Friday, February 26, 2010
Afternoon Linkage: Reacting to Robbie
By Eamonn Brennan
A day after the Robbie Hummel injury, college basketball is still fixated on Purdue. A weak Thursday night slate probably didn't help much. So let's do a Hummel-heavy link dump and get it all out of our system before tomorrow blows our collective minds. (Not to mention tonight; for what it's worth I'll be at Valpo-Butler this evening, so stick around and hang out, if you're not doing anything. What, like you've got better things to do on a Friday night? Pshh.)
The first and most common question about Hummel and Purdue: How will the injury affect Purdue's tournament seed? Andy Katz looked at that aspect yesterday, arguing that if "the Boilermakers keep winning without Hummel, then why wouldn't Purdue get judged on its overall body of work? What if Purdue coach Matt Painter does a fantastic job adjusting without Hummel, like he did in a road win at Minnesota after Hummel left the game in the first half?" This seems fair, and it's up to Purdue now. If they can prove they're still an elite team with Keaton Grant starting in place of Hummel, then the committee should treat them accordingly, yes?
Meanwhile, Matt Painter addressed the media today, remaining upbeat (though, really, what is he going to say -- "We're screwed?") but called the Hummel injury "an unbelievable challenge": "From a coaching standpoint, this happens, whether it’s injuries or foul trouble,” Painter said. “Things happen and you have to be able to deal with adversity. It’s an unbelievable challenge for our team to deal with this adversity to make improvements and get stronger. The thing last year, for us, that was different with Rob’s injury … was the fact that we didn’t know if he was going to play or not going into games. Knowing how to prepare with him and how to prepare without him are two very different things."
Rush The Court has an interesting little ditty about what to watch for as a home viewer when a player injures his knee. It has a description of the quick tests the doctors perform, that sort of thing. Learn something new every day, right?
Purdue's next game vs. Michigan State couldn't come at a worse time for the Boilers, obviously, but Tom Izzo is right about one thing: Even without Hummel, Purdue is still a very good team. Not to mention Michigan State now has to adjust its preparation, which had focused on stopping Hummel, for a different, Grant-heavy rotation.
And Jeff Eisenberg has this quick breakdown of the No. 1-seed ramifications, provided Purdue slips in its remaining regular season or Big Ten Tournament games: "Any slippage from Purdue would probably make Duke the odds-on favorite to grab the final No. 1 seed despite its utter lack of marquee victories. The Devils (23-4) have the strongest computer profile and the most trouble-free remaining schedule, though Villanova could overtake them by beating Syracuse on Saturday and Kansas State could make its case by toppling Kansas next week."
Nor was Isiah Thomas, who received two technicals while trying to change the "perception of his team": "I will fight for my team," Thomas said. "I think the perception of our team right now is hurting us. In the last six games, we've lost by four points or less. . . . The perception of our team going into tournament play I hope will be different than what it's been in the first half of the season, and I hope we can change that perception." OK then.