In many ways, though, the injury is even worse than that. For Purdue, the loss of Hummel also means the loss of three years of preparation, three years of growth and maturation and coaching and friendship, three years of congealing a top-notch recruiting class into a national power. These juniors -- Hummel, JaJuan Johnson, and E'Twaun Moore especially -- were going to take Purdue to the promised land. An added benefit? That promised land just so happened to be in Indianapolis; if everything went according to plan, the Boilermakers would play their triumphant Final Four in front of a home-state crowd a mere hour south of West Lafayette, Ind. As Pat Forde wrote after Purdue's win over Ohio State on Feb. 17, the three-year slow grind was finally coming together. It was happening. Now it's all gone.
That's not to say Purdue can't still make a run. It can. The Boilermakers are still a very talented team with enough depth in senior Keaton Grant to mask some of what they'll miss in Hummel. Purdue's next few games, including the Big Ten tournament, will be its opportunity to show that to the NCAA tournament selection committee. Purdue still deserves that No. 1 seed. All hope is not lost.
Unfortunately, that won't diminish the disappointment for Purdue or its fans, which runs deeper than any one injury in any one season would. And for anyone interested in seeing the best teams in the country take the floor this March, well, we're disappointed, too.