After one other embarrassing ouster, is Purdue overdue for a philosophical shift?

COLUMBUS, Ohio — On the eve of what turned the worst night time of Matt Painter’s profession, the Purdue head coach met with the media for a pregame information convention on Thursday afternoon. The opening query got here from a reporter who primarily covers Ohio State, and he requested Painter about navigating the ups and downs, about how troublesome it’s to stay steadfast with core beliefs when a season — or seasons — start to spiral. It felt like the author wished some perspective with which to border Chris Holtmann’s disappointing 12 months with the Buckeyes.

The ever-gracious Painter, who endured back-to-back dropping seasons in 2012-13 and 2013-14, launched right into a soliloquy concerning the significance of figuring out “winning ways” when establishing a roster. A group can by no means have sufficient gamers or coaches who care about successful, Painter stated, and that is why the Boilermakers have chased productiveness over expertise on the recruiting path. He usually favors the prospects who look like they will mix with Purdue’s tradition.

“Your own personal convictions about how a game should be played or how a program should be run has nothing to do with an opponent,” Painter stated that day, “has nothing to do with style or anything of that nature.”

Though he did not comprehend it on the time, Painter would return to the dais the next night mired in precisely the philosophical quandary he’d been requested to explain. His Boilermakers, seeded No. 1 within the South Region, turned simply the second group within the historical past of the NCAA Tournament to lose to a 16-seed within the opening spherical. A 63-58 defeat to Fairleigh Dickinson — the nontraditional, non-champions of the Northeast Conference — slapped Painter with a 3rd consecutive loss to a double-digit seed that opened his program to seething criticism of its repeated failures in opposition to lower-level opposition.

Friday’s stumble in opposition to Fairleigh Dickinson was preceded by an embarrassing slipup to Fifteenth-seeded Saint Peter’s in 2022, which was preempted by a stunning time beyond regulation collapse in opposition to Thirteenth-seeded North Texas in 2021. Five of Purdue’s final 10 NCAA Tournament appearances have been lower brief by groups seeded eleventh or larger. An 11-seed, 12-seed, 13-seed, 15-seed and 16-seed all bested the Boilermakers since 2011.

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“It’s hard,” Painter stated after dropping to FDU. “It’s a really hard thing. We worked very hard and have done things the right way in our program. And I think six straight years we’ve been a top-five seed. And that’s all you try to do. You just try to fight to get in the best position possible. And now we get in the best position possible and this happens. And obviously it hurts. It hurts bad.”

[How Fairleigh Dickinson toppled Purdue with a perfect game plan and ‘a chip on our shoulder’]

Few coaches throughout the nation, if any, are extra extensively revered and extra universally preferred than Painter, who has received 68% of his video games since taking up for the legendary Gene Keady in 2005. Painter’s colleague at Michigan State, Tom Izzo, described him because the “new breed” in faculty basketball throughout a information convention on Saturday, the day after Purdue was felled by Fairleigh Dickinson, and stated the 52-year-old has completed “an incredible job” by successful 4 Big Ten regular-season titles, two Big Ten Tournament titles and receiving the league’s Coach of the Year award 4 instances within the span of 15 years. The 2022-23 marketing campaign marked the primary time Painter captured each the regular-season and match title in the identical season.

But Painter’s extended infatuation with constructing his groups round low-post scorers calls into query whether or not he is actually placing Purdue within the “best position possible” throughout an period of school basketball when high-level guard play is definitely extra invaluable — particularly within the postseason.

