Aiden’s return to Assembly Hall

Return to Assembly Hall

A few weeks ago, Aiden and I braved the cold and trekked down to Bloomington for the annual Solo & Ensemble Festival. His first performance was scheduled at 8-ish in the morning, which is an ungodly time for a Saturday morning. That meant we had to get up well before the sun in order to arrive in time for him to warm up and perform with his ensemble.

His solo was 15 minutes after his ensemble performance. Then we did what he had been looking forward to all along: We went to Assembly Hall. Last year, we “snuck” onto the football field. Not this time. Too chilly. But he had a memorable experience inside the hallowed Hall of hoops.

The women’s basketball team had a game that afternoon. So they were prepping the facility for the game. The smell of popcorn filled the air as we stepped onto the court. They already had the scoreboard fired up and ready to go.

It was pretty awesome. I think Aiden found it a bit awe-inspiring. I showed him where some recruits have been known to sit during their official on-campus visits. He sat down and said, “I want to sit here someday. As a recruit.”

Dude’s gonna have to get in some serious practicing in order for that to happen. But that’s not exactly a bad thing. And he’s not a stranger to the roundball.

Got an assist on this play

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After getting his fill of Assembly Hall, there was one more place we needed to stop before heading home. It was time for lunch. So we had to stop at Nick’s. Because you can’t get much better than Nick’s. Except maybe game day at Nick’s. We each had the stromboli. And it was fabulous.

Aiden’s still not very happy with me for going to that basketball game without him back in November. I think this trip did help butter him up just a little bit. And who knows? After getting swept by Nebraska, it’s highly unlikely that the Hoosiers are going to make it into the NCAA tournament. Unless, of course, they have some type of miraculous run in the Big Ten tournament. And unless they only play ranked teams during this tournament, it’s highly unlikely that they’ll make a run. So there might still be a chance for him to go an IU home game this March. You could say that’s a small silver lining to the potential of maybe hosting postseason tournament game.

Maybe.

Oh – and the Solo & Ensemble Festival? Aiden got two gold medals.

Yup. He’s pretty talented. He gets his musicianship from me. Just don’t tell his momma. 😉

Aiden’s Big Bloomington Adventure

We drove to Bloomington yesterday for Aiden’s first-ever participation in Solo and Ensemble. We had a little bit of extra time after his performance, so I took him over to the athletic facilities at IU. My original hope was that Cook Hall would be open and we’d be able to take a quick tour of the shrine contained within. Unfortunately, Cook Hall is only open to the public from 8 to 5, Monday thru Friday. Since this was a Saturday, we were out of luck. That didn’t stop us from putting our faces to the glass in an attempt to see the national championship trophies. We did manage to see hints of a couple, but didn’t get to bask in their glory as I had hoped.

Somewhat disappointed, we walked over to Assembly Hall. Since we had already checked the doors, we knew we wouldn’t be able to go in. But that didn’t stop us from pressing our faces against the glass again. This time we caught glimpses of the Hall of Fame. As we were still peering through the entrances and about to walk to my car, an SUV pulls up. The driver gets out with two young boys and walks towards the back of his vehicle to get out a Big Wheel and a small bicycle.

“Hold on,” he says to us, “I’ll let you in.”

Um….

…..

what!?!

I realize visiting Assembly Hall might not be a big deal to people in Bloomington. This, however, was a big deal to us. It was an especially huge deal to Aiden. I thought he was going to explode from excitement as we entered the hallowed hall of hoops. I thanked the gentleman as he took his boys up the ramp with their bikes. What a perfect place to have your kids ride their bikes!

We walked around the outer rim of the Hall, looking at the artifacts and occasionally checking the doors to see if we could see Branch McCracken Court.

Indiana University Athletic Hall of Fame at Assembly HallI finally found a door that was closed, but wasn’t locked. I let Aiden peek his head in. From the look on his face, you would’ve thought I had just witnessed a game-winning shot. We didn’t go in, though. We weren’t sure if we were allowed to go in or not. And since the door was really closed and there were people working on the court, we decided to keep walking around.

But then we found it. Doors were propped wide open. It was almost like it was a sign from God that we should enter. Being one who wants to answer God’s call, we walked into the seating area of Assembly Hall.

