football Edit

Hammons returns; notebook

When A.J. Hammons checked in at the 14:22 mark of the first half Wednesday, nearly 12,000 fans at Mackey Arena erupted.
Purdue may have handedly won its first two games without the 7-foot senior, but everyone in the building knew they'd be a markedly better team with the all-conference player.
And in his first game of the season, Hammons showcased all the reasons why: Blocking three shots, snatching six rebounds and scoring eight points in only 15 minutes in Purdue's 96-61 victory over Incarnate Word.
"It felt pretty good just to get out there with the team," Hammons said. "The couple games I wasn't playing, I was still cheering my team on, but it just felt good to be back out there.
"It's a little different from practice, just playing each other. I knew I had to just get out there and I do what I know I can do. Block shots, rebound and try to get my position, get a couple scores here and there but just be out there supporting my team."
Neither coach Matt Painter nor Hammons would specify what kept Hammons out the first two games, but whatever was keeping Hammons off the court apparently has been resolved.
It'll be up to Hammons to keep it that way.
"He's got to be able to handle his business. He's been able to do that, but he's also got to be able to continue to do that," Painter said. "So does everybody on your team. Anybody's program - and coaches talk about it across the country - distractions get you beat. You can't have distractions. You have to have everybody on the same page, doing what they're supposed to be doing.
"That obviously holds true for him, but hopefully that's behind him and we can move forward and he can be better because of it."
Asked what lessons he'd taken from sitting two games, Hammons said to never take anything for granted and to always be willing to cheer on the team, even if he's not playing.
Hammons' presence is much better felt on the court, though.
The Boilermakers owned a considerable size advantage Wednesday, and Hammons was one of three Purdue players with at least three blocks and one of five who had at least six rebounds.
But he also can be important to Purdue's offense, scoring with his back to the basket but also helping facilitate looks for teammates by screening to free up shooters.
For now, though, Hammons will be providing that skill set off the bench.
Isaac Haas has started the first three games in Hammons' place and played well. Painter called Haas, who had team highs with 17 points, 12 rebounds and four blocks, "great" on Wednesday.
"Isaac's been better. He deserves to start," Painter said. "If Hammons outplays him and it's better for our team like we did last year we flip-flopped them a couple times just because one was playing better than the other. Good guy to bring off the bench."
Another optionThe Boilermakers already have shown there's a potential for three-point prowess this season with the school-record 18 three-pointers in Game 2, and the big men dominated Wednesday in the paint.
But don't disregard the in-between: Purdue's midrange game was on-point against Incarnate Word.
Vince Edwards stuck a free-throw line jumper, pulled up on the baseline for a J and, after a head fake, used one dribble from the wing to get into the lane and stick a pull-up in the game's first five minutes.
Rapheal Davis went around a defender on the wing before quickly pulling up for a free-throw line jump shot, Dakota Mathias stuck a baseline shot after a tipped ball and P.J. Thompson dropped a floater in from the lane in an array of non-three-point or post-play buckets.
"Being able to knock down threes and having an interior game, having some post play and then having an intermediate shot, it really helps. You have balance," Painter said. "Because people are going to try to run you off the line at times when you have good shooters, so it was good to see those guys pull up and make some plays."
OutBasil Smotherman's injury was so fresh, Painter didn't even know what it was Wednesday.
Smotherman, already redshirting, had a cast on his right hand while sitting on Purdue's bench.
"He broke something. I don't know (what)," Painter said. "It just happened Wednesday, and I was doing stuff. (So) I don't know."
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