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November 14, 2012
It's not often Matt Painter allows parts of his job - whether they be good or bad - affect him personally.
But when he sets foot in New York City's Madison Square Garden this week, it'll get to him.
"It makes you pinch yourself that you're actually able to go play there or coach there," Painter said as his team prepared to play Villanova at 9 p.m. tonight as part of the 2K Sports Classic. "I always talk about being the head coach at Purdue and that being something I never take for granted. I'm very, very fortunate to be in this position and I never take that lightly. But to be able to walk in and coach Purdue University in Madison Square Garden is a dream come true and it's something we relay and explain to all players, all the history that goes into playing in the Mecca of college basketball."
But Purdue and its young roster has to be all about business in MSG, starting with 'Nova, a Big EAST foe who'll be playing just a couple hours from its Philadelphia campus in an arena it knows well. Madison Square Garden hosts the Big EAST Tournament.
So the Boilermakers will have their work cut out for them, but the Wildcats are in much the same position Purdue is, Coach Jay Wright said.
"We're similar to Purdue," Wright said, "in that we have a lot of young players and a lot of returning players taking on new roles."
One of those new players is impressive freshman point guard Ryan Arcidiacono (pronounced ARCH-EE-dee-ack-oh-no). He's coming off a 25-point game against Marshall. He and Purdue freshman Ronnie Johnson will engage Thursday night in a battle of talented, but under-experienced, point guards.
And all that the Boilermaker size that's been talked about so much leading into this size will be matched by Villanova's big, and mobile, front line.
Purdue hopes the return of top returning scorer Terone Johnson will help. After turning his ankle last week in practice, the junior missed Purdue's season-opening loss to Bucknell, a game in which Painter admitted it missed the guard as it "shot itself into a loss," by taking poor shots in a close game.
Terone Johnson played 17 minutes against Hofstra in Game 2.
"It didn't look like he was 100-percent to me," Painter said Wednesday from New York, "but then we held him out of practice on Monday, and he practiced (Tuesday) when we got here at St. John's. I don't know if he'll go full-tilt (Wednesday) just because we have back-to-back games Thursday-Friday, but I expect him to play. He looked really good (Tuesday) in practice."
G: Ronnie Johnson
G: Terone Johnson
F: D.J. Byrd
F: Donnie Hale
C: Sandi Marcius
F: JayVaughn Pinkston
C: Mouphtaou Yarou
G: Darrun Hilliard
G: James Bell
G: Ryan Arcidiacono
About Purdue: Roster | Schedule | Statistics (2011-12)
About Villanova: Roster | Schedule | Statistics (2011-12)
Game time: 9:30 p.m.
Radio: Purdue Sports Network (95.7 FM locally)
Internet: GoldandBlack.com subscribers can follow along live with our in-game blog, "Game Day Live."
Note: Purdue will play again Friday against either Oregon State or Alabama at either 5:30 or 7:30 p.m.
Five things to think about
1. Does Terone Johnson automatically move back into the starting lineup, giving Purdue its third different starting five in as many games?
"I don't know. I don't think it's that big a deal. To me it's neither here nor there. He might start, he might not," Painter said. "What's good is you have other guys you feel you can start. It's not one of those situations where, 'If he can go, he absolutely has to start.' It speaks toward how you feel about the other guys. I feel good about those other guys.
"Every single one of those guys, including Dru Anthrop, in the backcourt have had spots where they've played like a starter. I don't know if anyone's consistently played like a starter but everyone's had either a game or part of a game where they have. We just have to get some consistency and get some things figured out. Sometimes you stumble onto what to works for your team. I try my best not to out-think that. Just try to reward the guys who play hard but also think of, when you sub, who's going to be in there together. That's where I get into trouble sometimes as a coach. It's not who I start, but when I sub and who's playing together. A lot of times that's not as important as starting, but it's really close, because those can be some key parts of the game."
2. In a season full of firsts for Purdue's youngsters, does the mystique of MSG and a high-profile East Coast opponent affect it?
3. How will Purdue's big men fare against equivalent - and maybe more athletic - size?
4. The Boilermakers have always made harassment of opposing ball-handlers a hallmark of their defensive approach. Does it affect Villanova's rookie point guard?
5. What impact does Terone Johnson's return to a more prominent role have? He obviously provides scoring punch but also another veteran presence.
GoldandBlack.com Prediction: Purdue's done some very good things through two games this season and it's done it with maybe its most important player playing only a limited role.
With that said, this Villanova front line will put Purdue's to the test and the Boilermakers must avoid things like turnovers and missed free throws in bulk.
Purdue's got a chance to be pretty good this season. Just not sure where it is right now.
Purdue 72, Villanova 68
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