On a macro degree, the Big Ten’s obsession with deploying conventional facilities is among the many causes the convention has did not win a nationwide title since Michigan State lower down the nets in 2000, and it is price noting the 6-foot-7 small ahead Morris Peterson (16.8 factors per recreation) led Izzo’s group in scoring. Counting that assortment of Spartans, there have been 16 Big Ten groups to succeed in the Final Four during the last 23 years. The solely ones anchored by facilities had been Indiana with Jared Jeffries in 2002 (6-feet-11; 15 level per recreation), Ohio State with Greg Oden in 2007 (7-feet; 15.7 factors per recreation), Ohio State with Jared Sullinger in 2012 (6-feet-9; 17.5 factors per recreation), and back-to-back Wisconsin squads that includes Frank Kaminsky in 2014-15 (7-feet; 18.8 factors per recreation). The common peak for each main scorer who guided a Big Ten college to the Final Four was 6-feet-6 throughout that span.

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And on a broader scale, simply two of the final 13 nationwide champions have leaned on a middle as their main scorer:

— The first was a 2011-12 Kentucky squad that surrounded freshman Anthony Davis (14.2 factors, 10.4 rebounds per recreation) with six extra gamers who went on to spend time within the NBA: Doron Lamb (13.7 factors), Terrence Jones (12.3 factors), Michael Kidd-Gilchrist (11.9 factors), Marquis Teague (10 factors), Darius Miller (9.9 factors) and Kyle Wiltjer (5 factors).

— The second was a 2014-15 Duke group that flanked freshman Jahlil Okafor (17.3 factors, 8.5 rebounds per recreation) with a supporting solid that contained seven future NBA gamers: Quinn Cook (15.3 factors), Justise Winslow (12.6 factors), Tyus Jones (11.8 factors), Amile Jefferson (6.1 factors), Grayson Allen (4.4 factors), Semi Ojeleye (3 factors) and Marshall Plumlee (2.2 factors).

On a micro degree, Purdue’s manufacturing line of high-level facilities beneath Painter coincides with this system’s crippling run of upset losses. Four of Painter’s 5 defeats in opposition to double-digit seeds had been suffered by rosters whose major scorers had been old-school huge males:

— His 2011 group that misplaced to No. 11 VCU was led by the 6-foot-10 JaJuan Johnson with 20.5 factors and eight.6 rebounds per recreation.

— His 2016 group that misplaced to No. 12 Little Rock was led by the 7-foot A.J. Hammons with 15 factors and eight.2 rebounds per recreation.

— His 2021 group that misplaced to No. 13 North Texas was led by the 6-foot-10 Trevion Williams with 15.5 factors and 9.1 rebounds per recreation.

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— His 2022 group that misplaced to No. 15 Saint Peter’s was led by the 6-foot-4 level guard Jaden Ivey with 17.3 factors and 4.9 rebounds per recreation. Zach Edey was second in scoring at 14.4 factors per recreation.

— His 2023 group that misplaced to No. 16 Fairleigh Dickinson was led by the 7-foot-4 Edey with 22.3 factors and 12.9 rebounds per recreation.

[Purdue’s locker room whiteboard takes punishment after loss to Fairleigh Dickinson]

The most up-to-date stunner in opposition to FDU was by far probably the most puzzling, probably the most weird, probably the most inexplicable for a group that received 29 video games and was the category of a league that obtained eight NCAA Tournament bids. Edey had scored 21 factors and grabbed 15 rebounds in opposition to an undersized opponent whose beginning middle — if Ansley Almonor may be referred to as that — was a mere 6-feet-6. And with the sport teetering within the waning moments, swarms of Fairleigh Dickinson defenders collapsed towards the purpose to disrupt or deflect almost each entry go the Boilermakers lobbed in Edey’s course.

Falling to a 16-seed supplied the harshest reminder that common season wins do not equate to postseason outcomes. Landing on the incorrect aspect of historical past could possibly be impetus sufficient for Painter to reassess.

“We haven’t been in this position as a 1-seed in a long time,” Painter stated, “and we get here and we don’t take advantage of that opportunity. But they’re good guys. They work hard. It stings. You can get a lot of different people looking at it a lot of different ways, but when you’re the one playing and coaching and you invested the time, it’s really hard to take.

“But like I stated, we are the ones which have to take a seat in it. We’re those that hopefully need to be higher due to it.”

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