BLOOMINGTON, Ind. — Since the basketball season was abruptly cut short in mid-March, Purdue coach Matt Painter has seen two of most experienced players leave the program.
Matt Haarms and Nojel Eastern, both of whom have played more than 100 games at Purdue and never once lost to Indiana in their three years, have departed from West Lafayette. Haarms, who graduated last month, eventually chose to play at BYU, where, as a graduate transfer, he is eligible to play immediately.
Related: Tom Brew column
- OPINION: What's wrong at Purdue, you ask? Sports Illustrated Indiana columnist Tom Brew says absolutely nothing. CLICK HERE
Eastern, the 6-foot-7 point guard, entered the transfer portal on Tuesday, informing Painter of his decision "even though he had never once brought it up before,'' Painter said Wednesday on Dan Dakich's radio show on 1070 the Fan in Indianapolis. Painter was tremendous and as open as a coach can be, ripping both players for their work ethics while at Purdue and making poor decisions to chase better basketball dreams elsewhere.
"I love those guys, and I mean that about both of those guys,'' Painter said. "But when it's obviously not better for you academically or basketball-wise, I feel for them. Matt was going to do that, but he also got his degree from Purdue. Jelly is walking out of here without his degree. That's not smart, but I'm really biased.
"Still, you might have gotten your degree from Purdue, but you're not a Boilermaker if you walk out the door in the end.''
Painter, who graduated from Purdue himself and played on some great Boilermakers teams in the early 1990s for Gene Keady, said their decisions had a lot to do about competition. The guys who are leaving, he said, weren't ready to work enough to get better to earn playing time.
"Matt Haarms is a good guy. Nojel Eastern is a good guy. They want something else out there, and it's not magical. Sometimes it's effort and results. I don't doubt their effort, but you've got to have results. If you can't, I feel you. Embrace problems and embrace adversity and fight it. Don't run from it."
"I wasn't better than a lot of guards that I had to play against, but I didn't run around blaming Gene Keady because I couldn't guard Calbert Cheaney and Jim Jackson. I didn't run all over Muncie (Painter's hometown) telling people that Coach Keady couldn't coach.''