Inside Indiana University's Assembly Hall

Banners at Indiana University's Assembly Hall

I think this one with his silhouette against the court is one of his favorites:

Aiden and Branch McCracken Court at Indiana University's Assembly Hall

After hanging out for a while, we decided it was time to see if we could find a way to walk on the court. So we began our quest. As we were walking around, we were greeted by one of the Track and Field coaches. He asked if we needed help with anything. I asked him if there were places we were not allowed to enter. “They do a pretty good job of locking up the places they don’t want you to go.”

There you go. Permission granted to walk on the court (as long as there were no locks in our way).

So we did.

Aiden and the 5 National Championship banners hanging at Indiana University

Branch McCracken Court at Indiana University's Assembly Hall

“That’s it! Right there! That’s where Christian Watford made that shot. Watford for the win!!”….

After hanging out on the court for a while, we decided we shouldn’t push our luck. It was time to leave. But the adventure wasn’t over. No. It was far from it.

Remembering that they lock things up when they don’t want people to go in, we walked through the gates to the football stadium.

Indiana University's Memorial StadiumThis was my first visit to Memorial Stadium. It’s a pretty cool facility. We took a while to look around and soak it all in.

Checking out Memorial Stadium at Indiana University

The giant scoreboard at Indiana University's Memorial Stadium

The Rock at Memorial Stadium at Indiana University

Yes. That’s The Rock in the background. No. We didn’t go touch it. I figured he needed to save that special occasion for when he plays his first game for IU. That’s right. I might have unintentionally gotten him to verbally commit to playing both basketball and football for the Hoosiers. Sorry, Christy. We have a lot of work to do if we’re going to convince him to go to Milligan now.

Standing on the football field at Indiana University's Memorial StadiumSo what started off as a not-so-fruitful visit to Cook Hall turned into a pretty memorable experience for Aiden (and for me, too). It definitely made the trip to Bloomington worth it!

Now he’s begging me to take him to a basketball game. And a football game. Of course, I’d love to be able to do that. Might take a while to be able to make it happen though.

Oh…

did I mention how he did in his Solo and Ensemble performance?

Aiden and his gold medal from Solo and Ensemble He earned a GOLD. He also had some pretty big compliments from the judge. Not too shabby, huh?

Not sure if we’ll be able to match this weekend any time soon. But I’d sure like to try!

Pregame at Assembly Hall

IU & Michigan State warming up before the game

Much like my experience the first time at Hinkle Fieldhouse, you can’t help but feel the history once you walk in to Assembly Hall. The place just oozes tradition out of every corner. It even oozes up from the floor.

Fred Glass has added some new “traditions” to the Assembly Hall landscape, including some props for the fans to wave behind the opponent’s basket during free throws. As the guy was making his rounds through our bleachers before the game, my cousin asked if she could have one.

She got what she wished for. They gave her a Big Head. Yes, she achieved her ultimate dream. It’s all downhill from here, Amanda.

There was one small problem. We had no idea who she was. Any guesses? Go ahead. Take a shot in the comments section. If no one gives the correct answer, I’ll share it later on in the comments.

We were quite jealous of the guy behind us. He got an Eric Gordon Big Head.

Did you know that Eric Gordon is really a pirate? Aarrrrgh!

Couldn’t get the right angle on the picture. This was the only one that wasn’t completely washed out by the glare. Guess they’re shiny for a reason, huh?

Apparently, Blues Clues and Clifford are big Hoosiers fans. Who knew?
Apparently, Blue's Clues and Clifford are big Hoosiers fans. Who knew?

Earlier, I lamented the fact that John Mellencamp wasn’t at the game. He wasn’t the only person who wasn’t in attendance. I know that Pat Graham wasn’t in his seats, either. How do I know? Because Jason and Kara had his seats. Apparently, Kara has connections and got them for Jason for Christmas. She sounds like a keeper, Jason! 🙂

Once the pregame ceremonies were over, it was time to get down to business.

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more about “Kyle Taber – Senior Night :: 026.flv …“, posted with vodpod

By the way, what is the name of that song? And is there an arena in the country that doesn’t play it before a game? It seems like it’s everywhere!

Not-so-close Encounters at Assembly Hall

My cousin Jason and his girlfriend, Kara, with their friend, Kyle Taber.
My cousin Jason and his girlfriend, Kara, with their friend, Kyle Taber.

Well, I didn’t run into Calbert Cheaney.

Bummer.

I did get to shake hands with Kyle Taber and his dad.

