Purdue-Washington Quotes, March 20
March 20, 2009
Q. Robbie, out here a PAC 10 team, Washington, maybe you don't know much about this, obviously a 4 seed, deserving of that, they won a game. It will be a tough match up for you guys.
ROBBIE HUMMEL: Yeah, they're a great team. We got to watch film on them this morning. They're a big, physical team and they have some good players, so it will be a tough match up for us.
Q. E'Twaun, would you just talk a little bit about how Lewis has fit into the picture this year? Sometimes it's difficult, as you guys all know last year to come in as freshmen and establish yourselves. But he seemed like he eased into it pretty easily, and he said you made him feel very comfortable in the recruiting process, got to be pretty good friends. Talk about how he's fit in.
E'TWAUN MOORE: Yes, Lewis definitely has been doing a great job for us this year. He came in as a freshman and tried to be a leader. That's something you rarely find, especially in young guards coming in now. He just took the point guard role and did a really good job with it. He come and gets us in our sets, and he know where we're at in the offense, know where we put everyone at, but he's been a great on ball defender, and he just did a great job.
Q. Can you guys just kind of talk about the match up with Jon Brockman and the sort of match up issues he might creat and how playing a Big Ten schedule and seeing Blake Griffin and Kyle Singler helped prepare you for that?
JAJUAN JOHNSON: He's going to be a tough match up for us, with the size. He's the guy that plays hard, so if you're not physical back with him he's going to make you pay for it. We're going to box him out every time and limit his catches if we want to be successful guarding him.
ROBBIE HUMMEL: Yeah, I agree, and like he said I think it helps us that we have played Blake Griffin and Kyle Singler because they're very physical and very good rebounders. I think it's going to be a tough match up for us, because he's so active on the glass, but hopefully we can do a good job on him and if we can it will help us win the game.
Q. Robbie, how much has Matt played up the whole "we're going into their home court, they're going to have all their fans here," all that kind of thing?
ROBBIE HUMMEL: Not really. It's one of those things where I think we're all aware of it. We know this is pretty close to Washington, so they're going to have a pretty good contingent of fans. It will be like a road game for us. I think our team thrives on that environment, and it's almost like us against the world, so we're looking forward to that.
Q. I don't know how much tape you guys got to see of Washington overnight, but can you talk about their back court and how different they might be from what you normally see, particularly the way they defend?
E'TWAUN MOORE: Their back court is extremely quick and fast. They've got small guards, but they really get after you, especially on the defensive end. Our guards have to be strong with the ball. If not, they'll come and try to take it from you. Guarding them will be a challenge because they play at a high tempo and they're fast with the ball, so it should be a great match up for us.
Q. Does the height difference, do you think that's an advantage or makes no difference, what do you think about that? You guys are going to be a little bit taller than them. Obviously Lewis isn't, but everyone else will be?
E'TWAUN MOORE: We're taller than them. But they're physical and a bigger and stronger team. Their inside presence makes up for the outside presence, because they definitely have big horses down low. But I guess it will even up, but we'll see how it plays tomorrow.
Q. They were able to get Mississippi State's big guy in foul trouble in the first half, and some of their big guys were able to go off and put that game out of reach. When you go into a game like this realizing the team needs you on the court, can you let the foul situation get in your head or do you go out and play?
JAJUAN JOHNSON: You definitely have to go out and play your game. You can't worry about getting into foul trouble. I think you're going to have to move your feet, if you want to be successful in guarding these people. If you don't let them catch the ball they can't call fouls on you. That's what I'm going to try to do tomorrow.
Q. Robbie, does anyone call you "6 shot Rob" anymore? Has that gone away?
ROBBIE HUMMEL: I really haven't been called that I don't know if I've ever been called that by anybody (laughter.) Definitely not. I think maybe did Coach Painter reference that last year? Yeah, he hasn't called me that this year. It's kind of gone away.
Q. Is your back fully do you have any pain like sitting still? Is it still bothering you or is that all in the past?
ROBBIE HUMMEL: My back feels as good as it has in a long time. I'm really not having any pain. I can go out there and run and jump and really be pain free?
Q. I guess for Robbie, but any of you could answer it, maybe, my understanding is you guys kind of all came there together. Was it kind of not necessarily a package deal, but did you all know each other was coming and you wanted to build something at Purdue and that sort of thing?
ROBBIE HUMMEL: That was one of those things where we had all played together. E'Twaun and I played on the same AAU team and we played against each other since middle school. And JaJuan we played with him in the junior All Stars. And with the Indiana All Stars our senior year in high school. We were definitely aware of JaJuan coming in, even though at least for me I didn't know him that well when he admitted. We kind of texted a little bit. E'Twaun and I discussed coming here together.
Q. Following up on that for all three of you, if you will, just briefly, how important is that you guys were coming in together to establish yourselves to take that next step, win this game and get to the Sweet 16?
JAJUAN JOHNSON: I think it's real important, because we had I would say we had pretty high expectations, from just other people outside of us. I think it's a big thing, we're helping each other get better. We've been in this together since day one. I think that's a big part of our success and I know we all want to win championships and that's always a good thing.
ROBBIE HUMMEL: Yeah, like JaJuan said, I think each one of us helped each other grow as basketball players. I'm very grateful that I decided to come to Purdue with these guys. It's just a lot easier for us to go about every day because we know that we can lean on each other and have one another to depend on.
