Purdue Alumnus, now head coach of Matt Painter's ever-evolving basketball program
Overcoming the toughest moments of a hugely successful 2022-2023 season, Purdue men's basketball coach Matt Painter returns to what he knows best.
Humility and gratitude.
"It's all about the process, and whether we win or lose, that's what we have to focus on," Painter told the media after losing a competitive game to Indiana.
Anyone can have a good team; a good program has lasting success. And they do it according to the rules and they evaluate their players. There is nothing more and nothing less.Matt Schilder
Purdue men's basketball coach
While there were inevitable bumps on the road during Team Painter's last race, there have been plenty of victories recently. In the end, the Boilermakers won their 25th Big Ten championship with two games left in the regular season. But that doesn't change anything for the team or the Boilermaker team. This is for the next training with the focus on improvement.
Painter's program is among the elite in college basketball and has taken it to an even higher level in the past two years. The Boilermakers became the first Big Ten band in 45 years to take first place. 1 in subsequent seasons. However, the word elite is not at the top of Painter's vocabulary.
It refers to the legendary football coach Bill Walsh who used the term "excellence" in building an NFL dynasty with the San Francisco 49ers.
“Excellence is just lasting success; that's all," says Painter, known in basketball circles for his "beautiful" basketball mind and rare ability to communicate through simplicity. “Anyone can have a good team; a good program has lasting success. And they do it according to the rules and they evaluate their players.
"There is nothing more and nothing less."
"He just surpassed everyone"
But achieving this success was indeed a process. After coaching the legendary Gene Keady, Painter won just nine games in 2005 in his first season. But that's where the rebuild began - bringing together enough talent to compete at the top level in the Big Ten.
He spent the 2004-2005 school year doing whatever was necessary to lay the groundwork for acquiring and recruiting four first-class players, three of whom would form the basis of the program's revival: Robbie Hummel, JaJuan Johnson and E'Twaun Moore.
"He outclassed everyone. I felt like he was at all my games when I was in high school," says Hummel. "Nike's American Peach Jam camp didn't matter. It was everywhere."
Painter is a rare coach who likes to see seasonal perspectives in the high school environment. During Indiana game week, he traveled to southern Indiana to meet a high school sophomore. And that work ethic in recruitment and beyond continues to this day.
“I see it when I get a chance to see the kids who could shape our program in the future,” says Painter. "I need to see the kids in their environment and evaluate as much as possible how they are doing on and off the track."
There are no shortcuts in the Painter process.
And in recruiting, Painter and his team have built a reputation for finding diamonds in the rough. Braden Smith, Purdue's top rookie, did not receive a scholarship from a program close to the level of the Big Ten. Zach Edey flew under the radar of "elite" programs.
“There is no politics at Purdue or Coach Paint,” says Edey. “He's very direct. If you're good enough, you have a chance to play."
But the way things were handled after Edey's arrival at West Lafayette confirmed that the Toronto resident had chosen the best college.
“It's about being accountable to the program and to each other,” says Edey. "I can run for National Player of the Year, but I have to do the same as everyone else. I haven't missed a class in a few years (when Purdue isn't traveling) because that's what my teammates are all about and I Expect. You do it in Paint.
Edey's teammate Mason Gillis says Painter's models do the little things well, which leads to success.
"He's not a good leaderperfectleader," says Gillis, who says the main difference between this year's team and last year's is that everyone heeds what the coaches say. “From a leadership perspective, I've learned that it doesn't necessarily matter what you do when you're leading a group of people; stick to what you do. And our coach does that every day and it helps us stay united."
And although Purdue now ranks high in the national top, times have been tough under Painter. Two weaker seasons, including the last place, gave some food for thought on the direction of the series. It is often said, though rarely applied, that we learn our character when things do not go according to plan, in the most difficult moments.
"In my first year, we lost three games in a row - to North Florida, Vanderbilt and Notre Dame," said Rapheal Davis, current Big Ten Network analyst and 2015 Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year. “We were in the locker room and I remember seeing (teammate and current director of player development) P.J. (Thompson) that Paint will be fired.
