Third-ranked Purdue was back on the court Friday for practice for the first time since the school announced junior Robbie Hummel was done for the season with a torn ACL in his right knee.
For the first time this season, practice was closed to the media. But Hummel was in Mackey, sporting a USA sweatshirt and walking on crutches. He joined the team for film session before practice.
Coaching staff gathered players in Mackey Arena Thursday to discuss the news of Hummel's injury. He wasn't present.
There was encouraging, challenging and positive forward-thinking.
Now, the real work has to be done.
No one can replace Hummel on the court -- his scoring, rebounding, defending and intangibles -- but head coach Matt Painter is going to have to find guys who will try. Players who haven't been counted on like this all season.
- Senior Keaton Grant, who has played perhaps his best three games of the season consecutively.
- John Hart, who didn't emerge into the rotation until Painter randomly inserted him into the game at Illinois. Hart responded with energy and an offensive boost. But now Hart must stay within himself. He hasn't been shy to pull the trigger and let shots fly, but shot selection will be critical now when every possession counts.
- Freshman Patrick Bade, the only other legit big man on the roster besides starting 6-foot-10 center JaJuan Johnson. But Bade has seemed to struggle grasping some fundamental concepts -- coaches are always on him in practice about setting a screen "on a body" instead of vs. air -- and he hasn't utilized his size well. He must become a decent rebounder and not be a liability on defense -- quickly.
- Sophomore Lewis Jackson still is getting back in shape from missing most of the season with a foot injury. Though he's a point guard, his minutes could jump because Painter likely will have to play more four-guard sets. Jackson has steadily progressed, and his ability to create offense will be pivotal.
- Freshman D.J. Byrd began the season getting decent minutes as Hummel's back-up at power forward. Byrd really is a guard, though, and as his shot stopped falling, he seemed consumed with it and let it affect other parts of his game. That doesn't cut it under Painter. Byrd must focus on defense and rebounding now and just being a facilitator on offense.
"They know what they have to do," he said "I'm not asking them to do anything different than I was asking them to do before. They're going to have more of an opportunity, but I'm not going to say anything different than I would before."
That was one of Painter's messages to the team on Thursday: DON'T try to do more.
That includes leading scorer E'Twaun Moore and all-conference center JaJuan Johnson, who leads the team in rebounding.
"We don't need anyone going out and deciding, 'Oh, I need to plug the hole for Rob and score 20,' " Grant said. "We don't need none of that. As long as we play within ourselves and play hard, everything will take care of itself."