E'TWAUN MOORE: I guess I agree with them guys. It's great that we all came in together. You said something about the hype earlier. That's something we tried not to feed into, the hype. We try to go out and play as hard as we can, and whatever comes with it comes with it. But we definitely want to advance to the Sweet 16, that definitely would be great for our school history.
Q. Robbie, it looks like this is a clash of styles, a team that wants to run and gun and you want to grind it out and play tough D. How do you see it playing out when you have two teams with cross purposes, different styles of playing basketball?
ROBBIE HUMMEL: I think it's going to be one of those games where like you said it's going to be two clashing styles. But I think our team has really shown that we can play numerous styles. I think that we show that in the Big Ten tournament where we ran up and down with Penn State and Illinois, and against Ohio State we got in one of the those grinds. We didn't shoot the ball as well, we had to grind it out.
I think we can adapt, but I think definitely our style of play is probably a little slower than Washington, especially since they're in the PAC 10 and that's more of a running league. We'll try to impose our will and try to control the tempo.
Q. How many texts and e mails and letters have you gotten from people in central Indiana that feel like they have this really great back, that you can take a pill, whatever it might be?
ROBBIE HUMMEL: I can't even count e mails, text messages, voicemails, letters, and even packages of things that will help my back. So it's just been one of those things where I tried to not really respond to any of them. I felt like if I responded to one I'd have to respond to them all. So there's a bunch of stuff, though.
Q. What was the craziest thing you got?
ROBBIE HUMMEL: This one guy got my phone number, called me, I don't know how he did, and left me a voicemail about some Eucalyptus oil that would magically cure my back.
Q. Did you try it?
ROBBIE HUMMEL: No, I didn't.
Q. Did you get a package?
ROBBIE HUMMEL: He never sent it, he just left me a voicemail about how it would help me.
Q. For any of you guys, I know you've seen limited film on Washington, what you saw yesterday. Do they remind you of any team that you played in the Big Ten?
JAJUAN JOHNSON: I would say the closest team would maybe be Michigan State, just because they have those big guys down low. They're real physical. And they have big guards that are able to just run in transition and just make plays for their team.
Q. E'Twaun, for basketball fans of my age, you can't hear Purdue without thinking of Rick Mount. I'm wondering if that name is still relevant on campus and particularly for a guard wearing the Purdue uniform?
E'TWAUN MOORE: I definitely heard stories and things of Rick Mount, but I really don't we really don't hear his name too much around now. I guess there was some in the past. We really haven't heard a lot about him.
Q. Have you guys crossed paths with anybody on the Washington team? Have you played against any of those guys or just basically what you've seen on film?
ROBBIE HUMMEL: Isaiah Thomas we played when we played Friends of the Hoop, E'Twaun and I did, other than that, I don't think so.
Q. How did you do?
ROBBIE HUMMEL: I think we won.
E'TWAUN MOORE: I think we won.
ROBBIE HUMMEL: I don't remember.
Q. In practice with Lewis, what is it like defending him and what's it like just to play him when you're just doing the intersquad stuff?
E'TWAUN MOORE: I guess I probably guard him the most out of these guys. Man, he's a tough competitor. Every drill and every game we play he always going to play as hard he definitely going to make you work, even if you're guarding him and going a hundred miles an hour you have to chase him. If he's guarding you, he gets up in you. He's a good one to have.
Q. For all three of you guys, you've won four in a row now, do you guys get superstitious, do you do things like wear the same clothes or something, is there any type of superstition you use or is it all irrelevant?
JAJUAN JOHNSON: Me, personally, I don't really have any superstitions, but if something is working I kind of just try to stick with it any way, just because, why not? Just keep going with it. But I don't really have too much superstitions.
ROBBIE HUMMEL: Yeah, I agree with JaJuan. I kind of do the same thing before every game. I'll listen to music but I don't do anything like not shave for our winning streaks or anything like that.
E'TWAUN MOORE: Me? No, I'll say I have one. I always wear black shoes. If I have a bad game then I'll switch. But that's one thing I always do. But besides that, that's it.
Q. Do you start out with black shoes?
E'TWAUN MOORE: Yes.
Q. And switch it?
E'TWAUN MOORE: And then I'll go back.
Q. Coach, I know you were there for that Washington, Mississippi State game, it didn't seem like much of a neutral court game. There should be more Husky fans on a weekend game.
COACH PAINTER: They've earned that. When you're the PAC 10 champs and you put yourself in the the position they were in this year, you earn that home court advantage, if you have a site relatively close to you when it comes time to Selection Sunday.
Washington has a very good game. When you're the PAC 10 champs, you're deserving of that. And they've put themselves in a very good position.
Q. I don't know how much you've seen of them overnight on tape or just watching otherwise, but can you talk about their back court, particularly Overton and just these little guys who kind of make a lot happen?
COACH PAINTER: Those little guys are good players. And Isaiah Thomas is very shifty, very good with the basketball. Gets to the rim. Just simply makes plays, and probably one thing that stands out with Isaiah is the fact that he draws a lot of fouls and gets to the free throw line.
