Matt Painter gave a perfect response to a polarizing topic after Purdue’s dominant victory over Utah State to reach the Sweet 16.

That topic centered around Zach Edey, the dominant big man for the Boilermakers who is on quite the run to begin the NCAA Tournament. However, Edey is not without his critics, including a following of basketball fans who claim Edey is just bigger than everyone else.

A reporter on Sunday referenced that idea and asked Painter what he would say to individuals who claim Edey is “just tall.” Painter was quick with a drastic measure for those analysts discussing Edey’s size.

“They just shouldn’t cover basketball,” claimed Painter.

“You go to school and you learn things or whatever, but we all don’t like every class we’re in, right? It’s kind of a necessary evil… You have to be able to deal with certain things that are difficult.”

Whether or not he was joking is up for debate, but Painter was deadpan in advocating for people to take tests and quiz about their knowledge on what they are doing.

“All journalists should have to take a basketball quiz or a test, or anybody who tweets if they say something as moronic as that they should have a probationary status where they can’t tweet for 3 months,” Painter explained. “I think it would help society. Just try to knock out the fools.”

In the game against the Aggies, Edey delivered another dominant double-double to lead Purdue to the Sweet 16. Fans can track Purdue’s latest odds moving forward with Tradition’s Ohio betting apps.

Why Painter is right, and what it means for Edey

Painter is definitely right about one thing: Anyone judging Edey solely on his 7-foot-4 and 285-pound frame doesn’t know basketball. Or, at the very least, they haven’t been paying attention to the Boilermakers during Edey’s career.

As a true freshman, Edey illustrated his talent but plenty of areas to improve in. Mainly, his endurance and stamina as Edey averaged just 14.7 minutes per game while coming off the bench behind Trevion Williams. Edey’s fitness was still a problem as a sophomore as he made 37 appearances (33 starts) but played just 19 minutes per game.

The past two seasons, playing time has not been an issue for Edey. He has averaged over 31 minutes per game since the start of the 2022-23 season, and his effectiveness skyrocketed as a result.

This season, Edey set a career-high mark in scoring while averaging 24.6 points to go with 12 rebounds, 2.1 assists and 2.2 blocks. No matter how you slice it, no one in college basketball can average 20 points just by being tall. His ability to stay on the court also speaks to Edey’s hard work to improve his physique and fitness in West Lafayette.

And anyone questioning Edey’s skill need only look at his free-throw shooting where the big man shoots over 70% for his career. Any number of other talented big men have struggled with their touch from the free-throw line, but opposing teams cannot simply employ a “hack-a-Shaq” method to try and slow down Edey.

Now, for the NCAA Tournament, Edey is putting his dominance on display, and anyone who believes he is just a tall man needs to revisit the history of one of the best all-time big men in the sport.

In a graphic compiled by CBS Sports, Edey has 53 points and 35 rebounds while shooting 67.9% from the field in 2 tournament games. He also has 6 blocks if you are interested in that sort of thing.

The last player to put together those kinds of numbers was UCLA’s Lew Alcindor (Kareem Abdul-Jabbar) in 1968. The 7-foot-2 big man would help revolutionize the big man position in the NBA and was the all-time leading scorer for years after his retirement.

Edey’s big, and his size is important, but Painter is correct. Anyone trying to diminish Edey’s work ethic, talent and improvement throughout his career really does not know basketball.