- The Washington Times - Friday, March 21, 2008

Robbie Hummel’s pencil box shattered on the ground just seconds after “The Shot” dropped through the net.

Hummel was a third-grader at Cooks Corners Elementary in Valparaiso, Ind., when Valparaiso’s Bryce Drew sank the last-second 3-pointer that lifted the 13th-seeded Crusaders over Mississippi in the opening round of the 1998 Midwest regional. The Purdue freshman remembers it fondly.

“I was so happy that I threw my gray pencil box,” Hummel said shortly after leading Purdue to a 90-79 win over Baylor. “I just chucked it, and it went everywhere. It was a great time in Valpo, and it was real exciting.”

Now it’s Hummel’s turn to experience the thrill of playing in the NCAA tournament. The 6-foot-8, 208-pound swingman cheered for Valpo then — he worked as a ball boy for the Crusaders in elementary school — but Hummel now throws his effort into every Boilermakers win and loss. Hummel’s stats for the first-round win: nine points, four rebounds and one twist of irony. Bryce’s older brother, Scott Drew, coaches Baylor.

“I don’t know Scott as well, but I hear he is a class act,” Hummel said.

Georgia blows lead

Georgia, which won four SEC tournament games to qualify for the NCAAs, squandered an 11-point lead in its first-round loss to Xavier and ended its season at 17-17.

The 14th-seeded Bulldogs went 1-9 during one stretch of the conference season, and coach Dennis Felton’s job was in peril. But the tournament appearance at least sends seniors Sundiata Gaines and Dave Bliss out with an SEC trophy.

“Certainly this one stings a little bit right now, but what we were able to do not only last weekend but the whole season … is something I’ll be proud of forever,” Bliss said. “I hope that our younger guys have learned what it takes — the kind of effort it takes to win at this level and take that forward.”

Gaines led the Bulldogs in scoring, rebounding and assists this season.

“He’s meant a tremendous amount to our program — he’s sort of ushered us through the most difficult period in Georgia basketball history,” Felton said. “He impacted the game in almost every way every night.”

Career game

Purdue freshman JaJuan Johnson scored 10 points, grabbed eight rebounds and collected two blocks in 20 minutes of play off the bench.

“And he took the first charge of his life,” coach Matt Painter said.

Laughter filled the press conference area.

“That’s not a joke,” Painter said.

Johnson was 5-for-9 from the field for the Boilermakers.

“Part of his development has really been halted at times because we have some depth, so I have options of where to go and a lot of that has to do with who we play,” Painter said. “He really did some positive things.”

QUOTABLE

I’m not going to be here, so it doesn’t matter to me. He can have 200 teams if he wants.

Xavier senior Drew Lavender on Bob Knight’s proposition of expanding the tournament field to 128 teams

SCOREBOARD

UP - SCORING

Purdue scores season-high 90 points in the win over Baylor, causing Gene Keady’s hairpiece to stand on end with excitement.

DOWN - STATE OF INDIFFERENCE

An apathetic atmosphere at Verizon Center because of the presence of three football schools, a lack of parking spaces and low blood sugar (concessions ran out of hot dogs halfway through the first game).

DOWN -WEARING DOWN

Georgia’s energy dwindles in the second half after surviving four SEC tournament games and a tornado in four days last week.

BY THE NUMBERS

28 Wins for Xavier this season, tying the 1989-90 team that advanced to the Sweet 16 for the most in school history.

PLAYER OF THE DAY

 Xavier sophomore forward Derrick Brown, whose double-double helped the Musketeers avoid swallowing a double dose of upset misery. Brown scored 19 points and grabbed 11 rebounds to lead the third-seeded Musketeers on a 22-6 second-half run to erase an 11-point deficit over the last 16 minutes and defeat pesky Georgia. Brown nearly doubled his season scoring average of 10.7, shot 78 percent from the field and knocked down four of five free throws.

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