When you're having a point guard that's causing havoc offensively, and you have the athleticism and the physical play that Washington has on the interior, it makes for a good combination. Justin Dentmon is a very good combo guard, he can play either slot. He's more of a lead guard, more of a scorer. I've known him since the 6th grade, being from Carbondale. He loves to play basketball. And he's a tough match up, because he can play that point and forces a two a lot of times to guard him. But just a good, overall basketball player, and he's made huge strides under Coach Romar.
And Overton is the best on ball guy we've seen all year. His defense really gets them going when he subs in, and charges them up. And you've got to be careful when he's around because he'll take the ball from you, and plays with a lot of energy. He's the type of guy that we really value at Purdue.
I think Overton is a great player. He doesn't score a lot of points, even though he's capable of scoring, but he affects the game without scoring at times, which I think is a great compliment.
Q. Is there a Big Ten team that they most closely approximate, for those of us who have seen them play all of one time?
COACH PAINTER: I would say Michigan State. With Kalin Lucas' ability to push the ball and use his quickness in transition, to go along with Walton who's a great defender, you throw in Durrell Summers, you throw in a guy like Raymar Morgan, who is like Pondexter, he can play inside and out, and causes you that three four match up problem that's just a nightmare.
And they're third in the nation rebounding, and Michigan is second in the nation for rebounding. Sometimes with both of those teams, their best offense is a missed shot as they cave you in on the weak side. You can't do it against Michigan State or Washington. If they're stealing points in transition and they're stealing points on the glass they're going to win the game.
Q. Can you talk a little bit about the maturation of Lewis Jackson's game throughout the season and comment on how he matches up with Thomas tomorrow night?
COACH PAINTER: I think Lewis Jackson has done a great job. He made a great decision coming to Purdue, because we needed him. We have great combo guards in our back court, but we didn't have the guy to put pressure. He gives us that quickness and hopefully he can do a good job on Thomas. It's a tall order, but you have to do your best to keep Thomas in front of you. And turn it around a little bit and put pressure on him.
But the one thing that Washington is able to do, they have a lot of ball handlers, so it's not like if Thomas doesn't handle the ball, they don't have anybody to break you down. They still have Overton and Dentmon, and still have very, very good lead guards that can hurt you. So it's not just Isaiah Thomas we're worried about. We're worried about all their guards.
Q. You talk about Overton as a player that you value. For us that are trying to learn more about your ball club, can you talk about a player that might cause the same type of issues for Washington?
COACH PAINTER: You know, hopefully we have more than one. You talk about Overton. Overton is a good offensive player, but how he affects the game lies in his enthusiasm and toughness and ability to guard the ball. I think we have a guy like Lewis Jackson that can put pressure on the basketball, get into the basketball.
Chris Kramer has been on the All Defensive team in our league. He does a very good job of disrupting other teams and their leading scorer. The problem we have with Washington is we don't know who their leading scorer is. They have great balance. They have three guys at 15 points, and then you throw Pondexter into that mix, and the way he played yesterday, it makes for a very difficult match up for us. But I think that Kramer is a guy that can disrupt things.
I think Jackson is a guy that can do that. Hummel is a very good, intelligent basketball player, understands what's going on on defense. And Grant and Moore give us two long defenders, who I think are playing very good defense at this point, not to mention Johnson is who on the All Defensive team who led our team in blocked shots. Our staple is defense, and after watching Washington I would say the same thing. I would say their staple is on the defensive end and getting into people and trying to cause havoc.
Q. Did you guys recruit Justin Dentmon very much?
A. We recruited him at Southern Illinois. When we missed on him, we actually signed him at Illinois State then he went to prep school and then he opened his recruitment back up, and that's when he signed with Washington, so it's six years removed.
Q. Of course you like your point guard, you recruited him. But can you talk about the faith it takes to throw your team under the direction of a freshman, under 5'10" point guard throughout the season?
COACH PAINTER: Well, I think there's a lot of pieces that Washington had last year that they have right now that they're playing well. And obviously they've had a lot better year this year, and sometimes you just need one more piece. And even though Dentmon and Overton can play that position, now it allows those guys to match up and Lorenzo to be able to go small and put a team in a bind, but also go big and put people in the bind, and that is the final piece.
Isaiah Thomas was their piece to help them win the Pac 10 championship. Coach Romar was a guard and he understands how valuable that one more piece can be for your chemistry. And they've been able to do that with Isaiah Thomas. They've been able to give him the ball and have confidence. With that you're going to have growing points. Anytime you have a freshman point guard you're going to have growing pains. Now they have a good product and they can beat anybody in the country. Is that what you're asking me? Okay.
Well, I think for us it's by committee. Grant has the ball in his hands, but we put the ball in Moore's hands a lot. It's difficult when you face different teams how they press, how they zone, 1 3 1. We've got a couple of teams in our league that plays multiple defenses and they're always changing. I think Lewis has done a good job of adjusting to that throughout the year.
Q. Do you have any hesitation at all in throwing Lewis right in like that?
COACH PAINTER: No, I think he's earned that. It's something through practice that you see through leadership skills. Their physical attributes. He gives us something we needed this year, which was the quickness, and to put pressure on the basketball, but also break people down off the bounce.
Q. How hard will you sell your guys on the idea that this is a road game that really nobody is interested in seeing them win, here? Washington's playing essentially a home game. Secondly, would it be safe to assume you've got Hummel on Brockman, is that the match up?
