Tournament seed. When you sort of look at what you guys are going to be doing over the next week, is there one thing maybe you think you need to focus on, perhaps it’s a ball-screen defense, as you just mentioned, or something like that?
COACH PAINTER: They’re a unique team. Playing Michigan, John has a great system, even though they have gone away from their system a lot and just kind of spread things out.
But you’re going to play people that are going to run ball screen motion. 90 percent of the country runs ball screen motion.
So for us I think it’s more of a concentration thing than anything, not one actual aspect of the game. We have to do a better job of defending and concentrating. I thought we rebounded the ball better today. But we don’t force any turnovers in the first half. We just kind of showed we weren’t very active. But no, not one thing.
We’ve got to play together. We’ve got to be unselfish and move the basketball. And like we said earlier we’ve got to do a better job moving the ball.
Q. What makes John Beilein so successful in the coach in a tournament setting in your mind?
COACH PAINTER: I just think that a lot of what they run, I would guess that he would go back to running more of his stuff against unfamiliar people.
They run so many different things and have so many different calls within his system that it’s a tough prep, especially after they win the first game.
So when they get into that second game — you always learn something when you play him. I always say that about when Bill Carmody was at Northwestern, when Dana Altman at Creighton. Kind of those systems where they have a lot of quick hitters and a lot of different things you can go to. You always learn something when you play them, and you fix something. As a coach you think you’ve got them figured out, you don’t have them figured out.
He’s just very unique in that. You can’t allow them to do what they want to do. And if you do, now it’s just hitting or missing, especially when they put skill. His ideal thing is having a 5 that can shoot. That’s why Teske’s picking pops, him going into the short roll into elbow, Wagner being able to make the 3s and drive the ball. He makes them special.
Those guards are good but not everybody has a guy like Wagner that can stick 3s, drive the ball and play with passion.
Q. It’s a week away from Selection Sunday. How concerned are you that you can still (indiscernible) get, play hard and effort out of these guys?
COACH PAINTER: I don’t think it’s as much as playing hard. I thought we did a good job rebounding the ball. I thought it was more concentration. We have to do a better job on the basketball. We’ve got to do a better job in ball-screen defense.
But good teams will expose you. That’s what you’re going to face. You’ll face good teams but there’s only one team leaving this weekend as a winner. So you’ve got other teams, obviously some teams are finished. But there’s always opportunities to improve. There’s always a silver lining.
So hopefully this can help us concentrate better and play better on the defensive end and just play — we’ve done a good job of playing together as a group. But sometimes that, when you deal with a lot of people that are skilled, you deal with a lot of people that are confident, and sometimes they want it a little bit too much. And we just gotta probe the defense a little more and be a little more patient.
Q. What do you tell your guys to regroup, put this in the rearview mirror and really refocus on the next challenge ahead the NCAA Tournament coming up?
COACH PAINTER: I’m not a guy that throws the tape away. I’m a guy that when you have struggles, look in the mirror, face, take those struggles so they don’t happen again.
So we’ll talk about it. We’ll watch this tape. We’ll watch all three of them. And we’ll try to learn from some of our successes and learn from some of our failures and just kind of stick with it. You’ve got to know who you are. You’ve got to know who you are and you’ve just got to go back to the drawing board.
We have enough successes together to be able to reflect on those also. I think it’s kind of a two-way street sometimes when you lose.
Q. You had three or four games in 12-day stretches this year. Now you’re going to go 12 days without a game. What’s your plan for that 12 days?
COACH PAINTER: We’ll take a couple of days off. We’ll practice for a couple of days and take a day off. Practice for a couple of days, take a day off. It’s not something where we need to practice every single day but we don’t need to go four days off in a row. I think that’s obviously too much. But we’ll definitely take off Monday and Tuesday and get back after it on Wednesday.
But we’re also going to be smart. I think it’s more at this point in the year more mental training and guys gotta be able to understand and learn from some of those mistakes that we made today and be better because of it.
You go full bore and you get physical and you practice two hours a day while you’re done and one of your better players gets hurt. That doesn’t make a whole lot of sense to me.
Q. Is this the best defensive team that Michigan has had since John Beilein got there? Having watched them on film and faced them today, what in your eyes has made them so successful on that end in this season?
COACH PAINTER: I just think it’s attention to detail. I think Matthews, Simpson, Abdur-Rahkman are all three good defensive players. Duncan Robinson has a lot of experience. Duncan Robinson was a poor defensive player when he got there, but he’s really, really worked hard and he’s a much better defender out there.
He used to be out there and be a liability but now he’s not. That’s being a well-rounded player, because he can shoot the basketball, he’s a good offensive player and now he’s a good defensive player. And you’ve got to give somebody like that credit to them.
So I think it’s their personnel. Jordan Poole gives them length and some athleticism when he comes in there. Livers, who got hurt tonight, has done a good job as a young guy guarding.
I think it’s personnel and attention to detail. Anytime you put talent on the court and you give it time and you work on something, whether it’s offense or defense, and those guys stick together, you’re going to make some improvements.
Q. Vince had an extended spell there on the bench toward the end. Did he tweak the injury or was it a matchup thing?
COACH PAINTER: No it wasn’t matchup. We wanted guys to go out there and have energy. I thought Nojel Eastern, I looked at how he played and I thought he brought us energy. And I thought Eifert could bring us some energy, and I had to keep enough scorers out there. I wanted Isaac on the court.
At that point in the game, when you get down like that you’re searching as a coach, you want guys to be able to bring energy, and I was just trying to get Nojel and Grady out there.