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Robbie Hummel

Purdue forward Robbie Hummel, a Valparaiso native, speaks to fans as he is honored on senior night following his final home game in West Lafayette on Wednesday. Purdue defeated Penn State 80-56.

WEST LAFAYETTE | It's been close to three years since Robbie Hummel has played in an NCAA tournament game.

The Purdue University senior and Valparaiso High School graduate, who could only sit on the bench for the past two editions of March Madness because of knee injuries, finally gets another chance to dance Friday.

Brackets were revealed Sunday with the 10th-seeded Boilermakers taking on No. 7 Saint Mary's College at the Midwest Regional in Omaha, Neb.

"It was disappointing to have to sit out, especially with the roll we were on my junior year," Hummel said Sunday in Mackey Arena. "It was frustrating, but it's made this all the more sweet. I'm very excited to be back playing in something I grew up watching. It's something I've worked for the last two years, the culmination of a lot of hard work. I'm excited to go out and make a lasting mark to end my career."

Purdue was on the doorstep of a No. 1 seed late in the 2010 campaign when Hummel crumpled to the floor with a torn ACL at Minnesota's Williams Arena. The Boilermakers reached the Sweet 16, where they lost to Duke University.

Last season, which was supposed to be his senior year alongside E'Twaun Moore and JaJuan Johnson, ended before it even started with a recurrence of the same injury. He sat teary-eyed on the bench in street clothes as Purdue was upset in the second round by Virginia Commonwealth University.

"When you look back, it seems like a long time ago," Purdue coach Matt Painter said of the Sweet 16 loss against the University of Connecticut in the 2009 tourney. "It seems like more than three years. You just want an opportunity for your seniors, especially guys who have been through what Rob's been through, to get another crack."

Hummel, Moore and Johnson were sophomores that season, when the fifth-seeded Boilers got past the University of Northern Iowa, then outlasted the University of Washington, which was practically playing a home game in Portland, Ore.

"That was one of my fondest Purdue memories," Hummel said of the Washington game. "There were like 15 Purdue fans there and 16,000 Washington fans."

Now Hummel, a three-time all-Big Ten selection and a finalist for the Lowe's Senior Class Award, will at long last be back on the court in the postseason.

"I don't feel I have anything to prove," he said. "The team has a lot to prove. We want to have a good showing and get the chance to make a run."


Sports reporter

Jim was keeping standings on his chalkboard from the time he could print and keeping kickball stats in grade school at St. Bridget's. He covers all manner of prep sports for The Times and is a long-suffering Chicago Cubs fan.

Sports Director

Hillary has covered prep, pro and college sports -- and even a Dixie Baseball World Series -- for newspapers north and south of the Mason-Dixon Line since 1995.