After turning his ankle in Saturday's win over Purdue, few know Robert Johnson's status as Indiana and Tom Crean prepare for a trip to Champaign, Illinois on Thursday night in primetime.
Johnson looked to roll his ankle on this play late in the second half, shortly before Purdue rallied furiously to leave Indiana fans holding on for dear life at the end. Shown below, his left ankle buckles outward as he plants and braces for contact with Purdue's AJ Hammons -- and then takes another good but clean hit at the basket.
That looked not great. What was the formal diagnosis?
Justin Albers of AllHoosiers.com reports that tests & x-rays on Johnson's ankle came back negative -- it's merely a sprain. Of course, anyone who's ever sustained a badly turned ankle on a basketball floor knows the nature of the injury. With some, you're on crutches for a day or two and fine shortly thereafter. Others linger. Johnson was seen out on Kirkwood Ave. on a single crutch and a walking boot.
Yeah, you're not improperly crutching yourself to Chipotle if you're in absolutely crippling pain. This is probably a good sign for Indiana fans.
So, will Rob Johnson play Thursday at Illinois?
That's hard to say. Ankles are fickle beasts -- and it's hard to go from walking boot to Big Ten road game in three-to-four days time.
But here's a better question: Should Indiana even try to get him ready to play?
Illinois is no pushover, and the Building Formerly Also Known As Assembly Hall has been a house of horrors for Indiana over the years. Still, the Illini have only beaten one team (Hi, Purdue!) that isn't Minnesota or Rutgers. It wouldn't be a terrible time for Johnson to be rest to be fully healthy for the two-game stretch against Iowa & Maryland -- and then the Big Ten tournament shortly thereafter.
Who would slide in for Johnson's absence in the starting lineup? Those minutes would likely go to Nick Zeisloft -- an Illinois native that started his career less than an hour from Champaign at Illinois State. It'd be Zeisloft's final career game in his home state, and one would think the La Grange native would be more than up for an opportunity to fill Johnson's role on the road against the Illini.