I also walked on Robert Montgomery Knight …er… Branch McCracken Court. Now that’s a memorable encounter. Talk about history!

Tom Crean
Tom Crean

I saw a lot of people I recognized – celebrities in Hoosier Nation.  I wasn’t quite quick enough to stick my hand out as Tom Crean walked by after the festivities were over. So I took his picture instead.

I also just missed running into Fred Glass, the Athletic Director. He ducked into a restricted area just as I was catching up with him. I wanted to thank him for all he’s done already for the Hoosiers program and wish him well as he continues to guide the Athletics Department. Oh well.

Maybe he’ll read it on this blog. 🙂

I thought they said Crean couldn’t recruit the Big Man. Seven feet sounds awfully big to me!

We also spotted future-Hoosier, Bawa Muniru, in the crowd. Seeing as how an unintentional extra phone call to Muniru caused IU to issue a self-imposed one-week ban on placing phone calls to any recurits, I certianly hope this guy lives up to the hype.

But if nothing else, he is definitely tall. And he is a sharp-dressed young man, too. Although he might want to avoid the blue shirt/red tie combination. I’m just sayin’.

Is that Brian Evans in the collared shirt?
Brian Evans?

I’m pretty sure this was Brian Evans in the crowd, too. He had to bail at halftime because he had a little girl (maybe five years old?) with him. I’m sure it was getting close to bed time.

Our seats were somewhat close to the John Mellencamp’s seats. Unfortunately, much to my cousin’s disappointment, he was nowhere to be found that night.

Bob Knight & Assembly Hall

Assembly Hall
Assembly Hall

I don’t know if he’s still doing it, but for a very long time, Dick Vitale was relentlessly calling for IU to rename Assembly Hall to Robert Montgomery Knight Assembly Hall. Nevermind the fact that the school usually doesn’t name facilities after someone until after that person has died. And although Knight has retired from coaching, he’s far from dead.

Knight brought three of these five banners to Bloomington
Knight brought three of these five banners to Bloomington

I think there was also a time that Vitale lobbied for the court to be named after Knight, similar to Coach K Court at Cameron Indoor. But the court has already been named after Branch McCracken.

Strike two.

The thing is, Knight already has a lasting legacy at Assembly Hall. And I’m not talking about the three NCAA Championship banners that hang from the rafters there.

Here’s a hint:

If I remember correctly, Tom Crean even tried to pick up a chair this season during one of the games where the officiating was especially terrible.

He couldn’t.

Why? Because of Knight’s lasting legacy at Assembly Hall.

If you look closely at the chairs, you’ll notice that they are essentially tied together and bolted to the floor.

Why don’t they just name it the Robert Montgomery Knight Team Bench? Maybe Mr. Vitale could start lobbying for this name-change. It would be a fitting tribute, don’t you think?

And I’m only half-joking.

I tried to get a close-up of the chain running through the chairs on the floor.
I tried to get a close-up of the ‘chain’ running through the chairs on the floor.

On a somewhat related note, does anyone remember a song that was played on the radio during IU’s 1987 tournament run that had the line, “Come on, Bobby Knight, throw some chairs tonight. And Stevie, shoot a three-pointer!”? I’ve looked all over for a recording of that.

“Ky-uhl Ta-ber!” (Clap! Clap! Clap-clap-clap!)

Kyle Tabers Jersey
Kyle Taber's Jersey

Wow! What a game last night! My voice is still recovering from yelling so much. I have several pictures and videos to share, but it’s a busy day for me and I haven’t had the time to upload all of the pictures I’d like to share. I was glad to be able to be there for Senior Night, celebrating Kyle Taber’s career as a Hoosier.

Here’s Kyle Taber and Jeremiah Rivers in the middle of the Hoosiers squad, immediately after the starting lineup introductions.

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more about “Kyle Taber – Senior Night :: 025.flv …“, posted with vodpod

The crowd was a little subdued during the first half of the game, riminiscent of the Knight-era home games. That all changed once the under-eight-minute media time out occurred. The IU flags came out (with Taber’s mom carrying one of the flags). Then Izzo got a technical foul and the Hoosiers tried to make an amazing comeback. It literally felt like we were trying to will these guys to a win. It didn’t happen. But it certainly was fun!

The video doesn’t even begin to capture how loud it was at Assembly Hall. It was amazing!