For about the 12th time this season, I watched much of Sunday’s Michigan State-Purdue game wishing Robbie Hummel’s senior season would’ve been last year.
Watching the 6-8 wing teaming with JaJaun Johnson and E’Twaun Moore could’ve been something special. Instead of running out of gas in the Big Ten tournament and the Big Dance, Purdue might’ve reached the third Final Four in school history.
Instead, here’s Hummel, gamely playing in the Boilermakers’ transition season on a knee that’s had two major surgeries while teammates deal with off-court issues. Maybe this season will end with an NCAA tournament berth, maybe not. But the season must be frustrating. (Even without the hecklers.)
That can’t be easy. I’m sure Hummel – one of the sport’s good guys – isn’t thinking that way. He’s probably focused on Nebraska .
What else can he do after a day like Sunday when he scores 24 points, grabs 15 rebounds, blocks three shots and has three assists?
“Distractions kill you,” Michigan State coach Tom Izzo said. “The job he (Purdue coach Matt Painter) and his staff did to get his team ready to play under the circumstance was incredible. I say that not out of liking somebody, I say it out of experience. Been there and done that. I give Matt and his staff and Hummel, what a warrior, a lot of credit for what they did because they outplayed us for over half that game.”
It’s not like Hummel was perfect. Draymond Green effectively shut him down during the second half and Purdue didn’t have any other scoring options. Hummel’s game isn’t built to carry a team (though he tries) and his knee probably isn’t up for it, anyway.
Hummel’s college career will likely extend another seven games, maybe eight or nine if he’s lucky. (Hopefully that includes the NCAA tourney). If his body can’t take a professional career, this is it for his basketball life.
That’s a painful thought.
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