COACH PAINTER: Well, I don't have to sell them about this being a road game. This is a road game. It's that simple. When you walk out there and you have a sea of purple, it is going to be a road game. But like I said, Washington has earned that. They're the Pac 10 champs, they put themselves in that position. They deserve to be here. They deserve to be in this position.
We beat some good teams on the road. We've been competitive at times. We played Michigan State at the end of the year, and couldn't make a shot. We won at Wisconsin and Minnesota. We won at some tough venues.
Hummel will guard Brockman at times, I don't know if he'll start on Brockman. They tilt their line ups at times. They go big and sometimes they go small. So it depends on their line ups and how we handle that. But Hummel will guard him at times. JaJuan will guard him too. I think Brockman is someone you have to throw a lot of people at, because he requires that kind of attention. He's one of the best players in the country.
Q. You guys have the reputation of being a team that likes to grind things out. Huskies like to run. Do you feel like if it turns into that you guys can run a little bit and can win a high scoring game?
COACH PAINTER: I felt in the Big Ten tournament we did a good job of pushing the basketball and getting points in transition. We have to have a balance of scoring the ball in transition, and also scoring the ball in the half court. I don't feel we can run every single possession. I think it's important for us just to take what the defense gives us. If it's going to be stingy, defense, and they're going to be set all the time we have to put them on defense. If you're going to have opportunities and have numbers and angles I think we have to push the basketball and look for that first good shot.
Q. Coach, what are the one or two points of emphasis tomorrow that you absolutely have to do in order to win?
COACH PAINTER: To be able to beat Washington, like I said, it's very similar to Michigan State. You have to be able to rebound the basketball and you have to keep them out of transition. It's not to say they're not good in the half court, because they are. They have a lot of weapons. But for starters those are the two most important things, rebound the basketball, and get them stopped. When Thomas and Dentmon and Overton are pushing it and getting opportunities for themselves and their teammates they are very, very dangerous.
Q. We've seen all the building blocks. You took the job as the assistant for the year and the great recruiting class, back to the Big Dance, Big Ten championship in this tournament. Is this the logical step you want to do is win this next game and get to the Sweet 16?
You obviously want to make steps in your program and sometimes they're baby steps, sometimes they're huge steps. Our guys have done a good job of working hard through injuries. Our guys stayed positive and continued to work and that was a great sign. We've been in this position three years in a row now after a first round win and hopefully we can make that next step. But we've got a tall order in front of us. Washington is a very good team and it's going to create a big time challenge for us.
Q. A little bit off topic, you guys are one of 26 schools that have men's and women's teams in the tournament. Have you seen any common denominator that you think maybe has influenced the success of both programs?
COACH PAINTER: Well, I think our program in terms of men's basketball has a lot of tradition. I think the same holds true for our women's program, also. If you have very good tradition and I think we're in a good place, good region, we're on fertile ground in terms of players for both women and men. Sometimes that's not always the case. If you have enough players in your area that always helps with that. I think that's when people say it is something is it a good job?
I feel Purdue is a good job because we have good players in the State of Indiana, we have good players in the midwest. I think there's enough to go around. I think that holds true for our women's program, also.
Q. You talk about Washington winning the Pac 10 and deserving to play a home game in the conference, any frustration winning the Big Ten and essentially playing the road game?
COACH PAINTER: Well, I think you have to play devil's advocate a little bit. We got beaten at home by Northwestern at the end of the year. If you want to put yourself in a great position, you have to do a better job to finish. We lost three out of four games in the regular season and we ended up winning the Big Ten tournament.
It would have been interesting to see at the end of the year how things stack up, how they make that decision. You like to be in that room because you never get a direct answer. Seems like everything just gets talked about in theory. But we didn't take care of our business at the end of the year in the regular season so that's why I feel that we stayed at a 5 seed.
Q. Could you kind of expand on that a little bit, in what way didn't you take care of your business? What was common maybe in those late season losses that must have been straightened out by the tournament?
COACH PAINTER: What was common was we lost, more than anything. When you lose three out of four to finish your year, what are they supposed to think? And now losing those games, did that put us on edge and help us win the Big Ten tournament? I think it did. So I take it as a positive, there's a silver lining in those losses. What did you learn? If you learned something from those losses and it made you stronger and it made you a better team, I'm glad it happened.
When when you're sitting there and you're selecting, and saying "hey, we should have been a higher seed." Look at those 4 seeds, those 4 seeds are pretty good, too. I don't know if we could have leapfrogged any of those 4 seeds. When you look at the resumes, you're splitting hairs if you're comparing them. They have a tough decision to make when you're splitting hairs with where you're heading to and what your seed is right there.
And like I said, if one of our guys or somebody that's a fan of Purdue doesn't like us being the 5 seed, we should have done a better job. We had opportunities to play. We had opportunities to win more games and we didn't.
Q. Interested with the seeding, just was there a problem in that caused those losses?
COACH PAINTER: I'm sorry. Yeah, we didn't play hard enough. I thought Northwestern was quicker to the basketball. Northwestern out rebounded us in the loss that we had. Michigan scored 50 points against us in the second half. We just allowed them to get into a rhythm. We played a game without Calasan at Michigan, and Johnson got in foul trouble and we had to play small and that hurt. We were in a little bit of scoring drought at Michigan State. I thought we did good things defensively, we struggled to keep them off the glass.
