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December 16, 2008Keaton Grant's looking for answers the same as anyone else.
Following his breakout sophomore season, the Boilermaker co-captain and reigning Team MVP has struggled as a junior.
Grant's shooting just 32.4 percent overall. His three-point accuracy - 44 percent, one of the Big Ten's best, a year ago - has dropped to 30-and-a-half. He's averaging 7.6 points per game, down from 11-plus last season.
The past two games, he's come off the bench.
"I think it's a little mental," Grant said Tuesday, "that I'm thinking a little bit too much on the court. I need to eliminate that and concentrate and focus on my game."
One theory about Grant's struggles has been that he missed most of the off-season recovering from knee surgery and thus A) didn't get to work on his shooting in the summer and B) may have fallen way behind in his conditioning.
"Maybe, maybe not," Grant said. "I just have to get back in the gym, which is something I've been doing, getting some extra shooting in.
"I'm trying to get up as many shots as possible to try to get out of this slump."
As for his knee, Grant says he hasn't missed any practice whatsoever because of it.
"They're pretty good, they're maintaining," he said. "I feel it from time to time, but it's not even close to what it was last year. I feel 50 times better."
It hasn't yet shown on the court, however.
That said, Grant has had his moments. He made 3-of-5 threes against Loyola in the third game of the season; he buried back-to-back triples in the second half against Oklahoma, helping Purdue build the sizable lead that would ultimately slip away in an overtime loss.
But more often that not, Grant hasn't been the impact player he was a year ago.
Coach Matt Painter is confident Grant will come around, suggesting his fortunes could reverse in a hurry with a little success.
"He just has to step up and make a shot," Painter said. "Any time you make shots, it makes you feel better about yourself, and it makes you play better. If you're struggling, whether it's in baseball or shooting a basketball, you just have to work through it and feel better.
"But there's a lot more to do on the court than just shoot. You can do a lot of other things to help your team, but sometimes it's hard for guys who are missing shots they know they can make to do those other things. It lingers. He's going to have to have a game, or back-to-back games, where he shoots well to get him out of the slump."
Ever confident, Grant said he won't hesitate to try to do just that.
"I'll shoot an open shot or a last-second shot," Grant said. "It doesn't matter to me."
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