Purdue guard not lacking in confidence or efficiency

Purdue guard Carsen Edwards (3) shoots around SIU-Edwardsville forward Jalen Henry (24) in the second half of a recent game in West Lafayette. (By The Associated Press)
Chicago State guard Glen Burns, left, and Purdue forward Grady Eifert, right, fight to control the ball in the second half of a recent game Sunday in West Lafayette. (By The Associated Press)
Purdue men's basketball coach Matt Painter watches his team play against Chicago State in the first half of a recent game Sunday in West Lafayette. (By The Associated Press)

Veteran Purdue men’s basketball coach Matt Painter has a real dilemma on his hands in dealing with sophomore guard Carsen Edwards.

But before you feel badly for either party, hold it right there for a moment, because no opposing team or coach is going to cry any tears for the Boilermakers in regards to their coach having to deal with his talented young star.

“Great offensive players,” Painter said recently, “they mess up offenses. They always have. Glenn Robinson, Caleb Swanigan, they want to get the ball and they want you to get the Hell out of the way. But it just doesn’t work that way.”

“If it were a one-on-one game then it’d make a lot of sense.”

As a freshman, Edwards played a lot of minutes (nearly 24 per game) – because of his talent. He didn’t always make the right decisions with the basketball – because of his talent – according to Painter.

“The problem that he has,” Painter said, “is that he is so confident in his ability and sometimes it is hard to pull back. You wrestle with that (as a coach) every day.”

Painter is doing a whole lot less “wrestling” so far this season, however.

Edwards passed off for 62 assists a year ago, but he also turned the ball over 64 times. However, through two games this year – albeit, against less than stout competition – Edwards has totaled five assists and has yet to turn the ball over.

Painter explained that Edwards is really dangerous in transition, but when a defense gets back and is set, that is where the young player is still growing in deciphering how to attack those.

“People will hold their defense, they’ll pack things in,” Painter said, “you’ve got to be able to play with your teammates and move the ball. Anytime that you can move the ball, use your dribble, set good screens, now you are going to create space to play in.”

Through the first two games, Edwards was averaging over 20 points per game, but he isn’t just chucking shots up there. Prior to Tuesday’s 86-71 victory over Marquette, Edwards was making 62.5 percent of his shots, including an astonishing 54.5 percent from long range. He finished Tuesday’s game with 15 points on 6-of-11 shooting.

“I think it is important for everybody to be efficient,” Painter said in a post-game press conference following Purdue’s most recent win (a 111-42 blowout of Chicago State). “Obviously, Carsen is very talented and he’s a very confident player. Making the right decisions early in the offense is really important for him.”


Painter went deep into his bench in consecutive blowouts the first two games of the season. Nine different players are averaging double-figure minutes, including junior forward Grady Eifert.

The Bishop Dwenger alum is getting over 14 minutes per game and he is active to the point that Painter is noticing him and pleased with his effort.

Eifert finished with eight points off the bench for the Boilers on Tuesday against Marquette.

“The guy that he was behind (last year) was third team all-conference for us,” Painter said of fellow Boiler forward Vince Edwards. “So, it was nothing that (Eifert) has done wrong to get more minutes. But if you keep getting seven rebounds in 12 minutes, you’re going to help your cause.”

Painter was citing Eifert’s stats in an exhibition rout of NAIA program Carroll (Mont.), but the 6-foot-6 Eifert has done well against NCAA Division I competition also.

“He’s been the best rebounder for us in practice,” Painter said. “Grady has been able to do wonders. He plays hard.”

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