It's not quite on par with "Robbie Hummel is out for the season," but Purdue's latest injury news isn't exactly thrilling, either.
Guard John Hart, who had emerged as the Boilermakers' leading scorer among players not named E'Twaun Moore and JaJuan Johnson, will miss at least a month with a stress fracture in his right foot, according to the AP. Hart will have surgery this week and attempt to get healthy in time to return for the spring semester and the Big Ten season and tournament pushes that come along with it.
Is this injury a big deal? Not compared to Hummel's, of course. But for the time being, it is wholly discouraging. Purdue has struggled any time it's played against a remotely capable defense, and those offensive issues are not likely to be resolved with an emerging third scorer losing a month with a stress fracture. Toss in guard D.J. Byrd's shoulder injury, which limited him to two minutes in Purdue's win against Alabama on Saturday, and you've got a recipe for more stagnant play.
Looking at the schedule, though, it's not hard to see why Hart and his school chose to operate now. The Boilermakers' last four nonconference games in December are at Valparaiso, vs. North Florida, vs. Indiana State, and vs. IPFW. Purdue's first Big Ten game comes Dec. 28 at Michigan. That's not the most daunting stretch of all-time, and you'd imagine these Boilermakers handling it just fine with or without Hart in the lineup.
When he returns? Then we'll see. In the meantime, Purdue is going to have to find some supplementary offense somewhere. Hart's injury is undoubtedly a setback, even if it's a well-timed one.