And since then we've done a very good job rebounding. And that's been key for us. When we rebound the ball and take care of the basketball, I feel we're a pretty good team. When we don't do those things, that's when we put ourselves in a little bit of a bind.
Q. Might it have helped your seeding if the Big Ten tournament was earlier in the day or even earlier in the week as opposed to being the last game played? Your game ends at 5:30, 6:00 the brackets come out?
COACH PAINTER: I don't know if that question is for me. But I think that is a great question. Do they have time to digest what you've been able to accomplish? And being the Big Ten tournament champs and watching us play in those games against three very good opponents. I think we were playing good basketball.
But you also get into the question again of comparison to those other teams. And like I said those teams in front of us had great years. So that's difficult. But I still think that's a question that needs to be put out there in terms of our league and when we play that game, is it important maybe to push it back a day or is it important to lead right into Selection Sunday, because it is great exposure for our league.
Q. What comparison we've heard to a Pac 10 school with you guys is Washington State. I'm just curious if you think that's fair at all in terms of style. And then the other is obviously if the team at Washington State has a well defined defensive system, do you have one and what are its roots?
COACH PAINTER: Almost everything we do in the blueprint, what we do is from Coach Keaty and his 25 years at Purdue. And just trying to be a tough, hard nosed man to man defensive team. That's what we're trying to do. We're trying to make that our staple. At times I think we're making strides in that area, at times we take a step back. I think our guys have worked hard towards that. I don't think we're where we need to be.
But that's, as a coach, you're always wanting more. But Washington State is a very good team. They have a lot of defensive principles that make you adjust. And after watching them on tape they're good. We don't have a center of that size. Washington State has a huge center. But there's some comparisons there. But I think we have different pieces. We have different personnel. I think that's where it gets separated a little bit. End.
Q. Can you talk about the match up with Jon Brockman a little bit and the importance of keeping him on the glass, if at all possible?
COACH PAINTER: Well, I think Brockman is one of the best players in the country, one of the best big men in the country. He's got a motor and physical strength and he's relentless. We faced Blake Griffin this year and he demands that kind of attention. You have to do a good job of not letting him get comfortable, not letting him bury you under the baskets or he's going to the free throw line or scoring an easy layup. He's a very good player. And you cannot let him get comfortable out there and you've got to check him out. I thought we did a great job against Blake Griffin and he had 19 and 21. Brockman is that type of guy, he has close to 60 double doubles in his career.
FastScripts by ASAP Sports...
Q. Justin, if you would, you and Purdue have a similar situation in that each of you had a freshman point guard come in. They have Lewis Jackson and Isaiah came in for you guys. How has he transitioned in and was it very easy to accept his style of play and what he brought to the table?
JUSTIN DENTMON: It was very easy. We knew he had scoring ability when he came in. We just needed him to come in and dial in and focus on running our teams and getting the guys involved as well as getting him involved. I think putting him to our team is like a missing piece that we have found and now we've got it.
Q. Quincy, you mentioned yesterday that your offseason workouts were starting to pay off for you and your overall work ethic was paying off. Can you talk about what it was like before and what changes have you made and how are you seeing it pay off?
QUINCY PONDEXTER: My work ethic has always been there, since high school. During the season it's hard to stay consistent with it. I was just trying to add a lot of what I do in the offseason to the in-season and it just really helps a lot.
Q. Matt Painter said he recruited you when he was at Purdue. I just wonder what you remember of him and also were you close at all to actually going to Purdue?
JUSTIN DENTMON: No, I was not close to going to Purdue, because I had Illinois on my mind at that time. So it was just a weird situation, because both Bruce Weber and Matt Painter were together, they were both recruiting at the same time.
I think he's a good coach, a good person off the court. And it would be a good match-up for somebody to know.
Q. Any of you guys can answer this. I'm assuming you've had a chance, obviously, to watch a little bit of tape on Purdue, what struck you as maybe some of their strengths?
ELSTON TURNER: Well, from what we've seen they are very fundamental and they don't beat themselves, so we're going to have to play real fundamentally sound for us, because we can't make that many mistakes, because they'll create off our turnovers, also. So just that and -- they average 11 turnovers a game. We've just got to play strong defensively and not try to force any steals, just play fundamentally sound defense.
Q. You have a little bit of an advantage in that this is essentially a home game for you. How important is it for you to have your fans here? How important was it yesterday and will it be tomorrow?
QUINCY PONDEXTER: It's important to have that support, have the fans, for them to travel and come see us play is an honor for us. We really want to play well for them, because we wouldn't want to drive far to see someone play and they don't do well or play their hardest. So it's just really like we're all thankful that they all come to see us play.
Q. Justin, are you expecting them -- they're kind of a slow down team, you guys are a high scoring team, do you expect them to pull the Washington State and control the pace and keep things low scoring?
JUSTIN DENTMON: We are expecting that. Like the coach said, they're like a Washington State last year. They've got a lot of talented guys and what we're going to do is play our game, create turnovers and try to get them in a little bit of a running game.
Q. Quincy, what is the perception out here of Big Ten basketball?
QUINCY PONDEXTER: Very physical. We see their games on TV and it's always really physical. We know one of their players, Kramer, has been a defensive player three years in a row, and he's really a tough, hard-nosed guy. And they're going to physically try to impose their will on us, and we have to play as best we can.
