Painter shows loyalty to Purdue
Matt Painter is a rare breed in the coaching fraternity, valuing toughness and defense over glitz and glamour.
He’s a man’s man, a rare guy who actually looks good in black and maize.
He’s all about three-hour practices, no BS and the mentality that you win games by playing harder than the opposition.
Painter is old school.
Ultimately, that’s why he’s still at Purdue.
Sure, there are more bells and whistles at Missouri, the place Painter flirted with over the last few days. He could have gotten more money for himself and his assistants — and maybe even had a more realistic opportunity to go to a Final Four — in Columbia.
Just imagine Painter coaching guys such as Marcus Denmon, Kim English and Phil Pressey at Missouri.
But he couldn’t do it.
Couldn’t leave home. Couldn’t leave Robbie Hummel.
Painter, 40, has spent the past six seasons at the helm and has completely rebuilt his alma mater. His first season was a mess, but he was able to persuade four players to come to West Lafayette and try to do something special.
He got Hummel, JaJuan Johnson, E’Twaun Moore and Scott Martin, who later transferred to Notre Dame, to commit to Purdue basically as a package deal.
That elevated the program.
Hummel, Johnson and Moore have been responsible for the Boilermakers making Sweet 16 appearances in 2009 and 2010.
If Hummel didn’t tear his knee up at the end of the 2010 campaign and again prior to this season, there’s no telling how far the Boilermakers would have gone.
Maybe a national title. Maybe even two.
Hummel will be back next year, but the Boilermakers will take a hit off this past season’s 26-8 team that lost to VCU in the second round of the NCAA tournament.
They lost Johnson and Moore and no one knows how much toll a pair of major knee surgeries will take on Hummel.
Painter was serious about Missouri. He wouldn’t have done this little dance if that weren’t the case. Painter isn’t a self-promoter; he wanted more support for the basketball program.
It wasn’t about elevating his $1.9 million salary at Purdue.
It was about winning at the highest level and being able to play on an even playing field.
Painter may never again have the type of team he put together at Purdue over the last four years. He’s got some talent with Hummel, veteran point guard Lewis Jackson and Terone Johnson — who should make vast strides from his freshman to sophomore campaign.
But Painter isn’t stupid.
He realizes Missouri is a better job; that’s why he went as far down the road as he did with Tigers athletic director Mike Alden.
However, as much as he understood that, he couldn’t walk away.
Painter is a man’s man, a good man — and a loyal man.