Category archive: Purdue Boilermakers
The two officials stepped back again, conferred and after another moment or two, called Bert Smith, the third official, to have a look. There was another conference before O'Connell finally made the call.
He signaled for a flagrant 1 on Byrd. It was his fifth foul. The Boilermakers were ahead 75-71 at the time. Villanova got two shots and the ball.
The Wildcats ended up making four free throws after another foul on Terone Johnson away from the ball.
The end result was an overtime game, which ended with Villanova pulling away and winning 89-81.
It was one semifinal on a Thursday night in mid-November. But it signified plenty for a rebuilding Purdue, a suddenly surging Villanova, and for the way in which a point of emphasis could be called in the future.
"I don't like the rule,'' said Villanova coach Jay Wright. "I don't think the refs like the rule.''
Officials have ruled that if an elbow strikes a player from the shoulders and above as he attempts to clear space then it's likely going to be called. Hilliard and Achraf Yacoubou were trapping Byrd in front of Villanova's bench. Byrd, who had played a terrific game with 16 points, was being swallowed up and had to clear an area to get a sightline to make a pass.
"It's obviously the worst thing that could happen,'' said a despondent Byrd. "The rule is if the elbow comes above where it's not supposed to then it's a flagrant 1. They got it right. It obviously wasn't intentional but that's the way the game goes.''
Byrd said he simply caught Hilliard in the wrong spot. He said he could only see Yacoubou but not Hilliard when he turned.
"I put myself in a difficult situation and it feels like that was the game,'' said Byrd. "I feel terrible.''
"I got hit,'' said Hilliard. "In the heat of the moment it didn't hurt but he caught me in the chin. Coach told me to keep my hands off him but he flung his elbow and he hit me and I fell back. It was a great call.''
The problem may not be with the call itself but more so by how long it took the officials to come up with a consensus. It wasn't conclusive on the multitude of replays and the officials spent an inordinate amount of time deciding. Purdue coach Matt Painter challenged it during the game, but didn't in the postgame. Byrd accepted responsibility.
"I didn't think it was a flagrant,'' said Johnson. "There was a lot of emotion there and we were waiting to see as they were reviewing it whether we got the call or not. We had to keep our composure.''
Purdue wasn't able to hold its ground late in the game and ultimately the physicality, which Purdue defined, turned against the Boilermakers. Purdue mirrors its coach and Painter has turned the Boilers into a gritty bunch. But losing to Bucknell at home and now to 'Nova in the 2K Sports Classic semifinals at Madison Square Garden may indicate a longer season. Purdue will fight this season, but if the Boilers can't be composed and finish games then they can't reach the top half of a loaded Big Ten.
Villanova was a complete afterthought in the Big East this season and in large part because Wright had no idea what he had. He knew freshman guard Ryan Arcidiacono was a stud if he made shots. He knew he had a strong guard who could excite the Main Line. But he had no clue if his squad -- without a preseason star -- had any toughness whatsoever.
Now he knows.
And the rest of the Big East will find out soon enough.
This was as physical a game as has been played in this brief season and the Wildcats won the fight.
"I see great potential in this group,'' said Wright. "I see a lot of work, too.''
Wright said the physicality of the Purdue game can't be duplicated in practice because 'Nova's eighth, ninth and 10th players can't come close to a team like the Boilermakers.
"No matter how much you say in practice, they don't understand it,'' said Wright. "This will be a great lesson for us. We learned you've got to be strong with every play.''
Who knows if any of the four teams at the 2K Classic will be NCAA-worthy -- Alabama outlasted Oregon State earlier. But this snapshot a week before Thanksgiving gave us a strong indicator.
Villanova grew up Thursday night. And if the Wildcats can translate that into consistent play in January and February then it might be due to the physical style they had to play to beat Purdue. There are season-changing games for teams, even this early.
We may have witnessed one for Villanova.
Purdue fans didn't want to leave Mackey Arena on Wednesday night.
Why should they have? At least, not before Robbie Hummel had a chance to speak.
Few players have given so much to one program.
Hummel should have played in a Final Four in his career. He probably should have been a first-team All-American. He should have spent this year playing professionally, in the NBA or overseas, as a Purdue graduate.
Instead, injuries interrupted his career, not once but twice, and robbed him of what could have been an iconic career for Purdue had he been given the opportunity to try to lead the Boilermakers to the Final Four.
