“Move! Move! Move!” can be heard any time Purdue head coach Matt Painter paces the sideline.
The Boilermaker coaching staff preaches moving without the ball. When players move without the ball, the idea is that players get open and all their teammates have to do is make the pass. In Saturday night’s 81-49 victory against Jacksonville State, the Boilers performed from the tip-off to the final whistle.
Against most teams, Purdue has an advantage down low. The Boilermakers have 7-foot, 3-inch junior center Matt Haarms, who is a matchup nightmare. They also have sophomore Trevion Williams, who has a strong touch inside and a solid post game. One of Purdue’s issues this year has been getting the ball to these two.
“From an offensive standpoint, just trying to establish an inside presence and getting the ball inside, that’s something we harped on,” Painter said. “We go too long periods of time where we don’t throw the ball inside.”
The Boilermakers forced the issue down low Saturday and blew the game out of the water because of it. Williams came off the bench and scored 9 straight points that forced the Gamecocks into a zone. Then in the second half, Haarms had 15 points and seven rebounds to seal the deal for Purdue.
“Guys were really looking for us on the plays we ran early where we specifically try to get it inside,” Haarms said. “What I really noticed was they were looking for us for longer. It’s going to take just being aggressive every time. I can’t just (slack) off and do what I used to do and be content with that. I’ve got to be willing to step up and willing to ask for the ball longer.”
Senior Jahaad Proctor also had a big day. He had 14 points in the game and went on a solo 8-point run at the beginning of the second half.
Painter said Saturday was the only time this season the team played well in the second half, and Proctor was a big part of that. Any time Purdue would begin to have a dry spell, he would score a timely bucket to re-energize the squad.
“We’re trying to get him to be aggressive and take shots that come his way,” Painter said.
While Purdue showed improvement against the Gamecocks, next week’s games against possibly two ranked opponents — Virginia Commonwealth and Tennessee or Florida State — will be true tests for the Boilermakers.
“We have four more practices before we play Friday and Saturday,” Painter said. “Obviously, we’ll be a lot lighter on Thursday than the other days. We got to get better here. It’s hard when you play a lot of games because then you have to try make your improvements through competition, which you still can.
“But in college when you get a chance to practice early in the season, you have to make some strides.”