Q. Quincy, speaking of very physical, can you talk about what it's like to play and practice with Brockman and what sort of damage he's done over the years?
QUINCY PONDEXTER: You just better hope you're on the same team as him in practice. Even though you're on the same team, he throws an elbow and might hit you in the face. He plays as hard as he can every possession. And it's just -- it's great to learn from someone like that, because there's not many guys around the country that play as hard as he does.
Q. I heard this from one of the Washington reporters, did you guys sing Happy Birthday to Jon Brockman in the locker room back there? What did you guys get him for his birthday?
QUINCY PONDEXTER: We got a little surprise coming for him tonight, I can't really tell what it is. We're going to get him pretty good (laughter.)
Q. Doesn't sound like a gift.
QUINCY PONDEXTER: It's a gift. It's some of both.
Q. Just kind of describe how you're able to score so many points? Is it a balance kind of thing? Obviously you kind of want to push the tempo. Is that basically where the points come from?
JUSTIN DENTMON: Our points come off our defense. A good offense starts with good defense. And we try to emphasize that through practices and really when we get a stop we want to finish it with a rebound. We start inside, out. If anything else creates for the guards and then the bigs.
Q. For any of you guys, yesterday became apparent at least before the game and during the game it sounds like some of the Mississippi State players were saying how they felt Washington was soft and obviously you guys did something, but is that something where you continue to kind of maybe fight against some of these perceptions that some of these teams from other parts of the country have?
QUINCY PONDEXTER: I think that's just something that they think. They don't really get to see us play as much, because we come on late at night. And a lot of us are from California, so they think we surf all day or something. I don't see why they think that. After the game I don't think they were saying the same thing?
For me, personally, I just think that a lot of people don't respect the PAC-10 in general because of the talent that they had last year. And people are starting to realize that the Pac-10 is just as talented as it was last year, from the perspective where all the teams still play hard and still come up with wins. We have six teams in the NCAA tournament. And people are just starting to realize that we're actually for real and we're not just a joke.
Q. Justin, have you watched Kramer much and what are your impressions? He looks like the kind of guy that can give a guard a lot of problems if you can sort of lock a guy up.
JUSTIN DENTMON: He is a big guy. He's like Venoy Overton, but a little stronger. He gets into the guys with the ball. And to me it's a challenge to guard a guy like that, because you don't get too many guys that play defense like that, where you come against a great team. All I can say is it's going to be a challenge going against him.
Q. What do you see as the keys to the game tomorrow?
QUINCY PONDEXTER: Staying focused on the defensive end and rebounding shots and matching their competitiveness to win this game and playing as physical as they are. It's going to be an exciting game for both teams. We don't want our season to end and I know they don't want their season to end tomorrow. It's going to be an all out war.
Q. Justin, you know the answer to this question, so I won't ask you. For the other two guys, you both grew up in this part of the country. Do you know where Purdue is located?
QUINCY PONDEXTER: I Googled it this morning. I know their school enrollment and everything, now.
Q. Before you Googled it, where did you think they might be located?
QUINCY PONDEXTER: I knew it was in Indiana, but I didn't know exactly where. But we know now.
Q. You know the top majors and the engineering school, you know it all now?
QUINCY PONDEXTER: Yep, know it all. I was starting to Google their fight song, but I didn't want to do all that (laughter.)
ELSTON TURNER: I actually knew where Purdue was, because I'm good friends with Brad Miller who is on the Sacramento Kings and Carl Landry went to Purdue and he's on the Houston Rockets. I'm good friends with both of them, so I kind of knew where it was.
Q. Coach, I want to ask you about Jon Brockman and we see how hard he plays in the games. I wonder what he's like in practice and do you ever have to tone it down a little bit so you don't get all your guys hurt?
COACH ROMAR: He's the same in practice. He's the same in the airport. He's the same everywhere he goes. He's the same at the bowling alley. I don't even think he tries to hit the pins, I think he just tries to break the backstop behind the pins. He does everything one way. I tell this story quite a bit. When he just graduated from high school, right before he graduated from high school he had already signed to come to the University of Washington and he was on our campus. We were on the upper concourse in our gym. And I was messing around with the basketball, and kind of dribbled it off my foot. And it was about to go down the stairs down to the floor. And I had to make a decision how I was going to get it. And John just yells out without even thinking, to me, "dive"! He wanted me to dive on the ball. So you're asking me how is he in practice, is he the same that way -- he's always like that.
Q. Does he ever hurt anybody or how do the other guys react?
COACH ROMAR: He gets hurt and others have been hurt. There are several victims within our program that have encountered Jon Brockman's body one way another. He's had his nose broken half a dozen times. He's broken others half a dozen times. They kind of pass this mask around for broken noses. Just bring them the mask, we've got another one.
Q. Can you talk a little bit about the development of Isaiah Thomas's game this season. And speak a little bit about what you know about Lewis Jackson and maybe compare and contrast a little bit?
COACH ROMAR: They're both very quick and very fierce competitors. Isaiah began the year feeling very confident that he could go out and score whenever he wanted and defenses began basically suggesting to him that that wasn't going to be the case, because you'd get an occasional charge and get caught in the air. And then he backed it off a little bit and he's really, really adjusted his game to where he's now picking his spots more to where he's going to go to the basket. I give him a lot of credit for that. He's made a big adjustment that way.