"There were many times when I wondered if I would get to senior night," said Hummel. "It was so great that the fans stayed. It was a special night."
Hummel arrived in West Lafayette, Ind., as part of a celebrated freshmen class that included E'Twaun Moore and JaJuan Johnson. It was a class that served as the cornerstone for coach Matt Painter in directing the program's turnaround.
After battling a stress fracture in his back early in his career, Hummel tore his right ACL at Minnesota late in 2010, ending his season. At the time, the Boilermakers were No. 3 in the country and playing for a No. 1 seed in the NCAA tournament. They ended up earning a No. 4 seed and lost to top-seeded Duke in the Sweet 16.
"It's the most frustrating thing," said Hummel of his career. "I fully believe that had I not gotten hurt that we would have gone to the Final Four. We had the team to do it. We were about to be ranked No. 1."
Hummel tore his right ACL again the following October in his first practice of the season. He didn't play in 2010-11, and Johnson and Moore finished their careers without a Final Four appearance.
"For a while there, I thought I wouldn't make it," Hummel said of finishing his career. "All it takes is one movement and it could happen again. But luckily, the second surgery, they did a very good job. The trainers did a very good job."
He said it was hard knowing he wouldn't finish his career alongside Moore, with whom he had played since his sophomore year in high school, and Johnson, with whom he had played since the summer before college.
Hummel could have graduated last year, but he didn't want to dive into a time-consuming graduate business school program. He opted to pick up minors in communications and marketing and will get his undergraduate degree this spring.
The Boilermakers have survived some major distractions with the dismissal of Kelsey Barlow and the suspension of D.J. Byrd. After winning at Michigan on Feb. 25, the Boilermakers have all but sealed an NCAA tournament bid.
Hummel has been the team's leader and its top contributor with 16.8 points and seven boards a game. The balance is in place with Lewis Jackson, a double-figure scorer, on the perimeter and Ryne Smith making shots.
This team doesn't have a back-line defender of Johnson's quality but is capable of grinding out a win in the Big Ten tournament and being a tough out in the NCAAs.
"We're playing extremely well, and we're happy to be considered a lock to be in the tournament right now," Hummel said. "We're trying to improve our seed as much as possibly with a win at Indiana [Sunday]. It's big for us, and in the Big Ten tournament, anything can happen."
Few high-major players will appreciate being in the NCAAs this season as much as Hummel. He hasn't played in the postseason since his sophomore year.
"I appreciate playing in those games. It's always been fun, and it shows just how tough it is to get in the field," he said. "I say that because of what happened. I appreciate it more than I thought I would."
Hummel got a standing ovation at Mackey Arena. He should get an applause wherever his career ends in the NCAAs. He's been as good for the game as any player in the country the past five years.
All you see is Robbie Hummel, knee braces on both legs, grabbing his left hamstring and hobbling.
Then, a few minutes later, you glance up and see that Hummel is back on the floor, the far corner of the court, writhing in pain. Trainers have emerged, rubbing his legs with ice packs in hopes of getting him some relief.
The sound didn't need to be on -- and it wasn't in the ESPN studios on Saturday afternoon -- to understand that Hummel was in serious duress. But the pain was coming from cramps rather than his knees again.
Hummel had full body cramps. He was done for the final minute, when Xavier's Tu Holloway hit a 3-pointer to give the Musketeers an improbable 19-point comeback win.
There is a natural trepidation when you see Hummel on the court and in pain after all he's dealt with the previous two seasons. He tore his right ACL at Minnesota in February 2010, derailing a potential Final Four run by the Boilermakers. He then tore the same ACL again on the first day of practice in the fall of 2010 -- just as he was preparing to make a comeback in his senior season. With Hummel rejoining classmates JaJuan Johnson and E'Twaun Moore, Purdue had high hopes for the season.
Since Hummel has tendinitis in his left knee, he wears knee braces on both legs.
Hummel worked hard to return for his fifth season in college and lead a younger Purdue team as the senior statesman in a deep Big Ten. There is no reason the Boilermakers can't make a run to the NCAA tournament again. But the appearance of another injury to Hummel just shows how fragile his career has been and how much Purdue needs him to stay healthy for the Big Ten race. Hummel said the braces aren't cumbersome. And he isn't thinking about his knee injuries -- not one bit.
"I had been sick the whole week,'' said Hummel. "It was one of those things where my arms and hamstrings and my quads and my back, almost every muscle in my body [was cramping up]. I had never had that happen before. It was a first. I had cramps before but nothing to that extent.''
