Delta Grad Matt Painter Leading Boilers to Special Season

Purdue coach Matt Painter
Purdue head coach Matt Painter watches the action from the sidelines. (Photo provided by Purdue University)

By Jack Shafer

Eagle’s Eye Online

Purdue men’s basketball is heading toward becoming one of the few teams ever to go undefeated all year in the Big Ten Conference.  Doing this would guarantee them to go down as one of the most elite teams to go through the Big Ten.

Matt Painter, the head coach of the Purdue Boilermakers basketball team, is a Delta High School graduate. He graduated in 1986 as an Indiana All-Star basketball player.

“Matt was a very, very talented player,” said physical education teacher Sam Fields, an assistant coach to Stan Daugherty at the time.  “He started varsity sophomore year and never lost his spot.”

Painter moved on from high school to become an undergrad at Purdue University, where he also played four years of basketball there as a guard. His senior year he was named captain and All-Big Ten honorable mention.

After graduating from Purdue in 1993 he moved on to become an assistant coach for Washington and Jefferson College, Barton College, Eastern Illinois, and Southern Illinois. After one year as the head coach at Southern Illinois, he moved on to Purdue University in 2004. He has been the head coach of the Boilers since 2005.

This year’s team has been something special by going undefeated in conference (12-0 entering Wednesday night’s home game against Ohio State) and being ranked third in the nation.  No team has gone unbeaten in the Big Ten since Indiana went 18-0 in 1976 and won the national title with a perfect 32-0 record.

“This year’s team has had a great deal of experience with four seniors and they have played many games and won many games,” Painter said, “but also they have traveled the world with Purdue Basketball, and all these experiences make them very comfortable in close games.”

Painter said if students want to be successful, they have to be willing to put in the work.

“No matter how big your school is, you need to work hard to be successful,” he said. “Everyone needs to understand the value of education and the importance of getting good grades. In addition it is important to listen to adults in your life. That might be your parents or teachers, but they usually want you to succeed.”

As the Boilermakers head into March when the NCAA Tournament is held, Painter said they plan to work on their defense and rebounding to help them when they are having shooting struggles in a game.

By doing this Purdue hopes to bring home their first NCAA Tournament title.  The Boilers were named the national champs in 1932, but that was prior to the actual NCAA Tournament.