OK, it’s not quite Indiana’s birthday. But it’s close. It’s only a few days away. December 11, to be exact. That’s the date Indiana was admitted into the Union in 1816. So we’re celebrating 200 years of being a state!
While there are many things that frustrate me about Indiana, I also have a deep, deep appreciation for the Hoosier State. I will openly criticize my home state, but I will defend Indiana with all my heart if you aren’t a Hoosier and try to say something negative about the State I love. That’s probably a fault of mine. But I’m OK with that because I really do love our state. Honest to goodness.
I have been to many parts of Indiana over the years and here is much to love about our state. As we celebrate Indiana’s 200th birthday, I want to share with you some of the great things that make our state amazing. There really is more than corn in Indiana. There’s also more to this state than a race track. Amazingly enough, there are some people who don’t really care that much about the Indianapolis 500, even though it’s been part of the state’s story for more than 100 years. And although basketball has a pretty special place in our collective consciousness, there’s more to Indiana than just basketball.
Indiana is a special place. And I want to relish in its specialness. So, in celebration of Indiana’s 200th birthday, I’ll be publishing several posts during the month of December that will hopefully remind us how great this state can be. Because that’s what happens when you wander Indiana. You find some great stories. You also find some pretty amazing people and some beautiful scenery. I hope these things are reflected in our journey through the Hoosier State. I also hope that I’m able to figure out a way to share a heapin’ helping of Hoosier Hospitality as we wander through the state together.
There’s been a spike in traffic to my site. I guess you could call it a March Madness spike? I don’t know what to call it. It should probably be something catchy because it happens every year during the NCAA tournament. This year, however, saw a much larger increase in traffic to posts about one topic in particular. It’s probably because of UCLA’s return to the Sweet 16 for the first time since 2008. During the month of March, people stumble upon my blog because of this song:
Stevie Shoot a Three Pointer
Apparently I’m not the only person who remembers this song. I’m not the only one who loved this song. I’m not the only one who wants to hear the song again. Because a lot of people searched for it this March.
It used to be online. I even linked to it. But now it has disappeared. I’m sorry if you’ve stumbled upon my blog in an effort to find the song. I’ll do what I can to find another copy of it. And when I do, I’ll be sure to share it again for all the world to hear when they start searching for it again next March.
I think I can finally talk about this. It’s been a week now. The pain has definitely subsided. Sunday certainly helped ease the pain.
Kevin and I were able to go watch the Hoosiers play at Illinois, thanks to my uncle Dale.
This game was a lot of firsts for me:
First time I’ve ever been to a college basketball game outside of Indiana or Tennessee.
First time I’ve been to the other Assembly Hall. It was a nice venue. Obviously, I didn’t think it had the history of a Hinkle Fieldhouse or the Assembly Hall, but I don’t think there’s a bad seat in the house. We were as high as you could go in the bowl and we had a pretty good view. It had a feeling similar to the old Rock Roberts days with the Aces. Of course, there’s a larger capacity at Champaign. And they got pretty loud. Would’ve been much louder if everyone in their sellout crowd showed up. I saw quite a few empty seats.
First time I’ve been to an away game for the Hoosiers.
First time I’ve been to a game that involved a team ranked #1 in the nation.
Yes, it was also the first time I’ve witnessed a student section storm the court. And honestly? I wasn’t that impressed. I was kind of expecting a tidal wave of orange surge onto the court, similar to one of my favorite memories. After all, I’ve heard over and over that Illinois fans hate Indiana. I really didn’t experience any of that hatred, but I’ll talk about that more in a minute.
You probably can’t tell from this picture, but this is the post-game celebration. There’s a lot of basketball court that’s visible. It’s nothing like the sea of red seen here.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m not being critical. Just making an observation. And it still hurt to watch. Not because I really care about Illinois all that much, especially now that Bruce Weber’s gone (although the way they treated Eric Gordon left a pretty sour taste in my mouth). In fact, most of the fans were quite cordial to us. The two older gentlemen reached over and shook our hands after the game. Obviously, they didn’t learn anything from their previous coach. But I digress…The fans weren’t nearly as hostile as I imagined they would be.
