This past season, Purdue finished with more losses than wins—a tremendous disappointment for a program which has enjoyed great success in recent years. When meeting with his players, Painter's message was poignant.
"The main thing for us is having each individual guy taking a hard look at himself and working in a constructive manner to get better," said Painter, speaking on a teleconference with the media.
Purdue lost three players to transfer at season's end, and currently have 10 players on scholarship. There will be plenty of minutes available, but they must be earned in the offseason.
With each meeting, Painter spoke of how playing time must be won with hard work. He didn't hold anything back.
"That's what we tried to do with the guys," said Painter, "is be brutally honest, and try to help them get on the court and get major minutes."
Toward the end of Purdue's dismal season, Painter's frustration was becoming increasingly evident. Each postgame press conference was centered on his players' work ethic and will to improve. He didn't make it a distraction, but the straightforward coach made his feelings known.
Painter's hope is that his players form a mindset built around improvement.
"We need to see a difference in maturity," he said. "We need guys growing up and being more accountable as basketball players on a daily basis."
Much of the response has been positive. Key returners like Terone Johnson and Rapheal Davis have become regulars in the weight room. Painter senses urgency throughout much of the locker room, but it's not universal and that has him feeling discouraged.
"I just want them to register on the give-a-damn meter," Painter said.
One of Painter's greatest projects this offseason is with freshman center A.J. Hammons, a player with NBA potential who was inconsistent during his first season on campus. His sporadic numbers are indicative of his varied intensity level each game. Hammons remains committed to the program, but must work toward improvements.
"Once he can get some consistency in that area, the sky's the limit for him," added Painter. "I think he can be a very productive player. Until that, it's very hit or miss for him. If he can be consistent, he's going to have a great career."
A critical offseason has begun for Purdue. From Painter's perspective, all he can do is hope his message resonates with each player.
"Purdue is a blue collar place," he said. "We've got to outwork people."