Sunday, December 25, 2011

Mike Bibby

Some times the non-conference schedule reveals a lot about a team. Sometimes it doesn't. The Purdue Boilermakers seem to fall into the latter category. They're 10-3 and they could easily be 15-4 (with wins against Iowa, Minnesota, Penn State, and Illinois and a loss to Wisconsin) in mid-January (though this means that the end of their Big Ten schedule will be tough). There's nothing remarkably impressive about their victories thus far. Half have come over teams with losing records, but also had two nice wins over Temple and Iona, both of whom have a chance at winning their leagues and making the tournament come March. They've played two ranked teams (#15 Alabama and #11 Xavier) and lost to both, as well as 6-7 Butler. They've played one game away from Mackey Arena (at Xavier). According to, they are not in the top 50 nationally for points, rebounds, assists, or field goal percentage, but ESPN doesn't have any way to rank defense and Purdue has always been a defense-oriented team. They're unranked in the polls, but Ken Pomeroy has them at 21. There's nothing about Purdue so far that indicates that they will pose their usual threat to the Big Ten this season. There's nothing that says they won't.

The big story so far this season for Purdue has been the return of Robbie Hummel. Hummel joined Purdue as a true freshman in the 2007-2008 season, during which he was the 2nd leading scorer and the leading rebounder on the team and was a first team All-Big Ten selection. Next season, he was made a co-captain of the team and led in rebounding again during a season when he missed five games due to back spasms and a broken vertebrae. During his junior season, Hummel once again led the team in rebounds and was 2nd in scoring when, on February 24, at Minnesota, he suffered an ACL tear near his right knee. He was once again named a first team All-Big Ten selection, but was forced to miss the NCAA tournament after having a season ending surgery, recuperation for which was supposed to be 4-6 months. Hummel expected to return with fellow teammates Et'Twaun Moore and JaJuan Johnson at the start of their senior season. The first practice of the season, Hummel tore the same ACL and took a medical redshirt.

He returned as a redshirted senior for the 2011-2012 season. Some analysts wondered how he would play after over a year without practice, coming off two knee surgeries. Now they know: very well. Hummel once again leads the team in rebounding (5.9 rpg) and also, for the first time in his career, in scoring (17.5 ppg). He's averaging 31 minutes a game and has the best assist:turnover ratio of his career right now. After almost three injury-plagued seasons, Robbie Hummel has returned for his senior season as a man with a mission: stay healthy and win. Other than a moment at the end of the Xavier game when he collapsed due to dehydration, he has done just that.

I've said the Purdue's fate this season is still uncertain. Robbie Hummel and his health is a huge X-factor in their conference play, but he might not be the only one. Unfortunately, Purdue's schedule thus far hasn't given me a lot to go on as to determining what those other factors could be. Purdue is typically a very dangerous team; this is the first time in four years they came into the season unranked. Their past non-conference schedules are very similar to their schedule this season with similar results. Chances are, Purdue will once again be a competitive team.

Today is the start of the NBA season and the first game today is the New York Knicks vs the Boston Celtics. #20 Mike Bibby is a point guard for the Knicks, who lost 4 out of 5 pre-season games to the Dallas Mavericks. Bibby played college basketball at the University of Arizona and was drafted as the 2nd overall pick in 1998 by the Vancouver Grizzlies. He's since played for Sacramento, Atlanta, Washington, and Miami before joining New York for the 2010-2011 season, where he averaged 28.6 minutes and 8.7 points per game.

So long,
The Sports Nerd

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