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  • Purdue's Isaac Haas looks at his right arm while stretching during practice at the NCAA men's college basketball tournament in Boston, Thursday, March 22, 2018. Purdue faces Texas Tech in a regional semifinal on Friday night. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa)

  • Purdue's Isaac Haas is fitted with an arm brace during practice at the NCAA men's college basketball tournament in Boston, Thursday, March 22, 2018. Purdue faces Texas Tech in a regional semifinal on Friday night. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa)

  • Purdue's Isaac Haas, wearing an arm brace, awaits a pass during practice at the NCAA men's college basketball tournament in Boston, Thursday, March 22, 2018. Purdue faces Texas Tech in a regional semifinal on Friday night. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa)

Thursday, March 22, 2018 7:00 pm

NCAA Tournament

Painter doesn't think Haas will play

DYLAN SINN | The Journal Gazette

BOSTON — When Purdue's Isaac Haas hit the court against Cal State-Fullerton in the fist round of the NCAA Tournament, there were two booming sounds. One was the center's elbow, hitting the hardwood before he could break his own fall. That was followed by the rest of his 300-pound body hitting the floor on top of the elbow.

The fall broke Haas' right elbow and since then a large portion of the buzz surrounding Purdue has centered on whether the 7-foot-2 senior will be able to return to the lineup.

Coach Matt Painter has been asked about Haas' availability in a dozen different ways in the last week, and his answers haven't changed much. The coach was adamant in his evaluation of the center ahead of the No. 2 seed Boilermakers'  Sweet 16 matchup against No. 3 Texas Tech today in Boston.

"I would think he's done," Painter said. "To me, it's the eye test. It's going out and watching him. ...  If you fractured your elbow and you can't shoot a free throw, I don't know how it changes in two days."

Haas didn't practice Tuesday or Wednesday, according to Painter, but he was on the court early in Thursday's practice, running some light drills with his teammates, though he was shooting almost exclusively with his left hand and held his right arm steady at a 90-degree angle even when he ran.

A bulky brace, which guard Carsen Edwards described as a "horse saddle," covered the center's elbow during practice. The brace was created by a group of Purdue engineering students and is designed to be approved for play by the NCAA, which rejected the brace Haas wore during warmups before Purdue's second-round matchup against Butler.

Haas said he thinks the brace will be approved because "there's nothing hard in there." The brace must be "pliable," according to NCAA rules. Even with the brace, however, Haas still seems unlikely to play. He said he has been keeping the elbow elevated at night, which he described as "awful."

"It's pretty painful," said Haas, who will finish his career among the top 20 scorers in Purdue history. "If I fall on it, it's going to be a 10 (on a pain scale of 1 to 10). Trying to use it to do stuff, it's like a 7, 8."

The brace might not allow Haas to play, but the rest of the Boilermakers are thankful that the engineering students tried to help their wounded teammate. Vincent Edwards joked that he wished some students had helped him when his car broke down as a freshman, but he also expressed gratitude.

"Going to a school like Purdue, you have these students and people working in those departments that know what they're doing," Edwards said. "I was in the training room when they talked about it, facilitating it out. I walked over to shake their hands to thank them. To try to give him an opportunity to play again, that was huge on their part."

Despite the pain and the complications with the brace, Haas insists he wants to play, no matter how limited his role might be. 

"Why give up now," he said. "Even if it's setting one screen or playing one minute, it's worth it if it helps our team."

dsinn@jg.net