Where Matty Got It Right
NOW WHAT??? (photo credit: confessionsofasportsjunkie)
As you all know, Purdue is interviewing starting point guards right now for the 2014-15 season...If they're in the market for an overweight PG who can't shoot and has lost a step or three, I might be their guy; Coach, I'll await your call.
I had a few conversations yesterday with people that know what really happened yesterday, and it sounds like there are few surprises around this. Let's go back in the way-back machine for a moment to see how/why this might have set up.
When Ronnie Johnson was recruited, just like in Terone's case, their Dad wasn't around. You can do some research as to why (it's not difficult to find with ten digits and a website called Google). But clearly, their Mom liked Matt Painter and how he ran his program...compare and contrast that with rumors of why other players landed at MSU, Duke, UND, IU (just off of the top of my head) or other schools and you quickly begin to understand that the parents' opinion matters...A LOT...when it comes to recruiting and signing with a school.
Following Ronnie's signing, his Dad got back into the picture, and within months, rumors of his unhappiness with Painter and the program began to surface. I have no press credentials, no insider that leaks me info, and I knew about the Johnson family's beef with Painter. Sadly, it sounds like that's pretty much all there is to know about this transfer.
Ronnie and Terone's Dad didn't like the way Ronnie was used within Purdue's system. I'm not sure if he didn't like that Ronnie wasn't a shooting guard like his brother or that Purdue didn't run the Loyola Marymount (circa the Hank Gathers era) system of offense...but he was disgruntled and wanted it changed. Painter wouldn't change the system or situation for one guy...or one family...so Ronnie walked.
Matt Painter got it right in this case. Painter did not push Ronnie out of the door, but he didn't beg him to stay either...in fact, I'm guessing he told him that he needed to find someplace that was a good fit if Purdue wasn't it. Hats off to Painter for this side of this situation. But, I can't give full, unequivocal kudos to Purdue's 9th year coach in this case.
I can't blame Painter for wanting both of the brothers Johnson to play at Purdue...they were (and are) tough, talented basketball players. I can't even blame him for the way the ending went down since all of the dynamics changed with the re-emergence of Papa Johnson into the picture...what I can blame Coach Painter for is not sticking to his guns during this season.
If I knew about this simmering story back around Christmas, Painter probably did too. In his defense, it might have been rumor and conjecture that brought it to him, but he knew...and if body language didn't tell enough of the story, Painter told the rest. On multiple occasions this season Painter lamented that certain players simply weren't following the game plan...and you can tell that one of those guys was Ronnie. He took open 19 footers early in the shot clock that were as good as turnovers, he drove too deeply into the lane, panicked and actually turned the ball over...we all saw it. Whether it was the devil on Ronnie shoulder that made him play like a Freshman in the second half of the season or just his own lack of maturity, he didn't deserve to play the minutes that he played. In his last four games as a Purdue player, Ronnie played one well. That's a fact...and it's too bad that the way he played in those games will gloss over the fact that he showed signs of growth before bailing on Purdue.
I think Ronnie really loved being at Purdue...really loved playing with his brother...and even really liked Painter and his potential within the system at one time. And unlike some of the transfers that have occurred in the last few years, I won't lay all blame at the feet of Painter. He was given no option at the end of the season...but had many at the midpoint.
Back in December we all knew that Bryson Scott wasn't as ready to play point in the B1G as we all had hoped he'd be. That said, while he made and makes dumb errors, he never seemed to be intentionally blowing up a game plan...AND, unlike Ronnie, he actually has a decent jump shot that doesn't knuckleball out of his hands upon release; so there's upside.
A few of my friends said Painter had no options. Bullsh*t. While Purdue wasn't as deep as I wish they would have been at the 1, he should have treated RonJon like an injured player at the moment that he saw he wasn't on board and began the process of moving on. Maybe he thought he could change things with PT...but I don't think Painter works that way. What we know he thought is there were players who weren't buying in, he said so, so did a few of the guys on the roster months ago; perhaps two of those who didn't buy in should have been sitting? I dunno.
If Painter is the principled old school guy that he seems to be, I'm kind of shocked that he didn't play Jon McKeeman or try Basil Smotherman at the point (after Carter's injury) out of spite...but he didn't...and Purdue still lost games by the bunches...and now, one of the reasons that Purdue might have lost 7 straight to end the season is gone, and Painter MUST swallow the bitter medicine.
One of our Twitter pals lamented that he hasn't even had a chance to just cry in a dark corner by himself in the wake of the crappy season...and it's true, Purdue basketball won't just let us lick our wounds and slink away. Heck, with Hammons decision still looming extrie-large right now, we might go through a roster shrink (in all ways) yet again in the coming week(s).
Purdue already has an incoming class of five players due to the commitment of Indianapolis Brebeuf's PJ Thompson last week...So the reigns will be handed over to a Sophomore with not much control or a true-Frosh, at this point. Once again, Painter will be forced to go the JuCo or 5th year transfer route this Spring...furthermore, coincidentally, most of the PGs of note that were available just weeks ago, have signed with other programs in the last two weeks.
On the heels of two straight lousy seasons, one of them incredibly-disappointing, Purdue seems to be in a state of rebuilding for the second-straight season. If you believe that simply ridding the program of one bad personality cures all ails, you haven't been watching very closely. Our Boilers are stuck in neutral, perpetually young and in complete disarray. The players that want to be in gold and black, regardless of class, need to become leaders by this afternoon in order for things to change quickly. The problem is, of course, leaders don't just happen, they're created with time, learning situations and pressure. And, of course, to be regarded as a leader, you actually have to have people follow. We all see that a few members of this team have potential, but at this point, that's really all they are is potential until we see them lead the team in game situations...so again, we wait.
I'm not buying in to the idea that what's happened in the last month (Simpson's health and Ronnie's transfer) gives Painter another free year to lead this program without repercussion. He was correct when he stated that a ninth year coach doesn't deserve that sort of leniency.
Part of this mess was dealt to him, part of it, he created...but all of it has to be cleaned up.