Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

THE LONG ROAD BACK; after Two Serious Knee Injuries, Purdue's Hummel Wants to Keep Playing; MEN'S NCAA TOURNAMENT

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

THE LONG ROAD BACK; after Two Serious Knee Injuries, Purdue's Hummel Wants to Keep Playing; MEN'S NCAA TOURNAMENT

Article excerpt

OMAHA, NEB. An ice pack strapped to each knee, Purdue's Robbie Hummel strolled the halls of the CenturyLink Center on Saturday. Yet, despite being encumbered, he walked like someone who had done this many times.

Two years have passed since the senior forward first tore the ACL in his right knee, launching a lengthy ordeal that forced him to miss the NCAA Tournament in 2010 and 2011.

Having recovered from not one but two ACL tears, Hummel wants to extend his career as long as possible. The ice merely helps him get from day to day.

"The first time I got hurt, we were (ranked) third in the country and looking to make a run to the Final Four, " he said. "The second time was to start the season. It was disappointing to miss those runs. I wanted to get back, but there were certainly times I didn't know if I would."

Hummel's pursuit of an extended season will be severely tested tonight when the Boilermakers face Kansas with a trip to the Midwest Regional semifinals in St. Louis on the line.

Hummel might not be as nimble as before, but he has recovered this season to average a career-best 16.1 points, 7.1 rebounds and 32.1 minutes, earning first team All-Big Ten honors for the third consecutive season. Now he's on a mission to enjoy what was taken from him the last two years.

"It's probably the No. 1 story for us since I've been back at Purdue in terms of everything he has had to endure," coach Matt Painter said. "He's had a long road and really didn't get into rhythm in terms of shooting until February and you see offensively his hard work paying off. "

Hummel had a schedule this season in which he practiced for two days and took a day off, usually before a game. But he figured he was in pretty good shape in the team's first exhibition game after he hit the floor hard and bounced back. He has played in every game and scored in double figures in 31 of 34. …

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