Hummel scored 17 points in 35 minutes in the 66-63 loss. He hit a 3-pointer to give the Boilermakers a 16-point lead in the second half and said he started cramping at the 17- or 18-minute mark. The cramp started in his left arm and then hit his calves. He went to the bench to get Gatorade and salt, but it got progressively worse.
"I knew it was cramps,'' said Purdue coach Matt Painter. "The only decision I had to make was should I keep him in the game. I shouldn't. He could barely move. He was on fumes. I asked him if he could go and obviously he said yes. But it didn't help us to have him in there. The last thing I wanted to have him have were full-body cramps. I had never been in that situation, never seen someone with full body cramps. That can be pretty dangerous, and he could have another injury while that's going on.''
Hummel said he wished he could have finished the game. And if he didn't have the cramps, he is convinced there would have been a different outcome.
"I wasn't very effective in those last 10 minutes because I was cramping,'' Hummel said. "I had a lot of confidence, and it's unfortunate that it happened."
Painter said Hummel hadn't practiced much the previous week due to being sick.
"He's a competitor and he lost so much [in games played due to injuries] that everything means so much to him, and at times he has to relax and play and let the game come to him,'' Painter said. "Right now, I've seen subtle improvements. He's still struggling to rebound there and has a tough time piecing everything together. But he's shooting the ball real well. I still want him to be aggressive.''
Hummel said he understands he has to rebound better in traffic and elevate better to get the boards. But he is confident that his shooting stroke is fine. He is averaging 18.8 points and 5.1 rebounds and shooting 44.4 percent overall (42.1 percent on 3s).
"All of that is behind me,'' Hummel said of the knee injuries. "I feel great.''
Purdue is off to a 7-2 start, with its only losses coming against Alabama in the Puerto Rico Tip-Off final and at Xavier. The Boilermakers host Western Carolina at Mackey Arena on Wednesday night.
"The last two years there was a lot of hype around our team and deservedly so,'' Hummel said. "We have a talented group this year and we're under the radar, and for the first 35 minutes you could see how we can play. Unfortunately, we didn't finish and we missed an opportunity. But it's encouraging that we were leading like that for that much time.''
Painter said the Boilermakers could be even better, especially defensively.
"We were up 19 points with 10 minutes to go, but we weren't very good at the end and got caught, missing layups and some basic things like taking care of the basketball,'' Painter said. "We've got a lot of room for improvement. We've got to be tougher and more grimy on the defensive end and get the 50-50 balls. We have to be patient but patiently aggressive. I think we can be a lot better.''
• The U.S. World University Games team -- led by Purdue coach Matt Painter (U.S. team head coach) along with Butler coach Brad Stevens and Tennessee coach Cuonzo Martin (U.S. assistants) -- continues to lose key players. Xavier's Tu Holloway turned down the invite to stay and play with his XU teammates. Wisconsin's Jordan Taylor is having minor ankle surgery. And now Painter said that UConn forward Alex Oriakhi is also out in order to rest an injury. Stevens said losing Oriakhi will be a big blow since the team that heads to China next month for the competition needs a rebounder like him in the tournament. Painter said Detroit's Ray McCallum Jr. and UConn's Shabazz Napier were added to the tryout list. Pitt's Ashton Gibbs and Syracuse's Scoop Jardine are still on the roster and are certainly favored to make the squad.
• There are still 22 players trying to make the U.S. squad and they'll compete and train in Colorado Springs from Aug. 4-7. The event runs Aug. 13-22 in Shenzhen, China. A number of players could use this international stage as a springboard for their college seasons; these players include Alabama's JaMychal Green, Texas A&M's Khris Middleton, Kentucky's Darius Miller, Northwestern's John Shurna, Minnesota's Trevor Mbakwe, Vanderbilt's John Jenkins, Michigan State's Draymond Green, Missouri's Kim English and Marcus Denmon and Notre Dame's Tim Abromaitis.
But perhaps more than any other player, Cincinnati's Yancy Gates needs to make this team and show he can be a force in order for the Bearcats to continue their rise in the Big East. Last season, he was suspended for a game due to team-related issues. Cincinnati coach Mick Cronin said Gates can come out of this looking like a team player and a stronger player who can change his image with a positive performance in China.
