There's no doubt that Robbie Hummel's injury couldn't have come at a worse time in the season.
It's difficult to not have a pessimistic outlook considering what Robbie Hummel has meant to this year's team.
We can fully expect that the entire world will write off the rest of Purdue's season. We'll hear pundits down-grading their rankings, seeds, and overall expectations, and many fellow Purdue fans will claim they are realists while they predict a sweet 16 exit.
Season over, right?
Let's not forget who this team is.
This is one of toughest teams in the nation, and the core of this team has dealt with non-stop adversity for the past two season.
This is a team that has dealt with the loss of key players players before, (including Hummel) and has learned how to fill gaps when necessary. JaJuan Johnson's emergence came as a direct result from Hummel's injury. Also, don't forget that Purdue's 14-0 run came without last year's starting point guard! The only consitency Purdue has had is being able to handle the changes.
This is a team that fell 16 points behind in Tuscaloosa Alabama but remained calm cool and collected as they fought their way back to one of the most exciting wins in Boilermaker history. They didn't let the Mark Ingram drunk atmosphere get in their heads.
This is a talented team. This is a team with two of the best players in the Big Ten (Smooge and JJ), the best defender in the league (Chris Kramer),the best PG-by-committee in the Big Ten(Lewjack and Barlow), the best player not included in the official game book in the nation (John Hart), and a player is is coming out of his shell with the potential of being the best 6th man in the nation (KG).
There's also potential for a surprise. Possibly
Most teams in the league would take that lineup in a heartbeat.
Collectively, Purdue has the talent to fill the void. Clearly the team is missing an important element, but I trust Matt Painter to make the necessary adjustments.
He's done it before...
This is the opportunity to test the leadership of seniors Chris Kramer and Keaton Grant. They sure as hell aren't going to throw in the towel anytime soon.
We've seen KG come alive before our eyes, and now the timing of his awakening seems poetic! Likewise, Chris Kramer has shaken a mid-season slump and is playing some of the best defense since the beginning of the season. We've seen what he's capable of doing when he needs to rally the team.
Their task of keeping the team focused and high spirited is not an easy one. But I can't think there's more capable senior class that can handle the responsibility.
Every team responds to adversity differently, and last night's finish in Minnesota was a sneak preview of the sheer will and perseverance that this team has. This is the reason that Matt Painter places such a heavy emphasis on character. And I have never had the respect for a Purdue team's character as I do for this team.
I'm not saying that all the pundits writing Purdue off are unjustified.
I just don't think they've done their homework :)