So long, Knight.

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Bobby Knight

That’s right. I just referred to The General, former Coach Bob Knight, by just his last name. It’s quite daring of me to do so as I sit at my laptop at home. If I called him by his last name while standing face to face, I’d be in trouble. He’d probably allegedly grab my arm and inform me how I should address him.

I’m addressing him because it’s finally time to say what I’ve been thinking for a long time. Hopefully, he wouldn’t choke me when I say this.

“So long, Knight.”

I was a huge fan of Bob Knight’s when he coached at Indiana. I celebrated when he slammed the phone during the NCAA tournament game. While I was confused when he took his Indiana team off the floor in the middle of the game against the Soviets, I was confident he knew what he was doing. I marveled at the plan The General had put into place in order to neutralize Shaq when the Hoosiers took on LSU in the tournament. Oh, and Ivan Renko? Genius. Pure genius. Continue reading “So long, Knight.”

Father’s Day ideas for an Indiana fan

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In 49 states, it’s just basketball. But this is Indiana. We take basketball (and other sports) pretty seriously. And if your dad is a fan of Indiana like I am, you might be wondering what to get for him this Father’s Day.

I’m sure he’s going to love one of these suggestions.


Here are 16 Father’s Day ideas for the Indiana fan in your life:

Title Fathers Day Gift Guide - Indiana

Continue reading “Father’s Day ideas for an Indiana fan”

Dear friends in the Carolinas, I'm sorry I have to dislike you today

Beat Carolina

Growing up, there were only a few times that I remember actually cheering for the Tar Heels. I cheered for them when they played the “Fab Five” in the national championship game.

I really couldn’t stand Michigan so I was pretty happy when that happened. Because sports can make strange bedfellows and the opponent of your opponent is your friend. That’s why I will also cheer for Carolina when they’re playing Duke or KY.

This causes a little bit of tension in our house. If you’re a long-time reader, you might remember that Aiden played rec league basketball a decade ago. They wore powder blue. And they were the Tar Heels.

He’s been a fan of North Carolina ever since he played for the Tar Heels. But even he, a die-hard Carolina fan, understands that there are allegiances and there are allegiances . And the Hoosiers trump almost all other teams.

So I’m sorry, friends. If you live in North Carolina, I might have to dislike you. It’s just for a few hours. I’m sure you understand. And I wouldn’t be surprised if you felt the same way.

After all, the Hoosiers ended Michael Jordan’s short college carreer when they upset UNC in the Sweet 16. And Isiah and crew also upended the Tar Heels to win the national championship.

And since we’re talking about teams from Carolina, there’s another blue team just down the road from UNC. And although this really doesn’t have anything to do with the Tar Heels, I just have to share this. It’s one of my favorite IU memories.

But that’s neither here nor there at this point. We’re donning or Cream and Crimson and staying up late to cheer for Indiana.

Go Hoosiers! Beat UNC!

Dear Indiana Basketball,

I just have one request for the Cream and Crimson today. And I think it’s a pretty common request from basketball fans around the country: Beat Kentucky.

So I crafted a well-reasoned, passionate, and motivating post for the Hoosiers squad as they take the floor today.

Beat Kentucky

I don’t think I’m asking too much.

Do it for Indiana. Do it for the glory of old IU (“IU!“).

Do it for the fans.

Do it for yourselves.

Do it for your coach.

Do it for me.

Do it for the rest of college basketball. I’m pretty sure they’ll be joining us in cheering for you. You’re bringing the world together like few other organizations can.

And my kids. Don’t forget about my kids. In fact…

Do it for the children! ALL of them!

Do it for world peace. And puppies. You like puppies, don’t you? They’ll be happy if you win. Do it for them. And rainbows. And sugar plumb fairies.

Just get the job done. Please. Pretty please. With whipped cream and a cherry and chocolate sprinkles on top. Unless you like rainbow sprinkles. Then we’ll top it with rainbow sprinkles.

And thank you.

Go Hoosiers!
Beat Kentucky!

It’s just the right thing to do.

No pressure. Just have fun. And do your best. Because, as I keep telling my kids, it’s important to do your best and have fun. That’s the real reason we play sports. So play your hearts out today.

Oh, and beat Kentucky. That is all.

Reggie Wayne, Walter McCarty, and tough decisions for this fan

Thank You Reggie Wayne
The scoreboard at Bankers Life Fieldhouse that said “Thank you, Reggie!” during a timeout got the loudest ovation of the night (April 2015). Sorry the photo’s kind of blurry. I wasn’t ready for the picture and had to act quickly.

I’ve been in this situation before. Kind of.

You see, Walter McCarty went to my high school. There’s a chance you might know who he is, but he was a big stinkin’ deal. He was a basketball superstar – a beast in the paint. Couldn’t hit an outside shot to save his life, but that was forgivable. After all, he led our high school to our first ever Sectional Championship in boys’ basketball. If you have any connection with the state of Indiana, you know how big of a deal this was – especially in the era before class basketball.

I grew up on the banks of the Ohio in the Pocket City, right at the border between Indiana and Kentucky. The rivalry between IU and KY fans is especially heated in that region. So when our beloved #40 chose to play college ball for Rick Pitino down the road in Lexington, it was a big deal. A BIG. deal. I understand that Pitino ran a clean program while leading the Wildcats. But that didn’t really matter. McCarty had chosen to leave his Hoosier homeland and play for a program that had a reputation for cheating.

