Unfortunate update – 10/16/10: Robbie Hummel has torn his ACL again and will miss the entire 2010-11 season.
Purdue is currently in the midst of its greatest basketball season since Gene Keady the Big Dog led the Boilers to a #1 ranking, a #1 seed, and, sadly for Boiler fans, an ignominious early exit in the early 90s. In fact, the 3rd ranked Boilers are having one of the best regular seasons in the history of their school.
That such a season is occurring during some of the darkest days in the proud tradition of IU basketball might lead you to believe that Hoosier fans are desperately rooting for anything to knock the Boilers off of their current pedestal.
And you’d be right. We are…just not an injury. And certainly not an injury to one of more underrated players to play college basketball over the last half decade.
Unfortunately, harkening memories that IU fans are all too familiar with, Purdue forward Robbie Hummel left last night’s Boilermaker victory over Minnesota with an apparent knee injury, possibly a torn ACL.
Hummel did not return to action after the injury occurred in the first half, although he did come back to the bench with the help of crutches. The extent of Hummel’s injury is not yet officially known, but as message board posters are often wont to do, the posters at the free board over at GoldandBlack.com are speculating that their best player’s season is over.
I will update this post later on when more definitive word is given on the status of Robbie Hummel. I did not watch the game and, thus, did not see the play that caused the injury. Here is how it was being described on the message boards:
That knee injury looked pretty bad. Partially torn ACL at the very least.
The knee buckling back in towards him after the initial cut is the give away. Really hate it for him. Such a great guy and hard worker. He and the team deserve better.
And on and on.
For the record, let me just state that despite my profound hatred of everything gold and black, and despite my unyielding desire to see Purdue lose every game, and despite the pleasure I take in seeing Purdue fans suffer the pain of losing seasons, early exits, and the fate of always being #2 in the state of Indiana…I honestly felt like someone had punched me in the stomach when I heard about Hummel’s injury.
Is it a sign that I care too much about Big Ten basketball? Yes, probably.
Is it a sign that I am getting soft about the IU-Purdue rivalry in my old age? I don’t think so, but maybe I’m a little more “mature” about it than I used to be (paragraph above notwithstanding…by the way, GIVE BACK!)
Is it a sign that I still have not gotten over Alan Henderson getting hurt in 1993 and, to a certain but lesser extent – since I was not alive – a sign that I have not gotten over Scott May getting hurt in 1975? Unequivocally yes.
As I discussed with former IU legend Greg Graham earlier this week on the MSF Podcast, Indiana has won five national championships and it is quite possible that the two best teams in school history did not hang a championship banner.
Some quick history:
In 1975, the Hoosiers swept through the regular season undefeated but watched May, the team’s best all around player, go down with a knee injury towards the end of the regular season. Indiana lost in the regional final to Kentucky. The next season, IU completed the last undefeated season in college basketball, going 32-0 and winning the title. Still, on numerous occasions, Bob Knight has said that the 1975 team was better…just not as healthy during the tournament.
In 1993, Indiana was ranked #1 for the majority of the season and finished 17-1 in the Big Ten. The week of a key February matchup with Purdue, however, the Hoosiers’ best big man, Henderson, went down with a torn ACL during practice. My parents remember where they were when Kennedy got shot; I remember where I was when I heard about Alan Henderson. (For the record, I was in the living room of my parents’ house watching channel #5, which used to provide text sports news updates from the wire services…long before the Internet took over our lives.)
I am 28 years old, it is 17 years later, and I still regret that my favorite sports team of all time never got to fulfill its destiny (at least in my mind) of winning the national championship. I don’t even remember who won that year. After IU lost in the Elite 8 to Kansas I couldn’t watch the tournament anymore.
You can probably see where all of this is headed.
There are probably 12 year old Purdue fans who go to Mackey Arena, watch Robbie Hummel play, and then head out to their driveway in West Lafayette and dribble around pretending to be Hummel, E’Twaun Moore, or JuJuan Johnson. Or maybe they stand behind their parents’ car when their parents are backing out of the driveway and let it him them so they can pretend to be Chris Kramer taking a charge; remember, Purdue fans aren’t very smart, so who knows.
But as much as I hate Purdue, I can empathize with the despondent Purdue fan this morning who is hanging on every Robbie Hummel injury update, hoping beyond hope that he can return and lead this Purdue team to what many Boiler fans believe is its destiny: the Final Four. Maybe it is, maybe it isn’t, but to Purdue fans I will simply say that I respect your passion and faith in your team if you see no other alternative with a healthy lineup.
And the truth is, it very well could be correct.
This year’s Purdue team is (damnit this hurts to say) very, very good. They play a disciplined, hard-nosed brand of basketball that reminds me of what good IU teams used to do. I’ve been dreading filling out my brackets because I’m not sure I can physically write Purdue’s name into a Final Four line, but it was starting to look more and more like an inevitability with each Big Ten victory.
Until Hummel got hurt.
Now all bets are off until we hear more, because Robbie Hummel might even more to this Purdue team than Alan Henderson meant to IU in ’93. The Hoosiers still had the National Player of the Year in Calbert Cheaney and guys like Greg Graham and Damon Bailey. Purdue is led by Hummel, Moore, and Johnson, and they need all three guys playing nothing less than their B+ games to win.
So, in response to friend of the site Cody Dunlap, who tweet me this last night:
Hmm. Robbie Hummel apparently injured against Minnesota. What a shame. I’ll bet @JerodMSF isn’t shedding a tear for Purdue’s misfortune.
My response is this: no, I’m not shedding a tear for Purdue’s misfortune. I’ve already cried enough figurative tears about Henderson and May that I don’t really have any left for anyone else, and Purdue would certainly be at the bottom of my list of tear-worthy sports programs.
But I will say this: I am taking no joy in seeing such a good player and (from what I hear) good kid go down, despite his unfortunate college choice. I hope the injury is not as serious as it is being made out to be. If it means that I have to live in a world in which Purdue is a Final Four team or even *gasp* a national champion, then so be it. I may hate Purdue, but after what I’ve gone through with injuries to good players on my favorite teams, I’ll never take joy in an injury to someone on another team ever again. Even a Purdue player.
Hopefully Robbie Hummel can get back on the court soon, and do so this year, because if Purdue gets matched up against John Calipari and Kentucky in the tournament, they’ll need Hummel to win. And that matchup would be the first time in my life that I would be actively rooting for Purdue’s basketball team to win a game.
I’d write more but I need to go shower now after writing that last sentence.
In conclusion, MSF sends its best wishes to Robbie Hummel. Let’s not add another name to the list of injuries that prevented outstanding Hoosier state teams from realizing their tournament potential.
Update 10:15 2/25 - Robbie Hummel’s status for the remainder of 2010 is not known, and may not be until tomorrow. According to Doug Griffiths at GoldandBlack.com, Hummel will be examined today. Matt Painter had been schedule to have a press conference later today, but it has been pushed back until tomorrow, when an announcement about Hummel is more likely.
Update: 8:30 2/26 – Unfortunately, it was announced last night that Robbie Hummel will miss the remainder of the season with a torn ACL. Terrible.