The Score - Anthony Schoettle

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Purdue's slow-growth investments paying off big

October 20, 2009

Purdue basketball coach Matt Painter is no day-trader.

Instead, he prefers steady stock that takes time to mature. The payoff for Painter and the black and gold faithful is coming.

With a line-up heavy on experience (five of Painter’s pillar players are seniors or juniors) and light on so-called diaper dandies, Purdue’s basketball team is ranked in the top five in several national polls.

This morning, hoops guru Dick Vitale was singing the Boilers’ praises on ESPN. He has them ranked No. 5 and says they have a legitimate shot at reaching the Final Four, which will be played at Lucas Oil Stadium in April.

Purdue will have ample competition within the Big Ten. Vitale has Michigan State ranked No. 3.

It’s not to say Purdue won’t play any freshmen or sophomores. There are plenty of talented youngsters on this team, and Painter said any player—regardless of class—that gives Purdue the best chance to win, will play.

Painter recently told IBJ, it’s important to have a diversified portfolio, with equal emphasis on experience and maturity as well as raw talent and youthful exuberance.

At an IBJ Power Breakfast held earlier this month (see videos below), Painter explained that he simply isn’t in the position to attract many of the blue-chip players who plan to play one or maybe two years in college before departing to seek their fortunes in the National Basketball Association draft. Purdue is not the “sexy” choice among the one-and-done crowd, Painter added.

Even with Purdue’s lofty expectations, the school and its coach are often overshadowed by those with more pizzazz. While Michigan State coach Tom Izzo arrived for Midnight Madness opening practice Friday in an Indy Racing League car and Kentucky’s John Calapari’s entrance resembled Bono of U2, Painter was starting with a more low-key approach.

That’s just fine with the fifth-year Purdue coach. For Painter, it’s always been about substance over style. And it’s never been about looking for the quick payday. It’s about making a long-term investment in his players and about them making a long-term investment in the program.

Now, it appears, it’s time to collect the slow-growth, high-yield dividends.

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