Q. Can you speak a little bit about what you know about Lewis Jackson?
COACH ROMAR: Fierce competitor, extremely fast. Kind of is like Venoy Overton in defending the basketball. Can really create havoc in guarding the dribble. You have to protect the ball around him. He's a good penetrator in his own right.
Q. Is it an oversimplification to reduce this game to a match-up of a team that likes to play up tempo and score the ball versus a typical Big Ten team that is more plodding and defensive-oriented?
COACH ROMAR: If you compare the two of us you may say that they're a little more -- you used the word plodding, I'd say a little more conservative than we are. But if you watch that Purdue team closely, if they have an opportunity to get it and run it down your throat, they will.
Michigan State is a little bit like that. If they have an opportunity to run, they won't run a half court offense, they'll run and get baskets in transition. They slow the game down and play like a plodding pace, as you said, they really get down and pressure the ball and try to take away your entry passes.
A lot of teams that slow the ball down, they just kind of sit back and play a conservative packed man-to-man. Purdue is not like that, I think they're versatile. They can push the ball at you, but when they run the half court, they will not take bad shots, they take their time and reverse the basketball. And I think we're more on the attack mode offensively and defensively.
Q. It seemed like against Mississippi State there was a very unique dynamic in the terms of they have the great shot blocker and four-guard. Does Purdue's makeup feel more like a standard PAC-10 team, a little more like what you would see during the season?
COACH ROMAR: Not really, because I don't think there's a PAC-10 team that uses all five guys out on the floor like Purdue does. Their bigs step out on the floor and can knock the perimeter shot down, everyone on that floor can do that. And with their motion your bigs, which will be our bigs tomorrow, placed in positions all over the floor and sometimes guys just aren't comfortable defending out there. So they're a little different than any of the PAC-10 teams that we faced this year in that regard.
Q. Their guard, Kramer, is the kind of guy who can lock up a guy, it seems like. I wonder what you think about his presence and what that will mean for your guards?
COACH ROMAR: Well, he definitely has a presence. He told our guys he reminds me of a guy that is a student athlete at University of Washington named Jake Locker. He's a quarterback and he's huge. You look at Kramer, that's what he looks like. He's tough. He's around that basketball. He's got a nose for the ball. You have to be careful when he's around anywhere because he'll steal you blind. Very strong, very strong, physical.
Q. How will Isaiah and Justin do against him?
COACH ROMAR: How will Isaiah and Justin do? We'll see. Those guys are pretty quick, so I'm sure it will be a strong battle, because Kramer is quick, as well, but he's also strong.
Q. Does Brockman currently have a broken nose? We heard something maybe from yesterday.
COACH ROMAR: He says he does. I haven't totally figured it out yet (laughter.) He's got a broken nose, he says he has a broken nose, but he doesn't have a mask. And I think he's just so used to having them he's just going to finish it out. Yeah, I broke my nose again, let's play. That's just kind of how he is. He says he thinks he broke it.
Q. But doesn't anticipate wearing a mask as far as you know?
COACH ROMAR: No. He didn't wear one last night and he got hit in the nose last night. And he just said, I got hit in the nose, and that was it.
Q. You guys led the PAC-10 in scoring, can you talk about why you're able to have offensive success, at least in putting points on the board?
COACH ROMAR: Our team is very unique in that we don't really have a three point shooting attack unless Justin Dentmon or Elston Turner is really on a roll on that particular night. What we've been able to do is really attack the basket in terms of offensive rebounding, penetration and then just throwing the ball inside. That has allowed us to get to the free three throw line quite a bit.
We've compensated for a lack of three point shooting with being able to get to the foul line. We also like to get out in transition. But even in games when we weren't able to score a lot of baskets in transition, we were still able to get to the foul line more than our opponents, and that's helped us with our scoring.
Q. It seems like Venoy is really starting to get a bigger and bigger reputation nationally as being a great on-ball defender. Coach Painter said he's probably going to be the best on-ball defender that Purdue has seen all year long. How do you straddle that fine line between letting him do what he does and also the things that come along with that?
COACH ROMAR: Last year, I remember specifically talking to Venoy about being too conservative and not being just more of a tough guy at times. And this year, I think -- I don't think I've had to talk to him about that. There is a fine line. I think there is a game within a game when you're out there playing. There's the game being played and within that game you and your opponent are trying to develop an edge of some kind.
And the play that was made when he got hit by that screen last night and was clocked when he didn't see it coming, I thought showed a lot of what Venoy Overton was about. He got right back up, he goes coast to coast for a layup and goes back on the defensive end and draws a charge, due to Venoy's ball pressure. You tell him to tone it down, I think you take away from his aggressiveness a bit. We're not into getting flagrant fouls and taunting, that we do not encourage. But at the same time I think there are some players that you let them have their space within reason.
Q. Are there certain perceptions that people out here have about Big Ten basketball? Are there certain perceptions that people in the midwest have of PAC-10 basketball?
COACH ROMAR: Well, typically I think the reputation for both is that the Big Ten is -- you used the word again, of more a plodder's conference. And they're very physical and everything is just kind of in the paint. It's maybe a slow-downed, conservative-type of basketball. Where the PAC-10 is more a finesse, wide open conference. I can tell you the PAC-10 has changed a little bit in that we have some teams in our league, probably half the teams in our league that play more of a conservative, slow down pace and very physical pace.
