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Painter wants to 'see some guys fight'

As Purdue's bench gets deeper with the return of Lewis Jackson from injury and John Hart's sudden emergence, coach Matt Painter is eager to see how his other players react.

Painter didn't specifically name any players during his teleconference with media Monday, but he seemed to be speaking about sophomore Ryne Smith and freshman D.J. Byrd.

Smith and Byrd only entered the game in the final minute against Penn State on Sunday and played only a handful of minutes (Smith 4, Byrd 2) against Wisconsin earlier in the week.

Both have been struggling shooting the ball, and though Smith has made strides defensively and has been smart on offense, he's not as athletic as either Hart or Jackson. Hart also has made more shots, and Jackson is the quickest player on the team. Byrd hasn't shown any one area he's solid in, which largely could be because he's playing out of position at power forward instead of guard.

But Painter said after the Penn State game that both players had a good attitude. Not that they'd necessarily come to him if they weren't happy.

"They're not going to complain to me because I'll tell them and I do tell them," Painter said. "I didn't like it when I played the game of basketball no matter what level when people told me I was all right and I was playing five minutes a game. If I was all right, why was I playing five minutes a game?

"They have to be productive. They have to play. This isn't fifth grade basketball where everybody gets the same amount of minutes. Those guys (who are getting fewer minutes) have to understand you have to be productive, but you have to lay it on the line."

Painter said he was excited to watch practice today, the team's first after having Monday off, to see how players respond.

"It's kind of ruffling some feathers with some other guys," Painter said of the new rotation. "I want to see some guys fight. That competitive spirit can really help us here in these last two months of the season."

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