Purdue offense inept without Hummel
Purdue's offense is in disarray without Robbie Hummel, and the Boilermakers have run out of time to get it figured out.
Hummel tore the ACL in his right knee on Feb. 24, and 10th-ranked Purdue hasn't been the same since. With him, the Boilermakers were 24-3, averaged 73 points per game and shot 46 percent from the field. Without him, they are 3-2, average 59 points per game and shoot 38 percent from the field.
Purdue (27-5) plans to improve those numbers against Siena (27-6) in the first round of the NCAA tournament Friday in Spokane, Wash.
Coach Matt Painter acknowledges that Purdue is much different without Hummel, the team's No. 2 scorer and rebounder and primary offensive facilitator. The junior forward averaged 15.7 points and 6.9 rebounds per game.
``Take Demetri McCamey off Illinois' team, do you think they would be more confident?'' Painter said. ``Rob makes plays, and Rob makes shots. You have to learn to score different ways.''
Purdue hasn't done that consistently. The Boilermakers scored a season-low 42 points in a Big Ten tournament loss to Minnesota, and their 11-point first half produced the fewest points in a half since the school began keeping records in 1950.
Painter said after the loss to the Golden Gophers that he doesn't expect his offense to struggle like that often.
``The ball is going to go in for us a lot better than it did tonight, and it is one of these games you have to learn from,'' he said. ``Hopefully, it doesn't happen again.''
Purdue also has rebounded poorly since Hummel went down, getting outworked 46-20 against Michigan State and 50-26 against Minnesota.
The Boilermakers want to remember the emotions they had following the Minnesota game.
``We've got to move forward from this,'' guard Chris Kramer said. ``Keep this in the back of our minds, remember how this felt, that solid taste in our mouths, and use that as motivation in practice and try to flip everything that Minnesota did against us and put it on somebody else.''
The players aren't concerned that most of the national media is looking past their team after having considered the Boilermakers a strong Final Four contender with a healthy Hummel.
``Everyone is doubting us,'' Kramer said. ``The only people that really believe in our team are the people in our locker room. We've just got to come together and have a big-time effort every time we step on the court from here on now because at this point in the season it's win or go home.''
Though the Boilermakers have struggled to score, they still feel they can succeed in the NCAA tournament. Their defense has remained solid, allowing 59.6 points in five games without Hummel.
``In our last game, we didn't do anything real well,'' Painter said. ``We struggled in all facets of the game. But defensively we can still be a very good team.''
With Hummel out, E'Twaun Moore and center JaJuan Johnson have been asked to and score more, with mixed results. They combined to shoot 7 for 27 in a loss to Michigan State on Feb. 28. In the Big Ten tournament opener, Moore tied a career high with 28 points, and Johnson scored 22 in a 69-61 win over Northwestern. In the quarterfinals loss to Minnesota, Johnson had 17 points, but Moore scored two points on 1-for-14 shooting.
``E'Twaun Moore and JaJuan Johnson have to be patient,'' Painter said. ``The other guys have to take their shots, they have to take open shots and shots they can make and you have to have balance.''
Purdue's offensive struggles were the reason the Boilermakers fell to a No. 4 seed. NCAA selection committee chairman Dan Guerrero said Purdue wasn't the same team without Hummel, and it affected its placement.
The Boilermakers have been answering Final Four questions all season because it will be played at Lucas Oil Stadium, 65 miles from their West Lafayette, Ind., campus. Those questions are a distant memory, and the players now are focused on short-term goals.
``I think we're just hungry and eager to play a game,'' Moore said. ``I think our approach to this game should be excited and be happy to play in the tournament.''
Moore expects Purdue to be ready on Friday.
``We'll bounce back probably,'' Moore said. ``If we just stay together and stay together we'll be fine. It's just how you respond to it is the big thing.''