No. 3 Purdue's hopes high despite Hummel injury

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Coach Matt Painter knows some people believe that losing forward Robbie Hummel for the season has ended No. 3 Purdue's chances of reaching its lofty goals.

Painter is not some people.

Rather than dwell on the loss of Hummel's 16 points and 7 rebounds per game or his countless intangible qualities, Painter is focused on what remains.

Center JaJuan Johnson was an all-Big Ten player last season, and he's performing at a similar level this year. Guard E'Twaun Moore averages 17 points per game and is a two-time all-conference second-team pick. Senior guard Chris Kramer is a former Big Ten defensive player of the year, and senior Keaton Grant has been hot the last three games.

"A lot of people will dwell on what you lose, but you have to be consumed with what you have," Painter said Friday. "I really like what we have."

What still has is opportunity.

The Boilermakers (24-3, 12-3 Big Ten) are on a 10-game win streak, lead the conference and are enjoying their highest national ranking since 1994. They head into Sunday's showdown with No. 14 Michigan State (21-7, 11-4) with a chance to strengthen their chances of winning the Big Ten.

While Painter feels for Hummel, he has to look forward.

"What is in front of us is a game against Michigan State," Painter said. "That's all we're worried about. Even if we had Rob, that's all we'd be thinking about."

Illinois coach Bruce Weber said the Boilermakers still are a dangerous team.

"They can still win the Big Ten championship," he said. "It's definitely within reach, and that's what he's (Painter) got to focus on right now."

Hummel tore the ACL in his right knee during Purdue's 59-58 win over Minnesota on Wednesday. Hummel drove to the lane and felt his right leg give slightly as he tried to plant with 7:11 left in the first half.

Painter said Hummel will have surgery when the swelling in the knee goes down and the range of motion improves. He said Hummel will remain instrumental in the program, acting like a coach and demonstrating leadership.

Hummel missed several games last season with a broken bone in his lower back before returning to help the Boilermakers reach the Sweet 16.

"Injuries are a part of the game," Painter said. "You feel for Rob because he worked so hard last season to overcome his back injury. From a coaching standpoint, these things happen, and you have to be able to deal with adversity."

Minnesota coach Tubby Smith called Hummel Purdue's best player. Weber said the injury is bad for Purdue and the entire conference.

"He was Mr. Everything," Weber said. "I just feel bad really for the kid, because he's such a good kid, and then for Purdue."

Grant likely will move into the starting lineup. He struggled at times early this season, but has averaged 12.6 points the past three games and made the game-winning jumper against Minnesota.

"Keaton Grant has played like an all-conference guy the past three games," Painter said. "He has a look, like he's ready to play the game. He's playing like a senior."

Painter said the Boilermakers likely will be more patient in looking for shots because their skill level drops without Hummel. He said the team will play quite a bit of "small ball" and rely on their quickness.

Painter expects his team to rally behind the challenge. The Boilermakers fell behind Minnesota before coming back to win, offering an example of what Painter feels the team still can do.

"The best thing we can do for Rob is continue on, push on and play hard," Painter said.


Associated Press writer David Mercer in Champaign, Ill., contributed to this report.