Purdue's men's basketball team suffered a devastating injury to their star forward Robbie Hummel, who tore the ACL in his right knee during the team's first full practice in advance of the 2010-2011 season. Hummel had worked his way back from a torn ACL in the same knee back in February, and was considered healthy in advance of the season after a grueling rehab. Purdue was considered a national title contender with Hummel projected as a part of their lineup, but now uncertainty clouds the program and its goals for the upcoming season.
An easy call would be to consider Purdue in dire straits without a player they leaned on mightily during the 09-10 season, and dismiss them from the conversation as a national contender. Here we'll go over ten potential reasons why Purdue's season is not lost in spite of losing Hummel.
Click through for 10 reasons why the Purdue Boilermakers can still make an impact in college basketball even without Robbie Hummel.
Last season Purdue lost Robbie Hummel on February 24, in a game on the road against the Minnesota Golden Gophers. Purdue had racked up a 24-3 record with Hummel in the lineup averaging 15 points and 7 rebounds per game, but they were suddenly without one of their biggest front court contributors.
Nonetheless Purdue persevered, reaching the Big Ten Conference semifinals before bowing out to Minnesota. They then staged a strong run through the NCAA tournament, reaching the Sweet 16 before losing to the eventual national champion Duke Blue Devils.
Purdue has dealt with the difficulty of playing without their leading forward, and they will have that experience to guide them through the duration of the 2010 season.
Center JaJuan Johnson will have to step up in place of the injured Robbie Hummel, and all signs point to the big man being able to handle an increased presence in the offense. The six foot ten big man decided to return for his senior season after being a member of the All Big Ten team for his strong 2009-2010 campaign, and Purdue is that much stronger as a result.
Johnson averaged 15.5 points per game while pulling down 7 rebounds and blocking two shots per game, in what was a very impressive junior season in the Big Ten.
His performance will be leaned on heavily in the absence of Hummel, and as a senior you can expect him to potentially elevate his game to even greater heights in 2010.
For Purdue to have a good year in 2010 they need their junior point guard Lewis Jackson to both stay healthy and up his game from where it's been in years past. Jackson was injured for much of the 2009-2010 season, and when he did play he was unable to generate much offense. The 5'9 junior will be needed greatly in the absence of Robbie Hummel, as he'll have to step up as a consistent distributor of the ball while also getting more involved with his own offensive game.
Jackson averaged an underwhelming 2 points a game, and that will have to go up now that the Boilermakers are down one of their bigger offensive assets. Jackson will need to step up defensively as well, as denying penetration from opposing guards will help offset the loss of Hummel's interior presence.
Jackson's emergence would go a long way for Purdue's hopes in this 2010 season.
Evin if Lewis Jackson can't get the job done at point for the Boilermakers, coach Matt Painter will still have a freshman ready to step up in Terone Johnson, a highly-regarded recruit who could see big minutes as a point guard in 2010-2011. Ditto for incoming freshman Anthony Johnson, another guard who could step into Purdue's back court and make an impact.
Painter has shown a willingness to lean on young players and this mantra will be welcome, and necessary, in order to fill Robbie Hummel's void.
The Big Ten has become a much tougher basketball conference over the years, a fact that will aid Purdue as they look to hang on in the absence of Robbie Hummel. This may seem counterintuitive given that more competitive teams would make it harder to maintain winning ways without a star player, but I would argue the opposite.
There could be a level of parity in the Big Ten given the strength of Michigan State, Wisconsin, Ohio State and Purdue that allows the Boilermakers to grind out enough in-conference wins to still be in a position to make a run at the BIg Ten Championship. Similarly, the in-conference level of competition will be high to the point that should Purdue advance to the NCAA Tournament they will be battle tested after enduring a grueling conference schedule. This could help Purdue's chances of learning to win without Hummel, while also giving them confidence to win tight games in March.
It's an intangible asset, but Purdue will have to be dependent on their two returning seniors in order to instill confidence and stabilize the team and its psyche in the wake of Hummel's injury. JaJuan Johnson and E'Twaun Moore are two of Purdue's best players, and that will have to go beyond offense and defense in the wake of Robbie Hummel being lost for the season.
These two seniors will be leaned on heavily in order to fill the leadership void, and on a team where freshman will no doubt be thrust into playing time and expected to contribute, the ascension of Johnson and Moore will be a big part of why Purdue is able to maintain success this season.
Six foot four senior guard E'Twaun Moore will be the second half of the senior dynamic duo that will have to be on point in virtually all of Purdue's games in order for the Boilermakers to withstand this crushing injury.
The biggest part of Moore's game will be how he manages to create opportunities for himself on the perimeter. If he's able to further establish himself as a dangerous one-on-one threat capable of making his own shot from scratch, Purdue can open things up a bit more and compensate for losing a big inside/outside threat in Hummel.
Moore is steadily going to give double digit points while making a dent in assists and rebounds in each game, but his offense will be absolutely essential for Purdue to maintain. He is talented enough to end up as an All American by the end of the 2010-2011 season, and his explosion onto the national scene will help Purdue greatly.
After Hummel was injured in February, freshman forward Patrick Bade was thrust into a larger role for Purdue, and was largely ineffective. He's a big bodied 6'8, 230 pound forward who Purdie will need to rely on to show progress in his second year at the school in order to fill the Hummel void.
Bade will come off the bench, but he could see an uptick in his involvement if he makes strides from his freshman campaign. He is a high-energy rebounder and defender who has an offensive game that has yet to show itself in the NCAA (he averaged less than 2 points per game despite appearing in 35 games for Purdue in 2009-2010).
The presence of JaJuan Johnson and E'Twaun Moore could open up more scoring opportunities for players like Bade, and Purdue will need him to emerge to enjoy a solid campaign without their star.
Another intangible asset, but dealing with this type of adversity has a way of bringing teams together. Hummel was Purdue's biggest player last season and when he was lost in February, the team still found a way to claw all the way to the NCAA Tournament's round of 16.
That type of grit will be much needed in advance of an entire season spent without Hummel, but the players will now have no doubt about their need to step up. This could build a sense of toughness and fortitude among a roster mixed with a few veterans along with high-talent young players.
The young portion of the roster will know adversity from the get-go, and could benefit from playing down a leader and having to rally to tally wins.
I see Purdue having some struggles in Big Ten games against the upper echelon of the conference (Michigan State, Ohio State, etc.), but I still think they will have enough talent on the roster to challenge for the conference title. They still have the talent to approach 20 wins, and should still finish in the top half of the Big Ten conference standings.
Hummel's injury definitely hurts the team's chances for a national title, and I don't see Purdue being able to reach those lofty heights without him. However they are still a quality team with a good mix of returning seniors and incoming freshman, along with a few good returning underclassmen that could be due for breakout seasons.
I see a still solid year for Boilermakers basketball, although losing Robbie Hummel is a serious blow.