If you're reading this, then you probably already know. And if not.... where the hell have you been?? It's anarchy! Blood running through the streets! Fire and brimstone hailing from the sky!! Dogs and cats..... LIVING TOGETHER!! Mass hysteria!
Alright, have we all calmed down a bit?
We know that Rob Hummel is done for the year and likely the beginning of next year. But he's going to be okay. He's a smart kid, he's a hard worker, and he's come back from fractured vertebrae. His future is actually in fine shape if he rehabs as he should and none of us have any reason to believe he won't.
But let's get back to being selfish and ask what this means for this season.
There seem to be two camps as of right now. In one, there are people who basically feel the season is essentially over. They're not quitting as fans, mind you, but they just feel destroyed and punched in the gut and think that advancing a round or two is all we can hope for.
The other camp is the group that seems to be pulling themselves up by the bootstraps and saying, "No, we're good. We will persevere!" But you almost feel like these people are trying to convince themselves.
Let's state it clearly here -- this is a bad blow, yes, but the season is not ruined. We assure you. The Boiled Sports guarantee (it's worth so very much).
Losing Rob Hummel is a huge blow to this team. However, his injury and absence can be dealt with and this team still can still win the Big Ten and make the deep NCAA tourney run we all want.
What does it mean for playing time, starting spots and expectations? Glad you asked.
Mr. Bade, get limbered up, son. Because you're going to need to give us some minutes. No, we can't count on young Bade to replace Rob Hummel, but as Boilerdowd said on our show last night, Bade is the one who most resembles Hummel in the physical sense. His length is similar, he can do some of the curling and he can rebound. If Bade gives us 8-10 minutes a game of this and stops looking like a scared kitten, that's a nice start.
Keaton Grant is alive. We've seen it the past few games and we saw an incredibly promising sign last night. KG hit three yooooge shots late in last night's game, including the game-winning with seven seconds left. And if you watch the replay, you see the level of confidence with which he fired that shot. This very well may be the KG of old, or at least a reasonable facsimile of him.
LewJack and Barlow should see their minutes increase as well, which does not worry us one bit.
How monumentally fortunate are we that Keaton Grant was bounced from the starting lineup in favor of Kelsey Barlow earlier this season? Had that not happened, Barlow would not have the experience or confidence he now has. Yes, it's terrible to lose Rob Hummel out of the starting lineup. But when you're able to take a senior off the bench who is used to starting (KG) and plug him back into the starting lineup, well, that's about as good a scenario as you could ask for, right?
Replacing a junior leader with a senior leader with skills is not a bad thing. In addition, it might be time to have LewJack start the games and use Kelsey off the bench. Your starting five would then look like this:
Johnson (Jr), Moore (Jr), Kramer (Sr), Grant (Sr), Jackson (So)
I'll go to battle with that starting lineup any time.
Do we need 20 ppg from Keaton? No, we do not. If we can get 10-15 out of him consistently, that would go a long, LONG way to helping fill the void. Lewis Jackson is ready and is all the way back. JJ is capable of taking over games, as we have seen, and is truly indispensable. And E'Twaun Moore will step up his game to whatever level the Boilermakers need. I have never been so confident in a guy's ability to respond as I am in Smooge's.
Chris Kramer has to play defense as Chris Kramer can. The guys need to stay out of foul trouble and understand they have a slightly shorter bench. Is this the kind of group that can understand this and rise to the occasion? I think so, and I say that without hesitation.
Are any of these things that I have put forth crazytalk? Am I asking JJ to score 30 a game? Are we talking about Smooge shooting the lights out all the time? No.
Here's a big one: Are we asking guys to do things they have never done before?
No, we are not.
So when you begin to believe again (if you haven't already), do so with confidence. No, losing the Ostrich is not a good thing and we'd never pretend it was. But he's going to be present and spurring these guys on. And we have Coach Matty who knows how to prepare his guys. They will not look shell-shocked any longer on Sunday. And if they beat Michigan State, the train is fully back on the tracks again.
Keep the faith, everyone.