NCAA: Hummel, MSU Surprising Early
Senior NBA Writer & College Basketball Editor
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Over the last two years no player in college basketball has had worse luck than Purdue’s Robbie Hummel. Back in 2009-2010 he was one of the premier players in the country, likely on his way to becoming a first round pick in the NBA Draft. His Boilermakers were ranked third in the country and poised to go on a deep run in the NCAA Tournament, but he suffered a torn ACL in a late regular season game in Big 10 play against Minnesota.
As unfortunate as Hummel’s injury was, injuries occur on a regular basis in college basketball and all sports for that matter. It’s just comes with the territory of being an athlete and is something that everyone is at risk of. While it was a big setback for Purdue, they held consolation in the fact that Hummel would be back for the 2010-2011 season. Expectations were high as it would be the final run for their big three, which featured 2011 NBA Draft picks E’Twaun Moore and JaJuan Johnson along with Hummel.
Prior to the start of the season, though, the unthinkable happened: Hummel re-tore his ACL. It was a devastating blow to the team and Hummel in particular. He worked so hard to come back and was looking pretty good considering how hard an ACL tear is to recover from. He was forced to watch all season long as Johnson and Moore, two guys who he formed a brotherhood with over their years together, carried the load in their final seasons as Boilermakers. They moved on to the big leagues, while Hummel was left at Purdue with a right knee that many players would use as an excuse to call it a career. Many players, but not Hummel.
There’s no quit in Hummel. Already painfully aware of what is necessary to get back on the court after a torn ACL, he got back to work this summer. Instead of feeling sorry for himself, he looked to make the most of the opportunity to revive his career.
Not only is he back, he’s arguably as good as he was before he tore his ACL twice. He may not be as quick or explosive, and the fear of re-injuring his knee again will probably always linger in the back of his mind, but Hummel is still major factor on the floor.
Through five games, Hummel has helped lead his Boilermakers to a 4-1 record. He’s averaging a team-high 20 points and five rebounds, which is amazing considering everything he’s been through over the past two years.
Hummel exhibits the kind of the heart, determination and passion that makes college sports so incredible. To have the kind of year he’s having after back-to-back ACL tears is simply remarkable, but for those who knew Hummel beforehand it’s not surprising. He’s always been a leader with unquestionable character. His comeback story is already historic and the best part is that it isn’t even finished yet. Hummel is out to accomplish the same things that he wanted to before the injuries. And after what he’s already done, how could you doubt him?
Commending Rick Stansbury
The last year hasn’t been pleasant for Mississippi Bulldogs head coach Rick Stansbury. He’s been heavily questioned for choices both on and off the court and placed on somewhat of a hot seat by the media. He’s responded well this season, though, coaching through all the adversity to lead his team to a 4-1 record and a 2K Sports Classic championship last weekend.
In this week’s poll his Bulldogs made their debut at 24 on the AP Top 25. Somehow they were left out of the coaches’ poll that included Texas A&M and Arizona, who the Bulldogs defeated in the 2K Sports Classic. As long as they maintain their current level of play, it will be impossible for anyone to deny them the respect that they deserve.
Prior to the start of the season it was evident that the Bulldogs had a world full of potential. The big questions were whether or not they were going to be able to develop the proper chemistry and if Stansbury was the right guy coaching them.
It’s still early, but so far the answers to those questions appear to be yes. The Bulldogs are a balanced team that can really hurt you inside and out. In the paint Arnett Moultrie and Renardo Sidney are an intimidating duo that few teams in the country have the size or skill to match up with. Sidney, currently nursing a wrist injury, has yet to really find his groove. Moultrie has been spectacular, though, and really shouldering the load while Sidney works his way into things.
Out on the perimeter Dee Bost has been playing like one of the best guards in the country, putting up 16 points, four rebounds and three assists a night. Freshman Rodney Hood has also lived up to the hype, providing a very efficient 12 points a night on 51% shooting from the field and 41% from distance.
The SEC is going to be a very entertaining league to watch this year. The Kentucky Wildcats, Alabama Crimson Tide, Florida Gators and Vanderbilt Commodores are all very formidable, but the Bulldogs feel like they’re just as good and are looking like a team that should not be slept on.
A Look Around The Country: Here’s a look at some other things that are standing out at the early junction of the 2011-2012 season.
- The Missouri Tigers deserve a lot of credit for the way they are playing without Laurence Bowers, their top post player who tore his ACL during the offseason. They’re off to a 5-0 start and most recently throttled 18th-ranked California 92-53 on Tuesday night. Defense has always been the calling card of the Tigers, but they’re looking like a complete team now with five players averaging double figures. Marcus Denmon leads the charge offensively with 16, while Kim English is also giving them 16 a night. Even without Bowers, this looks like a team who could win the Big 12.
- Speaking of defense, Rick Pitino’s Louisville Cardinals have been stifling as expected this season. They’re giving up just 44 points a night so far, holding Arkansas State to an all-time low 27 points last game out. The best team Louisville has faced so far is a rebuilding Butler squad, but their defense will be tested by Vanderbilt, Memphis and Kentucky before Big East Play gets underway.
- Illinois head coach Bruce Weber knew he was going to have see some serious development out of sophomore center Meyers Leonard if his team was going to have a good year. Leonard has stepped up to the challenge, putting up 13 points and seven rebounds a night. No longer does he look lost and ineffective on the court. He’s a difference maker, especially on the defensive end where he’s swatting 4.5 shots a night. That’s good for fourth in the country, behind UAB’s Cameron Moore, Youngstown’s Damian Eargle and Denver’s Chris Udofia.
- North Carolina’s Kendall Marshall is exceeding the high expectations that were set for him as a floor general. Marshall is amongst the best in the country right now at distributing, dishing out nearly 11 a contest. He definitely benefits from being surrounded by future pros out on the floor, but a 3.6:1 assist-to-turnover ratio is ridiculously impressive no matter what the circumstances are.