• Painter said fifth-year senior Robbie Hummel is tired of answering questions about his right knee (ACL surgery). And so are the Boilermakers. He said Hummel should be good to go once the season starts. Meanwhile, the Boilermakers are troubled by the foot surgery for John Hart that will keep him out for an extended period. Hart has had trouble with his right foot for quite some time.
• Villanova coach Jay Wright said JayVaughn Pinkston has been cleared by the school to play for the Wildcats this season. Pinkston was not allowed to play last season due to an assault charge. He was expected to have a major impact on last season's team prior to the incident. The Wildcats are prepping for a trip to Amsterdam, where they will play a few national teams. Wright said the Wildcats will be much different than any squad he's coached in recent years, with the team centered more around big men rather than being guard-oriented.
• Michigan coach John Beilein said the addition of freshmen guards Trey Burke and Carlton Brundidge should allow Stu Douglass to return to his natural off-guard position. Losing Darius Morris to the NBA draft was a huge blow to the Wolverines, but Tim Hardaway Jr. showed with the U-19 team in Latvia that he can create quite well with the ball in his hands. If the freshmen can be facilitators and Douglass can play off them, the Wolverines may not take a step back. Michigan is in the Maui Invitational in a loaded field, has to travel to upstart Virginia in the ACC-Big Ten Challenge, and gets a sleeper Big 12 team at home in Iowa State. The Wolverines are likely going to add a nonconference game at Arkansas that will take place during the Big Ten season.
• While on a recruiting trip in February, North Carolina coach Roy Williams took a side trip to an aircraft carrier in San Diego to see what it would be like in advance of the Carrier Classic on Nov. 11 against Michigan State. The USS Carl Vinson will be the host of the game, but it wasn't the ship that Williams toured. Williams wanted to see how this would work with a game on top of the ship deck. He couldn't get over the narrow passageways through the ship and wondered how his taller players would maneuver through the ship to get to the deck. Well, apparently there will be a lift that will help that occur so that shouldn't be a problem.
• Williams isn't ruling out Leslie McDonald coming back this season from an ACL injury. Williams said McDonald will have surgery on Aug. 3 and made it clear there's no reason to make any declarative statements at this juncture about a return.
• There was no consensus among the coaches in Orlando about whether to add a stipend, how it would be handled and how it could be divided up for all student-athletes. UConn's Jim Calhoun and Louisville's Rick Pitino said they would like to see $75 to $100 a week for the athletes -- roughly $400 a month.
• Not one coach endorsed the NCAA's new draft early-entry withdrawal date of April 10, 2012, after which no player will be allowed to enter the NBA draft. Makes you wonder why this was passed. Every coach who discussed it said it would lead to more poor decisions of players leaving early.
• Ole Miss coach Andy Kennedy tossed out this prediction about Vanderbilt: The Commodores are a Final Four contender.
• Old Dominion coach Blaine Taylor has gone to the Fred Hill makeover school. Hill, the former Rutgers head coach and current Northwestern assistant, was bald when he was head coach of the Scarlet Knights. Now he's gone with long hair in the back and new glasses. As for Taylor, he got rid of his famed mustache and dark hair. He's gone with something of an auburn or almost light red look. He was standing to the side of our TV set, and I wasn't the only one who had no idea who he was until you could read ODU on his golf shirt.
• Stanford is prepping for a trip to Spain in early September. The Cardinal and coach Johnny Dawkins need to get away to figure out who will stand out for them now that Jeremy Green is gone.
• New Fairfield coach Sydney Johnson squeezed in a team trip to Italy next month, which will be critical for him to get to know his players more and see how Boston College transfer Rakim Sanders meshes with a team that won the MAAC regular-season title last season and is back almost in full.
• The travel some of these coaches put on themselves is a bit ridiculous. Dawkins was in Orlando on Monday, then took off for Phoenix and then Los Angeles before he headed back to Orlando by Thursday. Temple coach Fran Dunphy was in Orlando on Monday and was off to Phoenix before a return to Orlando by the end of the week.
• New Maryland coach Mark Turgeon said he has reviewed his team enough to know that scoring up front will be a challenge. He said he'll likely go with four guards on the court on a consistent basis.
• Northwestern's Bill Carmody clearly wanted to be noticed in showing his school spirit. He had a rather loud pair of purple sweat pants that I'm not sure you could or would want to buy at the campus bookstore. Michigan State's Tom Izzo went with Spartan green, which Carmody pointed out, but the green was certainly more muted than the purple.