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The Journal Gazette

Monday, February 26, 2018 8:20 pm

Matt Painter Radio: On the Big Ten Tournament, Carsen Edwards and Nebraska's chances of making the NCAA Tournament

DYLAN SINN | The Journal Gazette

Purdue coach Matt Painter joined host Larry Clisby for their weekly show Monday night. Here are some of the highlights from the discussion.

Painter on...

The Big Ten Tournament: "You want to be able to play well at the end. A lot of people always talk about that, but also things can twist, too, so you see a long streak, that we had this year, winning 19 games, then losing three straight, so it's good to get back where we won a couple of games, won three in a row now. Also being able to win without Vince Edwards, I think that showed a lot of character on our team, it just showed the value of our team. When one guy who's a key player for us goes down, we're able to play other people, play more people in some different spots and be able to get on a little bit of a run here. Hopefully that can help us in the long run because you're going to have to play three games (in the conference tournament), obviously you can't look past your first game because we know that's going to be tough. We were the No. 1 seed last year and we got knocked off and the longer that you're in this and you've had different seeds and different opponents in different years and things like that, anything can happen. So you gotta get your team prepared and get focused on that first team. The thing with us is, we don't know who that opponent's gonna be until midnight Thursday. So your prep this week, you know how many times we've had a double bye or been in this position and you prepare for one opponent or you think you're preparing for one opponent and you play the other, and that happens. It probably happens 50-50 to be frank with you. It's one of those things where, yeah Indiana's the higher seed, but they're gonna play Minnesota or Rutgers and it's gonna be on a neutral court and we all know how difficult that can be. (We're) just looking forward to the Big Ten Tournament."

One-and-done tournament play: "People don't realize, fans and people that follow you get upset (after a loss in tournament play), but they have no idea the preparation that you put into it and how upset you are. But (losing early) happens to everybody outside of the two teams that play in the final and obviously the team that (loses) in the final is going to feel that way too. But when you go and play one game, you'd be surprised, you've gotta be able to digest a lot of things at the end of the year, but also keep things in perspective. You gotta go out there and compete and the thing that is up there for a lot of people, like for us we want to win the Big Ten Tournament, we want to improve our seed in the NCAA Tournament, but some people if they're going home, some people if they don't win they're going to the NIT, so it's a do-or-die thing and people are playing for keeps. You gotta play well, you gotta be competitive, but you gotta have a real fight to you."

Carsen Edwards: "The timing of his 40-point game (against Illinois) for us with Vince being out, you always talk about that, when someone's out, you gotta step up and pick up the slack and I think a lot of people did that from a scoring standpoint. It kind of goes on top of the flow of that game because we were struggling, I thought Illinois really played well. I thought Trent Frazier made some huge plays, I thought Leron Black made some huge plays, but (Illinois) had two guys, one guy 2 for 14 overall from 3 and (one guy) 1 for 15 in the league from 3 and they go 5 for 5. So that was their night, they had some guys making shots that don't normally make shots, they had a couple other guys, Frazier and Black, who are very talented players, make plays, which they usually do, so we needed all those 40 points and so for (Edwards) to have this kind of week was key for us and I'm just happy for him, for him to get the recognition (national and conference Player of the Week) that he deserves."

Nebraska's NCAA Tournament potential: "I'm just going off of what I read myself. It's not like I've been able to figure out, obviously they've given us some parameters this year that allows us to understand in layman's terms some things in terms of the quadrants of the wins and what teams have been able to do and not do, not just looking at how many total wins you have and things of that nature. The thing I would say about this for our league, I would be hard-pressed to say Nebraska shouldn't be in the NCAA Tournament. I understand what (the experts) are saying about the wins and the quality of wins (Nebraska doesn't have enough good wins) and I get that piece, but there has to be something in terms of just overall consistency and success. They've played quality teams, you say they haven't played NCAA Tournament teams, but over a long haul when you're as consistent as they've been, that has to be taken into consideration. But they also, this is what's great about it, this is why having the (Big Ten) tournament is good for a team like (Nebraska), the chips fall where they should, they should play an NCAA Tournament team (Michigan) right away. The opportunity to get beat, which is kind of reverse thinking, by someone who's not going to be in the NCAA Tournament (is not there). They're probably only going to play, Michigan, Michigan State, if it goes (chalk), we all know it doesn't ever go that way, but that's what they need at this time. They do not need a loss by someone who's not going. Michigan's going, Michigan State obviously is going to be a one seed or a two seed in my opinion, so that's great for them because that's what they're looking for."

Matt Haarms: "I think the number one thing for him is to get lower-body strength. He's got to rebound the ball better than he has. He has great energy, he can really move out on the court, cerebral, knows what's going on, he's gotta rebound more for us. When you're a shot-blocker, you gotta be a shot-blocker and a rebounder. In terms of how he plays, he's a guy I really feel will end up shooting 3s for us. He can stretch the court, he can shoot the basketball, he's good at diving and making plays and I think that's where we will keep him, diving, making plays. But we're still going to post him up at times. But I think his game will be more along the lines of JaJuan Johnson, a guy who's gonna knock down perimeter jump shots, but he's not gonna be like an anchor, a guy who posts and stays posted. He's gonna move around, but you don't wanna neglect (posting) when you're 7-3 and you can get the ball high on your release point."

dsinn@jg.net