Thursday, February 25, 2010

With Robbie Hummel out, Purdue is going to need Keaton Grant to step up

With one ill-fated jumpstop, Purdue's season may have come to a crashing halt.

Robbie Hummel had seemingly snapped out of a three-game shooting slump last night against Minnesota, scoring 11 points as Purdue jumped out to a 26-14 lead on Minnesota on the road. But with 7:11 left in the first half, Hummel's knee gave out as he sliced through the lane. The junior forward immediately went to the ground, grabbing his knee. He did not put any pressure on it as he was helped off the court.

Anyone that saw the play thought the same thing: something's torn.

Hummel will be getting an MRI on Thursday to determine the full extent of the injury, and while Purdue and their fans are holding out hope, most people are expecting the worst.

Robbie Hummel was helped off the court last night after injuring his knee.
(photo credit: Chicago Tribune)

It goes without saying that this injury is devastating to Purdue's Final Four chances.

Hummel isn't an all-american candidate. He's not going to be winning any player of the year awards. He isn't even Purdue's leading scorer. But he is an extremely valuable piece to the Purdue puzzle. Purdue is not a deep team by any stretch of the imagination. With Hummel in the lineup they, at times, have had trouble scoring and rebounding the ball. What happens if they lose his 15.8 ppg and 7.2 rpg?

Its more than just the stats. Hummel is an unselfish leader and a steadying influence for Purdue. There aren't many 6'8" players in the country that can defend and rebound like a four, but are blessed with the offensive skill set of a two-guard. Hummel's versatility and ability to shoot at the four spot helps to open up the paint, allowing JaJuan Johnson, E'Twuan Moore, and company to execute inside.

There's no denying he is a crucial component for Matt Painter's club.

Assuming Hummel is out for the year, this puts the Boilermakers in a very tough spot.

A No. 1 seed in the tournament was their's to lose. A lot of folks are going to bring up the Kenyon Martin injury back in 2000, an injury that dropped Cincinnati to a No. 2 seed that season. That was different. Martin was injured during the C-USA Tournament, a game Cincinnati lost. The Bearcats never had a chance to prove what kind of team they were without him.

Purdue gets that chance.

And if they are going to retain that No. 1 seed, the guy that is going to have to step up is Keaton Grant. Grant, who is a year older than Purdue's big three, averaged 11.2 ppg as a sophomore, when Hummel and co. were freshmen.

But this season he's having his least-productive year since he was a freshman as he deals with inconsistent minutes. That doesn't mean the talent is gone, however. He's reached double figures the last three games. Against Minnesota, he made three huge jumpers down the stretch, including an 18 footer with eight seconds left that turned out to be the game-winner.

Regardless of how well Grant plays, the one thing we can be certain of is that Purdue's road to the Final Four just got a whole heck of a lot bumpier.

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