"As a player you don't want your coach fired and we've seen him stay the course and stay true to himself. He knew it was business and the reality was he had to win, but he never lost his focus on what it took to reach the top."
In fact, university officials never lost faith in Painter. Purdue Chairman of the Board of Trustees Mike Berghoff, who had been the board's athletics liaison for many years, was convinced that things were about to change. And the patience that college officials had to show during these downtimes paid off.
However, one of the areas Berghoff likes most about Painter is the desire to constantly improve, and the fact that when the program needs improvement in an area that requires management support, Painter always has a good reason to do so.
"I understand the passion of getting to the Final Four and wanting to win a national championship, and I think that's the right thing to do," says Berghoff. "I think it's fundamental that the university and the technical committee know that's what is expected, but I have no doubt that they know why they want more than we do. The men's basketball program lives with that thought every minute of every day."
Painter believes the expectations of all levels of government are critical, as is the alignment between the college sports administration and the men's basketball program.
“We have everything we need to be successful,” says Painter. “However, this is a fine line. We want to have what we need without being needy. We're trying to be a low-maintenance program."
The breakthrough is coming
Berghoff is confident Purdue will reach the Final Four under Painter sooner rather than later. Bumblebee too.
"He's very dedicated to doing the right thing," says Hummel. "And for them it takes longer, for him it takes longer, but he's not going to cut corners. He will not cheat. He will not sell his soul to NIL (name-image-like) or a transfer portal.
“He has confidence in who he is, which makes him unique. He became exactly the coach he wanted to be."
Director of Basketball Operations Elliot Bloom, who has been with Purdue's men's basketball program since college in the 1990s, attempts to reach the pinnacle of college basketball, such as climbing Mount Everest.
"Each year our base is a little higher up in the mountains, which means we have to climb a little less," says Bloom, one of Painter's most trusted collaborators. “We want to break through and get to the Final Four and put ourselves in a position to win the national championship.
"Until you have it, you're never satisfied, but at the same time, there are about 300 programs that would like to trade with us."
Painter will continue to build the best team with the best characters at every level of the show.
"You have to make sure you do your homework, keep researching, ask the right people to get an answer," says Painter, referring to recruiting but applicable to all areas of his business. “You have to be grateful for the opportunities; you must be humble. You must be trained.
“If you have these qualities, competitive attitude and enough skills, you will go somewhere. People with these characteristics I call multipliers. Robbie Hummel is a multiplier and Braden Smith is a multiplier. They are more than just a player; make others better."
All in all, he is building and continuing to build a program that is a model in the world of college basketball.
Screenplay: Alan Karpickakarpick@goldandblack.com
(Matt Painter) believes in who he is, which makes him unique. He became exactly the coach he wanted to be.Robbie HummelCollege Basketball television analyst and former Purdue All-American
Purdue men's basketball coach Matt Painter is the highest paid Purdue employee, with a salary of $2,109,633.50.What is Matt Painter salary at Purdue? ›
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John Calipari, The University of Kentucky
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I just thought they played really hard and did a lot of really good things. Whether the turnovers, it was us or it was them, it was still a well-played game on their end of things. It's hard, it's a really hard thing. We worked very hard and done things the right way in our program.Does Matt Painter have a family? › How many children does Matt Painter have? ›
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Paid to Watch Paint Dry
Incredibly enough, the man behind the job is 34-year-old research scientist Dr. Thomas Curwen. He works for Dulux, an international company passionate about delivering high-quality paints. And his job is to watch paint dry, observing changes in color and texture.
The answer is yes. As an artist there are many avenues that you can explore to monetize your talent, allow yourself to be your own boss and spend your days doing what you love. Picture this: Waking up every morning without dreading the day ahead because you are in charge of your day and what you do with it.Who is highest paid coach in all college sports? ›
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John Calipari, The University of Kentucky
It's no wonder Calipari is the highest-paid men's basketball coach in the NCAA by a $2.57 million margin.