The atmosphere in the room wasn’t great. You could tell everyone was disappointed in the loss but strangely enough there was a bit of optimism from Carsen Edwards and Haas as well. It’s always a bit hard to get a read on Painter in my opinion since he’s generally so even keeled. I had to chuckle at Hass’s bluntness when asked about struggling against Michigan. When asked why the team struggled he said, “We weren’t getting shots. They were getting open ones. They made them. That’s what won them the game.” You can’t really be more clear than that. I’m sure there’s a bit of frustration for the players as they are plucked straight from a gut wrenching loss to speak to the press. I respect the way they handle themselves in such a rough situation. Another bit of bluntness came from Carsen Edwards when asked about his confidence level up two with PJ headed to the line for the 1-1 near the end of regulation, “I thought he was going to make the free throw. It didn’t fall. That’s it.” Again, hard to argue.
This Purdue team is talented and skilled and has a lot of potential but this season they’ve struggled to put it all together consistently. When the team is firing on all cylinders they can do great things but that wasn’t it today. Case in point was the free throw shooting. “It was just one of those things. We shot 82% in league play this year. It was pretty good. So to go 6-13, it kind of shocks you,” said the Purdue coach. Not only was it shocking but it probably cost Purdue the game. Had PJ hit the front end of that 1-1 Purdue goes up by three with the chance to go up four with under a minute to play. That’s your ballgame right there.
I know everyone wants to be freaking out right now and thinking that the season is over and this team is terrible and Painter is terrible but that simply isn’t true. Haas touched on the fact that you always want to be playing your best basketball in March and Painter followed up on this. “Well I think today we didn’t convert. Sometimes it’s hard to say you’re playing well when you didn’t shoot the ball well. A lot of times people equate that, a lot of fans equate those two together. You’re making a bunch of shots. You guys are playing well. In reality, we turned the ball over too much today. You can’t have that many turnovers, get out-rebounded, lose the possession game, think you’re playing well. I think Michigan had a lot to do with that.” Whether you like or dislike Painter you gotta admit the guy gives thoughtful answers. He could’ve easily brushed off the question and said no the team isn’t playing their best but things change. Instead he pulled out the classic Painterism by basically saying you’re not as good as people often say you are just because you’re hitting shots. It truly is classic Painter.
I want to leave this one on a bit of a positive note. As Painter looked toward the NCAA tournament he said, “Hopefully, we can get some time in the gym, practice, figure out who we play on Sunday, and then play better Thursday and Friday.” And that’s really what it’s all about isn’t it? What happens next week and beyond is what people will remember. Do you look back on last season fondly just because Purdue got to the Big Ten Tournament finals? I didn’t think so. You remember last season for the Little Rock loss. So it will be this year depending on what happens next week. Let’s just remember that now Purdue gets time to rest, practice, and fix the issues. It’s up to Painter to take advantage of these unexpected extra days.