by Robbie Hummel (as told to Thomas Golianopoulos)
After sitting out almost two years, it’s good to get back to doing what I love. Five-on-five was the last thing approved, and we’ve had some renovations here at Purdue so I had to wait a little bit longer to play five-on-five because we don’t have a court right now. We’ve been playing in the volleyball area. We’re almost in full swing here, and practice is right around the corner. Most guys don’t look forward to practice, but after sitting out for so long, it’s something I’m definitely looking forward to.
The exercises were mostly the same the second time around; it’s just that the time table was slowed down. I lifted weights [for my] lower body a lot more the second time around. The first time, I had tendonitis in my left knee and it was hard to do some of that. But this time, I had the graft taken from my right knee, which was the same knee I tore my ACL in, so I didn’t have that problem. I think that’s helped me tremendously because I have much stronger legs this time around.
My friends and family have always been there for me, and I’ve had a great support system through all this. I’ve wanted to play in the NBA since I was 2 years old, so that’s always motivated me. And I just love playing college basketball; it’s probably the best sport in the world. Just the adrenaline of playing all those big games, it’s been easy to stay motivated. Home games are great, but you can’t beat winning on the road. It’s fun to go out there and get booed by 18,000. And it’s also fun to leave the floor and have them not saying anything.
You can pick up some new tricks while watching from the bench, especially when you got good players on the court. And we were fortunate to have two guys who are in the NBA now—E’Twaun Moore and JaJuan Johnson. So I’d watch them every day in practice.
It’s kind of a weird feeling to go up for a rebound or jump up and do a real explosive move. It’s kind of weird because you haven’t done it in so long, but once you do it, it’s one of those things where it’s like, OK, I can do this. Every time I step on the court, I get more comfortable and just get better out there. Every time I’ve been out there, I’ve improved in a major way.
I think I’m improved in the post. I think if I have guards guarding me on the perimeter, I’ll be able to take them inside. I attribute that to just picking up on some things by watching basketball and from the improved strength in my legs. I’m moving equally as good as before, and I’m finally getting back to the point where I can play at a high level.
You got guys like DeJuan Blair and they’ve persevered through injuries and gone through a lot to get to the NBA, but I’m really just concerned about this season. I think that as long as we play well and I play up to my potential, everything will fall into place. It’ll be a challenge for us to step up, but I see no reason why we’re not in the upper echelon.
photos courtesy of Purdue Athletics