Credit - IU Athletics

Archie Miller and Matt Painter take different approaches in their public remarks on transferring players

Purdue head coach Matt Painter made headlines a couple weeks ago when he delivered some pointed remarks at two players that decided to leave his program.

“You might’ve got your degree from Purdue, but you’re not a Boilermaker if you walk out the door at the end and say, ‘Hey, I want to make the league,’” Painter said.

Painter drew both praise and criticism for those and other comments directed at transferring players Nojel Eastern and Matt Haarms on the Dan Dakich Show.

Indiana also had two players enter the NCAA’s transfer portal recently, and Archie Miller commented publicly this week for the first time on Damezi Anderson and Justin Smith opting to play elsewhere next season.

Here is what Miller said on a podcast published by IU on Friday —

On Anderson:

“Damezi and I had conversations at the end of the season.  Damezi was genuinely doing really well at IU, and was having a great experience.  I think his time with us was really beneficial.  He grew up a lot, love him to death, but he wanted a basketball change, wanted more opportunity, and at times with what is going to be in front of you with this group, is an entire roster coming back, so we supported him.  He’s off and running to Loyola Chicago and that’s a great situation for him there and he’ll do well.”

On Smith:

“Justin decided to bypass his last year.  There is a lot that goes into a transfer, and people try to make it bigger than it is, or make it a negative, but Justin graduated from the Kelley School of Business in three years, he’s a terrific student, a great model citizen for us, played in every game, and led us in minutes this past year too, and really played a pivotal role in a lot of our big wins.  I was really sad to not be able to finish what we started with him going into his last year.”

Is Miller simply taking the high road?  There are no doubt plenty of views in each case that Miller didn’t share, especially with Smith, whose situation, at least on the surface, is similar to that of Haarms and Eastern.

It is important to note that Painter and Miller are in different stages of their careers.  The Purdue coach has been the head man in West Lafayette for 15 years and finds himself in a more comfortable long term position.

Miller, on the other hand, is entering a critical fourth season at IU.  From his perspective, there is no sense in stirring the pot at this point in his career.  Miller is trying to build chemistry and cohesion in his program, not create unwanted attention.  He found out in March how a seemingly playful remark about Joe Lunardi quickly became a national story.

It seems unlikely that Painter would have taken those parting shots at Haarms and Eastern if they were highly popular guys in the locker room.

Many found Painter’s honesty and candor refreshing.  In an era where cliche-laden “coach-speak” has become nauseating to listen to, for some it was good to hear him share some unfiltered views on the matter.

But at the same time, there was no doubt plenty that Painter didn’t say.  And interestingly enough, it has been reported that Purdue made contact with Smith after he entered the transfer portal.

When it comes to Miller, it is reasonable to expect that he might hold back.

Not only is Miller at a different stage in his career, but the facts of each transfer are always different.

Anderson was one of the most well liked guys on the team at IU, and Smith was close with returners such as Al Durham, a player who he arrived with in Bloomington in 2017.

Miller might earn his stripes at Indiana down the road and let loose from time to time.

But if he had more to say about Anderson and Smith, it is clear that Miller had no intentions of doing so publicly.

“You don’t fault guys for making decisions when they are unhappy or they’re not satisfied, Miller said.

“At the end of the day the thing you want to address before you get started again is that (unhappy or unsatisfied players).  Those two guys moving on, wish them well, nothing but the best, they did a great job with us, but I’m very excited about our group of guys coming back.”

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