Well…OK. There was this one guy who started chanting at us as we left the game.
But I didn’t. That probably would’ve gotten me in trouble. I was, however, surprised that I didn’t hear a chorus of “over-rated” being chanted throughout the building. Maybe everyone was just too much in shock.
I know I was. And so were a bunch of other Hoosiers faithful. On the way home, we stopped at the first Arby’s on the Indiana side of I-74. Some guys were already in there and we could tell they had gone to the game. They were wearing red. Their voices were a little scratchy. And their eyes communicated the same thing that we felt: shellshock. Even an hour later.
Then another group of people came in. They had the same expressions while wearing their candy-striped pants. All of us had gone to the game. All of us were still in a haze because of how things had fallen apart. Unfortunately, we could all see it coming. And there wasn’t anything we could do about it except watch in horror.
For the next 36 hours, I saw that stupid shot go in every time I closed my eyes. It haunted me. It mocked me. It taunted me. Gave me nightmares.
While this game my first for a lot of different things, I’m sorry to say that this is not the first time I’ve watched Indiana lose to a team they should have beaten because of a last-second shot. I have been to a total of four IU games in my lifetime. Of those four, three have been losses. Two were on last-second shots. That other last-second shot hurt to watch, too. The silver lining? I guess I should be happy I saw some pretty exciting games.
I’d rather say I saw a blowout. I’m fully expecting that the next time I get to go to a game.
If not, I just might have to swear off going to Indiana games altogether. Because I don’t want to be part of the problem. I want to be part of the solution. And so maybe not attending games is how I’ll wind up fighting for the Cream and Crimson for the glory of Old IU.
Then again, maybe I saw the last loss of IU’s season. That would be something kind of special, wouldn’t it?
We’ll just have to wait and see, I guess. March Madness is just around the corner and I can’t wait to see what happens!
It still stings that Indiana isn’t playing KY during the season this year. It feels a little bit better that the team that replaced IU on the schedule was Baylor. You know – the team that broke KY’s home win-streak. Maybe it’s a case of “be careful what you wish for,” if Calipari truly was concerned about protecting his team’s home court winning streak. While I will always enjoy watching KY struggle, I would rather see these two teams play each other as the powerhouses they should be. I think it’s great for Indiana. And it’s great for college basketball. You know – like Luke vs. Emperor Palpatine is great for film. And I’ve been saying this for years.
Longing for the day when IU/UK rivalry isn't so one-sided anymore & actually means something to both teams and their fans. Soon. Very soon.
I hear Coach Cal says he wanted to play IU at Lucas Oil Stadium this season because he wants to create “experiences” (as if an electric Assembly Hall or Rupp Arena isn’t a magical experience). Well….Lucas Oil is hosting the Midwest Regional this year.
I recently uncovered this poem. I wrote it as part of an assignment in 8th grade. I think this is the first poem I ever wrote. While not exactly historically accurate, I think it captures some of the iconic images from that era.
Assembly Hall rocks with noise As the crowd cheers for Indiana’s Boys. Cheaney lets a three-pointer fly And Knight’s sweater is rolled about chest-high They cherish the thrill of victory As IU beats Michigan 73-70
I cannot, however, continue with this blog without sharing these three amazing videos. The first one still gives me chills. It makes me want to rush the court in our Living Room, like Aiden and I may or may not have done when we first watched the shot go in.
The other two videos? Just hilarious.
To my friends and family who are big fans of KY, I’m sorry. To everyone else…
It’s finally time for college basketball season. And I’m excited about the prospects of this year’s Hoosiers team. The I’m glad they’re building on the tradition, but not just dwelling there. After all, tradition doesn’t win ballgames.
And the future? It’s getting brighter all the time. Of course, it can’t get much darker than it was just a couple of years ago – can it?