Q. Coach, when Quincy gets himself going like he did yesterday, how does that affect what you guys can do and how other teams have to set up for you?
COACH ROMAR: It gives us another option that makes it a little more difficult for our opponents to scout and defend. I don't think you can take away four guys. When we prepare for teams it's very difficult for us to take away four guys in terms of their productivity. You've got to pick your poison. And there have been games where you can see the game plan was to just stop Jon Brockman and Justin Dentmon and Isaiah Thomas have gone off.
I think here as of late the plan has been these two guards here were All-Conference guards. They're first and second leading scorers on the team. We've got to shut them down. And then Quincy Pondexter goes out and by halftime, maybe the scout has changed a little bit. Now we've got to stop Quincy. So it just makes it a little more difficult for teams to prepare for us, I would think.
I think the ideal situation is to have five guys in double figures, whether that be 10.0 to 11.5, if they were all this that number. But five guys on the floor that are capable of scoring that you can't leave off alone by themselves, that they are a scoring threat. I think that's when we are at our best. And Quincy Pondexter provides a lot of that.
Q. What will you emphasize to your team tomorrow in your pregame remarks?
COACH ROMAR: Well, they're going to be a very tough team. They're going to be physically tough. We can't get out-competed. And we have to be fundamentally sound.
Tomorrow's game is not a game where you experiment and try to make high risk plays, because Purdue will make you pay for it every time you make a mistake.
Q. Coach, have you heard from Brandon Roy or any of the guys from that era this week, and also do you consider, if you take that run and this run, do you consider them in your career two separate runs or all part of your Washington career?
COACH ROMAR: Boy, that's an interesting question. First of all, during the week that we won the PAC-10 championship one way or another we heard from a lot of those guys. We've been in touch even this week back and forth with some of those guys. Some of them have even come -- some of them even came to the game yesterday.
I think this is all one run. I think that the three years that we went in executive years to the NCAA tournament was a team that grew together. That team was broken up due to graduation and a couple of transfers, maybe. And we kind of had to rebuild. And during that rebuilding process we did it with a very, very young team that wasn't quite ready to have great leadership. We went through two years of that and I think the third year here is kind of the connecting team to those first three years to continue what was going on.
Q. You talked a little earlier about how sometimes teams are defending certain ways so that some of the other players in the team go off. Given the fact that Isaiah and Justin were 4 for 20 yesterday, are you seeing that, as a factor of defenses trying to take them out of the game now or has there been something else that accounted for something like that?
COACH ROMAR: I don't think there was any question, Justin and Isaiah were not getting the looks they got before. When Isaiah Thomas gets the ball right now, teams are loading up in the paint. Not unlike we do when we played against James Harden from Arizona State, Darren Collison, guys like that. Teams are just not giving him open lanes and then if you notice Justin Dentmon has a great shot fake and he has to use it a lot because teams are closing out on him.
Last night there was a situation on an out-of-bounds play where Justin Dentmon went to shoot and the guy's hand was there, he gave him a shot fake, the guy was done, and before Justin could regroup to shoot again, another guy was jumping at him. That has been typical the last part of the season. You can see that teams are gearing to stop those guys.
Q. Of the guys who have not been in the tournament before yesterday what impressed you most about how they handled all the other off the court or the atmosphere and everything that goes with this event?
COACH ROMAR: It comes from our leadership. If we were talking next year, maybe I could answer this question better. But right now our leadership is so good that the younger players are playing off of the lead of the older players. John and Justin Dentmon have been in the NCAA tournament as freshmen, and they learned a lot from the seniors when they were here. They are turning it around and being an example to our younger players. I've been impressed with the leadership. If I'm impressed with anything about our younger players, is them being able to put their egos aside and look to the leadership to kind of point the way.
Q. With Gonzaga also in this building do you see them as a chief recruiting rival, and also will you pick that series up with them again, playing them every year?
COACH ROMAR: No. 1, we've been here seven years and I would say conservatively two or three times we've gone down to the wire with someone where it was Washington and gone an as their last two schools. So I would say, no. We're not recruiting rivals with them, either we don't recruit the same players or when we do the decision is made before the guys really narrow it down, it's made pretty early.
Secondly, at some point the series will resume.
Q. Will that be soon, coach?
COACH ROMAR: Don't know. Don't know. But I can leave you with it will be resumed, just pry that door and just trying to keep -- (laughter.)
Q. With Turner, obviously it seems like he slowly built up his game over the course of the year. The last few games he's had, is that something you've seen coming?
COACH ROMAR: Way back in November in Kansas City, Elston Turner had a couple of good games, one good game in particular where he shot the ball well. And we saw in preseason how he just -- he was mature beyond his years. Then he hurt his ankle against Morgan State right before conference started. And he was out. He wasn't able to practice a couple of weeks. I think he missed about three weeks. And that set him back a little bit and it took him a while to get his conditioning back. And he was a freshman. It took him some games to just get better and get acclimated to college basketball.
It is now I think starting to kick in. It started I'd say a couple of weeks ago. And it's something if he wouldn't have been hurt we probably would have seen this type of play earlier in the year.