Hummel bummed ‘Baby Boilers’ denied ‘storybook ending’

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Robbie Hummel’s right knee not only robbed Purdue of a fully healthy team for the 2010 NCAA tournament, it derailed his entire 2010-11 season and forced the Boilermakers into yet another Big Dance at less than 100 percent.

But perhaps the most frustrating aspect? He couldn’t finish his career with the “Baby Boilers” he began his time in West Lafayette with: E’Twaun Moore and JaJuan Johnson. Those three players spearheaded Purdue’s return to national prominence and were supposed to chase NCAA titles and NBA dreams at the same time.

For Hummel to be left behind while those two move on is more than a little tough.

“I thought I’d go out with JaJuan and E’Twaun,” Hummel told Jeff Goodman. “Senior night was probably the toughest thing for me, that and seeing the guys lose in the second round. I always thought it would be a storybook ending.”

Purdue fans undoubtedly felt the same way before Hummel tore the ACL in his right knee last October, less than nine months after the same injury suffered at the end of the 2009-10 season.

But Hummel, in Goodman’s first feature for CBSSports.com, sounds upbeat about the 2011-12 season, one in which he’ll be the unquestioned leader and focal point of a Boilermakers team that loses two incredible players and faces questions about if it’ll remain among the Big Ten title contenders.

“We lost a lot. That’s a fact,” Hummel told Goodman. “We lost an All-American in JaJuan and another guy in E’Twaun that could have been an All-American. I think people may call me crazy, but we’re going to have a really good team. People look at us as if there’s no one left, but we only lost two guys. I know who they are, but we’ve got everyone else back. We’ll be different – and we’ll have to have guys step up.”

It’s good to see Hummel’s so chipper and upbeat about his second senior season. Two major injuries in the span of less than a year would certainly sap most people’s desire.

So keep your fingers crossed for Hummel. Actually, keep ‘em crossed for that right knee’s continued health. He deserves a healthy season for once.

You also can follow me on Twitter @MikeMillerNBC.