Matt Painter is no apparent rush to fill coaching staff
The position vacated by Micah Shrewsberry on Matt Painter's staff has been open for weeks and remains so.
But the position opened by Steve Lutz was vacant for a matter of days before it was filled, by the return of former Purdue assistant coach Paul Lusk.
"I knew I was going to try to hire Paul Lusk if Steve got a job," Painter said, "so when he did that was already in the works that I was going to offer him the position. I didn't know where he stood on it, but that was my plan."
Shrewsberry is now the head coach at Penn State and Lutz at Texas A&M-Corpus Christi.
The path to hiring both replacements have been very different.
The Lusk hire was probably years in the making, and predictably materialized, bringing the veteran coach back to Purdue to oversee the Boilermaker defense, following stints as Missouri State's head coach and an assistant to Greg McDermott at Creighton.
"He's hard-working, loyal and a good basketball mind," said Painter, who first hired Lusk at Southern Illinois, then brought him to Purdue for the year he spent as Gene Keady's associate head coach. "I think his experience as a head coach and also being in the Big East, I think those will help. Creighton played a very high-octane sort of offense and were very good at it, but they made great strides defensively under Paul. ... He's very familiar with how we do things, but (at Creighton) they didn't do things exactly the way we do things at Purdue, and I like that.
"I like the challenge of listening to somebody else, like why you should do certain things differently, whether that's doubling the post, ball-screen defense, things like that. It allows you to constructively work through things. I normally get back to what I did before anyways, but it's a great exercise.
"We'll be able to hit the ground running with somebody that I'm familiar with. ... He brings a wealth of experience and knowledge that will help our program and I think our guys will really like him."
Regarding the other position, Painter has taken his time. He's considered candidates from all levels and says he's looked at coaches with wide ranges of experience, all the way up to "unbelievable" experience.
Shrewsberry called Purdue's plays on offense and worked with the Boilermakers' guards.
"I'm never going to go out and look for somebody who helps us from an offensive standpoint and then that's the only criteria," Painter said. "I handcuff myself, but I think being patient and trying to find the right guy is more important than getting the right guy from a schematic standpoint. But I am looking for both."
In recent years, Painter's shifted to a coordinator model on his staff, a relatively uncommon set-up in college basketball. Offensively, this happened under former assistant coach Greg Gary after he'd been on staff several seasons, something the two coaches "grew into," Painter said. When Gary left to become head coach at Mercer and Shrewsberry re-joined the staff, there was considerable camaraderie and trust between him and Painter, since the two had worked together before and have long been close associates and friends.
Painter was heavily involved, of course, in the crafting of the playbook and game-to-game preparation, but on game days, Gary and Shrewsberry called the plays, in part to address inefficiencies and to allow Painter to focus on more big-picture matters.
Whether this new hire will immediately take over Purdue's offensive reins — Lusk will do so with the defense — remains to be seen.
"It depends on who I get," Painter said.
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