Isaac Haas wanted to be a hero. He wanted to play for Purdue in the NCAA tournament despite fracturing his right elbow two days earlier. The senior wanted to prolong his career despite an injury that will eventually require surgery.
Unfortunately, the NCAA wouldn’t let him.
Haas, Purdue’s 7-foot-2 center, warmed up with teammates ahead of Sunday’s second-round game against Butler – a game Purdue eventually won, 76-73. He did so with a bulky black brace on his right arm, and tried to test the broken elbow. But the NCAA wouldn’t clear the brace that Haas would have needed to play.
An NCAA spokesman confirmed that officials inspected the brace “and determined it didn’t meet player safety standards.”
Those standards, as laid out in the NCAA rulebook, are, in part:
Art. 1. The referee shall not permit any player to wear equipment that in his or her judgment is dangerous to other players.
Art. 2. Elbow, hand, finger, wrist or forearm guards, casts or braces made of fiberglass, plaster, metal or any other nonpliable substance, shall be prohibited.
Art. 4. Pliable (flexible or easily bent) material, covered on all exterior sides and edges with not less than 1/2-inch thickness of a slow-rebounding foam, may be used to immobilize and protect an injury.
Art. 5. Equipment that could cut or cause an injury to another player shall be prohibited, without respect to whether the equipment is hard. Excessively long fingernails shall be prohibited.
Here’s a look at the brace Haas wore during warmups:
Videos showed Haas trying to lift his arm and put up shots, but he was clearly grimacing and unable to use the right arm fully functionally. He was able to get up some close-range shots in warmups, but didn’t look at all comfortable:
When he did shoot from beyond 10 feet, he did so with his non-dominant left hand:
Haas broke the elbow fighting for a rebound during Purdue’s first-round victory over Cal State Fullerton:
It’s unclear if Purdue would have let Haas play if the NCAA had cleared the brace. Head coach Matt Painter said Saturday that he did not think Haas would be able to play.
But that is now a moot point after the NCAA’s ruling on the brace, and after Purdue held off Butler without him. Freshman center Matt Haarms, starting in place of Haas, had seven rebounds and six points. The Boilermakers nearly blew a double-digit lead in the second half, but held on for a 76-73 victory.
They’ll take on Texas Tech in the Sweet 16 on Friday. Despite the five days in between games, it will likely be without Haas again.
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