WEST LAFAYETTE – When Purdue (4-4) takes to the basketball court on Saturday at Eastern Michigan (2 p.m., ESPN3, 1380-AM), Boilermakers coach Matt Painter won't know to what extent that he'll end up utilizing guard Dru Anthrop, but he knows exactly what he'll get from the senior.
“He simply plays harder than the other guys,” Painter said after Purdue's win over Lamar earlier this week. “He carries out his assignments. He's just solid.”
Anthrop played a career-high 23 minutes in the victory over the Cardinals and was very productive, not necessarily in the box score (three points, three assists, four steals), but in a lot of ways that never show up in the statistics.
“You need people being just solid,” Painter said. “You always trust guys that try and do what you ask them to do. There is always a place for somebody that will do exactly what the boss wants to do.”
Not only will there be a “place” for Anthrop, but there very well might be a bigger “place” for the former walk-on according to Painter.
“I've made a huge mistake not playing him,” Painter said. “I think that is the one thing as a coach that you have to openly admit is when you make mistakes.”
Anthrop's time on the court through his first three seasons was very consistent. It consistently did not exist.
The Lafayette Central Catholic graduate played in just eight games as a freshman (averaging less than two minutes per game), nine games as a sophomore (averaging two minutes) and just 12 games a year ago (averaging three minutes).
This season, Anthrop has totaled 60 minutes of playing time, and he'll probably pass his three-year total (70 minutes) against the Eagles (5-2) today.
“Every team needs a guy like Dru,” Boilermaker guard Terone Johnson said. “He's on top of things. He's the type of guy, as soon as he gets a shot, he's going to go hard.”
Anthrop has been given a shot this season, but it has not been consistent. He's totaled two against Bucknell, 14 against Hofstra, one against Villanova, seven against Oregon State and 13 against UNCW.
Never knowing how much he'll be used doesn't have an effect on his mentality, he says.
“It comes with the preparation,” Anthrop said. “Each game (I need) to know the scouting report, try to know the tendencies as best I can, and just try and be ready when my number's called. That's how it's been throughout my career.”
He is one of two seniors on this year's team, and even though Anthrop hasn't put up impressive numbers throughout his career, Painter understands how big of a hole someone with Anthrop's attitude will leave when he graduates.
“You really don't value those guys as much as you should until they're gone,” Painter said. “I think that is the true value of a player is when you don't quite realize some things, and then when they're gone, man, do you miss them.”