To start this off, this entire entry will be deep from the heart and soul and will be a reach out to Boiler Nation to keep STRONG, keep FAITH, and more importantly keep HOPE a live for the rest of the season.
There is no doubt, losing Hummel is devastating news and a player we just can not replace. What he does for this team extends from leadership, sharp shooting, rebounding, defense, and one of our few low post presences. There is nothing I can say negative about Hummel, who is a true testament for the Boiler program. His season has come to a close early, but I guarantee he will come back next year even more focused and ticked off with the way his season was unfairly ended. I know Hummel well enough to know this injury is killing him worse then any one will ever know, as he is having the thoughts of letting his friends/teammates and coach down. He has done nothing to let any one done; this was something completely out of his or any ones control. However, I promise you he will be there each and every game cheering, coaching, inspiring the rest of the Boilers as they take the court to try and finish this epic season and its lofty yet reachable goals.
All the nay-sayers and pessimists will point to this and say that the Boilers season is done. I say they are wrong. One thing Purdue prides it self on is playing as a whole, as a team. No one player is more important then the next, the sum is truly greater then the parts. Keep in mind the reason the Boilers looked so out of whack when Hummel went down was because the game plan was clearly thrown out the window. There is absolutely no way to plan for an injury like this, and understandably it put the Boilers out of whack. However, after they finally settled down and gained focus they looked just as sharp as the possibly could be. This is speaking offensively, because defensively I haven’t seen Purdue place that much pressure on the ball as they did in the second half against Minnesota. Now, Painter has the chance to game plan for the offense to replace Hummel’s points and rhythm. For those who don’t realize this, that game planning is a vital part to the way a team like Purdue plays. Painter is one of the best in the business when it comes to planning for the next game, and I know he will have the best playbook possible for each opponent with who we have left. Now, here’s where people are starting to crack me up. Especially Gary Parrish who said that people will say this injury gives other players the chance to step up, but it is not going to happen. This is far from true, and I will tell you why. It can be simply put as Chris Kramer and Keaton Grant.
Everyone who isn’t a die hard Boiler tends to forget Kramer was our third wheel of offense before our current big 3 back when Carl Landry was playing, Grant and Kramer where key contributors and that was a team with less talent then our current squad, with or without Hummel. And guess what, Kramer and Grant still have what it takes. It’s not like they have forgotten how to step up and be leaders on the offense, they just simply haven’t had to do so. Grant has already been reborn this season after a horrendous start to run off three consecutive games with double digit scoring, and some mighty heroics at the end of the last dramatic win. And, Kramer is an offensive threat when he gets it in his mind to be one. So, Kramer if you read this then get your mind set to start scoring. This kid has a pretty stroke from down-town and will have to start making the zone and lagging defenders pay from there. His ability to drive to the basket is also going to be key, and with his muscle this will be no problem. Mighty Mouse, also known as Lewis Jackson has to start knocking down some shots and gaining confidence. We all know jump shots aren’t his greatest strength, but this is certainly the time for him to gain the confidence to take some of these shots. And, not to sound cliché but this is the time for Hart, Barlow, and Bade to grow up and play with more of an experienced mind set, as mistakes will be more critical then ever now.
Please, I beg you; please don’t forget we still have 2 awesome star players left in Jujaun Johnson and Etwaun Moore. Let’s remember something, the talk even before this last game was both of these studs would be on the Big Ten all first conference team. Moore is still our leading scorer and assists man. And, JJ is well, JJ. I mean we see what happens if he takes a game or two off, so he has to continue to play at his normal level. What more can really be said about these two players. This still gives us at least one more star then most teams have, and for some it still gives us two.
I will admit Purdue isn’t the deepest of teams, especially in the big man department, but if Bade can mature and just give us solid minutes with sound defense and rebounding it will pay huge dividends. Now, like most Boilers Bade has yet to impress me; however, he has just looked to eager to something special when he is on the floor. In other words, when he gets a few spare minutes he looks like he is trying to prove how good he is by forcing everything. He needs to let the game come to him, relax and just stay in rhythm with game. Most importantly remember to stay in control even when trying to out hustle the opponent, and not to give away obvious fouls. I think he can honestly do this, and I hope Boiler fans will fuel his growth at Mackey this weekend.
I know there are those who probably disagree with what I have said, and I’m sure there are even more who think I’m crazy for saying Purdue still has a great shot at a National Title. This is fine; I know it is hard if not impossible to keep a positive outlook when things are going horribly wrong and seemly crashing down around you, BUT this is when Boiler Nation has to come together…. Become ONE; truly be that sixth man for our Boilers on the court! Keep STRONG, keep FAITH, and most importantly keep HOPE for this team and be positive great things are going to happen.
Boiler-Up!!!!! And, I will be going to my first Purdue game of the season come round 2 of the Big Ten tournament, dressed in all black and holding up 4 fingers for Hummel.
P.S. Because I want to inspire Hope I will be changing my avatar for the first time since I can remember with a creation of my own, hope you like it.