WEST LAFAYETTE – If the words of Purdue men's basketball coach Matt Painter are accurate – and historical data show that they are – the game plan for the Boilermakers (5-6) to beat William and Mary (7-3) today (2 p.m., ESPN3, ESPN 1380-AM) should be pretty simple.
Painter spoke recently of two critical statistical areas that are required for successful basketball.
“If you can out-rebound your opponent and have fewer turnovers, then you're going to win the game,” Painter said.
On average, Purdue has done a good job of rebounding the basketball this season. The Boilermakers average almost 10 more boards per game than their opponents' have grabbed. However, when it comes to taking care of the basketball, well, there is a reason why Purdue has the worst record in the Big Ten at this juncture. Purdue also has 10 more turnovers than its opponents have committed (153 to 143) this season, as well as more miscues than assists (149).
“We're a team that beats ourselves,” Painter said. “A lot of coaches would say that that struggle. But let's make the other team beat us. Let's take care of the ball. Let's rebound. Let's do the little things. We're not a fundamentally sound team.”
When Purdue plays hard (against the glass) and smart (minimizing turnovers), not very many teams have ever beaten a Painter-coached squad.
“We've only had one loss when we've (out-rebounded and had fewer turnovers),” Painter said of his eight years in West Lafayette. “It speaks for itself how important those two categories are.”
That area of focus is a key reason why freshman Rapheal Davis has seen inconsistent playing time.
The Fort Wayne native has been great at times (21 points against Notre Dame), but struggled at other times (14 turnovers and only eight assists).
“No matter who we play,” Painter said, “we have to make good decisions and we have to be consistent.”