Painter tries to find the right spot for Purdue's six freshman

WEST LAFAYETTE - It's rare in which he calls a huddle on the sidelines of the players on the floor and doesn't see a new face.

At least three of his freshman are off-and-on starters, while two others see significant playing time.

Its another youth movement for Matt Painter in West Lafayette, with six freshman suiting up for Purdue during the 2012-2013 seasons. 

Not that is terribly new for Painter, who is having to train a half dozen players on his roster for the third time in his eight years at Purdue.

"Make things teaching moments," said Painter when asked about transitioning freshman-and he's already had a few this season.

Tuesday was a good night as Purdue made quick work of Lamar 72-39. Saturday against Xavier was a little different as the Boilermakers missed all 17 three-point attempts. Its part of a young team's journey to try to find themselves before a rigorous Big Ten season begins.

"You have to stay with it," said Painter. "I like our talent, I don't like our discipline, I don't like our inexperience, but I do like our young guys."

The three that are seeing the most playing time are true freshman center A.J. Hammonds and guard Ronnie Johnson along with redshirt forward Donnie Hale. Each have popped in-and-out of the starting lineup in the first eight games.

Off the bench a number of times are guards Rapheal Davis and Jay Simpson, while Stephen Toyra has appeared in three games so far.

"Taking better care of the ball, making more crisp passes," said Johnson of some of the early adjustments he's made to the college game. "You can't get away with a lot of the stuff you can get away with in high school.

"You've got jump starters, people setting charges, stuff like that."

Johnson currently leads the team in assists with 24 while Hammonds leads the freshman in points (9.7 per game) and rebounds (5.9). The key for Painter, however, is to make sure that each freshman is played the correct amount of time at the right time in order to build skill and confidence.

"I have to do a better job as a coach of defining their roles," said Painter of the freshmen. "I've always let guys to continue to play through things when I know they have the ability to do stuff but after a while you have to lock them down a little bit and not let them do certain things until the get a little more confidence and a little bit more success.

Of course certain games allow Painter more leeway to get his players experience. Lamar could offer more of that chance than, say, a Xavier since the game was out of hand. Like the players progress, being able to do so is a week-to-week process.

"For a couple of them who don't play much I'd like to play them a little more. Its hard," said Painter. "You get against a good team like Xavier that's well coached an they run a lot of different stuff, being able to understand what they're doing every time and stick with what we're trying to do, it gets to be a little bit too much.

"I'd like to play them more because there is no way somebody stays more confident when they don't play a whole lot and that's tough because we have some quality players."

A lot of them who happen to be pretty young.





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