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Purdue Basketball: Get Well Soon Sasha

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Sasha Stefanovic tests positive for Covid-19.

NCAA Basketball: Purdue at Iowa Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports

After rumblings about potential Covid issues all day, Coach Painter provided some clarity on the Boilermakers situation heading into the game at Michigan tonight.

I hate this for Sasha for a myriad of reasons. His health is obviously the first thing that should be on the mind of Boilermaker fans. Most college athletes kick this thing without major repercussions, but some don’t. Hopefully Sasha ends up with a mild or asymptomatic case, but even “mild” cases sound miserable.

From a Purdue basketball perspective, you hate it for Sasha because he’s putting together a solid season. He leads the Big10 in 3 point percentage and is averaging 11 points a game. He also provides Purdue with on-court leadership and is always looking to step in and take a charge on defense. There isn’t any one player on the roster that can step in a give the Boilermakers what Sasha brings to the court.

That said, it’s nice to have Jayden Ivey in reserve. I expect the precocious freshman to step into the lineup, and he should do so with confidence after icing Ohio State earlier in the week. While Jayden is undeniably talented, it does put Purdue in a bit of a bind in terms of shooting. Ivey is at his best when he’s attacking the rim. Sasha is at his best flying around screens and hitting from deep. Brandon Newman is going to have to take over the mantle of 3 point gunner until Sasha returns. He’s going to need help though, and that falls on Eric Hunter Jr. and Isaiah Thompson.

Hunter Jr. is only shooting 31% from 3 this season, and he’ll need to improve that or teams are going to focus even more on stopping Tre. Thompson is slated to get a big minutes boost, and he could solve some of the spacing issues I foresee. He’s currently shooting 40% from 3, but he can be selective with his shooting opportunities. He’ll need to pull the trigger a little more frequently now.

This is a gut punch for the surging Boilermakers, and it’s going to require several players to fill the Sasha sized hole in the lineup.

Get well soon Sasha.