Purdue and Painter are struggling

By Gus Bode

Don’t feel sorry for Matt Painter. It’s going to take awhile, but the Boilermakers will be just fine.

The former SIU men’s basketball head coach only ran the show in Carbondale for one year, but he had one heck of a season. A season that saw the Salukis reach as high as 15th in the AP poll, win a conference regular season and make another trip to the NCAA tournament.

He performed so well that in Painter’s first year as a head coach he was named Missouri Valley Conference Coach of the Year. With all the success came a ride on the coaching carousel, a regime-changing circus that Saluki fans are all too familiar with.


While some felt betrayed by Painter’s decision to return to his alma mater, how can you blame him?

Painter is from Muncie, Ind. He played at Purdue where he averaged 4.5 points a game and he bleeds black and gold. Painter also has a chance to assist his mentor Gene Keady on one final voyage together. They put on their skipper hats and climbed aboard the sinking S.S. Boilermaker.

Purdue’s stock is certainly plummeting. The program is on the decline and falling even further into national obscurity with every game. If the Boilermakers lost by less than twenty points, it was a good night.

Keady hasn’t effectively recruited in years, and Purdue’s current winless record in the Big Ten and 4-12 overall record reflects that. It looks like Northwestern lucked out this year because they don’t have to spend the season in the Big Ten basement.

The Boilermakers are led by junior Carl Landry, a 6-foot-7, 239 lb forward who is called upon to do it all. He leads the Boilermakers in points with 18.4 a game, snags the most rebounds with 7.3 per contest and is the only shining light in West Lafayette.

Boilermaker message board posters are upset with the way Keady’s final season has unfolded. They have every right to be displeased. Boards are plastered with comments on how to right the ship. The main theme is that Purdue needs to reload on talent. Take a deep breath Saluki fans, talent is something SIU is currently stocked with.

You can’t blame the Boilermaker’s record on Painter. These aren’t his guys and he isn’t calling all the plays. It is going to be a long year at Purdue, but help is on the way.


With the unique set up of Painter’s assistant head coach position, he is allowed to get out and recruit a little more than he would if the reigns were in his hands this season. Painter played a vital part in acquiring a verbal commitment from Korey Spates, one of the top guards in Ohio who is currently ranked 18th by Prep Spotlight, a ranking system for high school athletes.

Boilermaker fans hope that Spates will be a staple in the backcourt for the next four years.

Painter’s biggest task is to instill the same in-your-face defense-first mentality that he had success with at SIU. Painter will also have to get his team to put forth the effort required by the frantic motion offense. He also needs to regroup his coaching staff and suit it to his needs.

Next year Painter takes over and the true measuring of his coaching ability can begin. Painter will be scrutinized under a much stronger microscope than the one at Southern Illinois, and if the message board posters are right, he may only have three to four years to get off the ground.

If he succeeds, it will shed the same positive light on the SIU program that Bruce Weber’s success at Illinois has done. SIU has become a breeding ground for Big Ten coaches in the last few years, and that reflects on the quality of the Salukis’ rising program.

Let’s just hope that the coaching carousel doesn’t rumble through Carbondale again later this year. The word on the street is that Indiana might be the next Big Ten school looking for a new head coach come April.