I understand his reasoning. He saw it as his best opportunity. And it ultimately made him a more well-rounded player. He wanted to learn how to shoot outside. I appreciate that. I really do. But, man, an inside-outside McCarty/Cheaney combo at IU would’ve been awful lethal against any team that came their way. So at the time of his decision, it felt like he was just taking his thumb and sticking it right in the collective eye of the state of Indiana. An Indiana kid choosing to play hoops at KY over any school in the state of Indiana? That’s borderline anathema.

As a fan, I found myself in between the proverbial rock and a hard place. I desperately wanted my high school classmate* of mine do well. It’s just part of taking pride in your Alma Mater. I mean, can you say that Scott Studwell, Calbert Cheaney, and Walter McCarty went to your high school? Well, unless you went to mine, you can’t. If #40 had chosen any other school to play for, I wouldn’t have had any problem cheering for him whatsoever.

But he chose Kentucky.

I was raised right. My Daddy was, too. If  I ever cheered for the Wildcats out of Lexington, KY, I know my grandpa would roll over in his grave. Shoot. He’d probably do more than that. I’m sure he’d find a way to haunt my dreams for the rest of my life.

This loyalty runs deep. It’s in my blood. Our family’s passion for the Cream and Crimson probably borders on hysteria.**

So I tried to walk this fine line of wishing Walter McCarty well and hoping that he’d be successful as an individual player. But I was also hoping against hope that his team would lose every game by 40+ points. In fact, I really wouldn’t have been disappointed at all if he was the only player on his team to score any points during his college career.

Of course, that didn’t happen.

McCarty’s Cats were good. Very good. And Walter was a pretty good player, too. So it kind of got tougher to root for him as his college career progressed. But I tried. Except that one time. He hit a game-winning shot. Against my Hoosiers.

From outside.

You might call it poetic. I call it ripping open a wound and pouring rubbing alcohol all over it and then covering it with salt.

You know, the more I think about it, the more I realize that I really didn’t pay much attention to Walter McCarty’s college career after that game. I guess he was dead to me until he joined the NBA.

So what does this have to do with Reggie Wayne?

Reggie Wayne's autograph

Quite a bit, actually.

I mean, I didn’t go to school with Reggie. He’s not even from Indiana, originally. But this community embraced him. And he embraced our community. Both inside and outside of football, Reggie Wayne did a lot of good♠ as an Indianapolis Colt. We’re big “Weggie Wayne” fans in our household.

I get that there’s really no real loyalty in the NFL when it comes to teams and players. I get that it’s a “what have you done for me lately?” league. So I understand that the Colts made a business decision to cut #87. I don’t like it. But I understand it.

Business is business, after all.

Because of that, I understand that Reggie wants to keep playing. I understand that there are only so many teams who would be interested in a veteran player who is probably looking at the twilight of his career.

Business is business, after all.

But the Patriots? Come on, Reggie. It’s like Walter McCarty choosing the Wildcats all over again. He chose to go to a team with a reputation of cheating. And they’re the team Indy fans love to hate the most. I can’t help but think that Reggie was sticking his thumb in the collective eye of central Indiana when he signed along the dotted line.

It’s going to be hard, but I guess I’ll have to go ahead and cheer for #15. I hope he makes a bunch of  catches and has a lot of touchdowns. But I also hope the Patriots lose each game by an average of 50+ points. But if he makes a game-winning catch against the Colts? His name shall be banned from our house for at least the next decade.

Wait…

What?

You mean Reggie Wayne is no longer a Patriot?

Whew.

That was close. There’s no way I could’ve cheered for him in a Patriots jersey.

I feel bad that he’s not with a team now. But I know I’ll cheer for him and be happy for him if he signs with any other team. Promise. I’ll probably even chant “Reg-gie, Reg-gie, Reg-gie!” if he returns to Indianapolis. There’s no way I could’ve done that if he was with New England.

Thank you, Reggie.

*OK, I never had any classes with him. He was a couple of years older than me. But I definitely saw him in the hallways. And watched him play ball. So that counts as a classmate. Right?
**Just so we’re clear, that’s Hoosier Hysteria.
♣ I just read that article again. And yes, it got me a little misty-eyed. Again.

March and basketball go together like peanut butter and jelly

The playoffs begin for the over-30 basketball league Aug. 4 at the fitness center here. The championship game is scheduled to take place Aug. 10 at the fitness center gym here.
High school tournaments are in full swing. Student athletes are delivering heartfelt speeches on Senior Nights. Conference tournaments have started. Selection Sunday is just around the corner. Some upsets have already happened. Congratulations, Illinois State, for knocking off the Shockers today. The ball will soon be tipped for that One Shining Moment. And people are talking like coaches will gladly jump from the NBA to coach the Cream and Crimson. I think they’re dreaming, by the way. But that’s a different post for a different time. Maybe. I’m not sure I have the energy to get involved in the argument. Let’s just say that I think it’s a pretty bold assumption that it would happen.

They’re all signs that March has begun, my friends. And I can’t be any happier. This is, without a doubt, the most wonderful time of the year. I love all things about this season. And it’s even more special this year because, once again, our fair city is hosting the men’s Final Four and there are all kinds of fun festivities planned for that weekend. We’ll be there. Shoot, we might even wear some candystripes since it’s highly unlikely that our beloved Hoosiers will be wearing theirs on the court come game time that weekend.

Ah, March and basketball.

It goes together like cheese and crackers
Like socks and shoes
Like biscuits and gravy
Like parsley, sage, rosemary, and thyme
Like R2D2 and C3PO
Like peanut butter and jelly.

It’s March. And it’s full of hysteria, insanity, and wall to wall basketball. And I love every minute of it.

Because in 49 states, it’s just a game. But this is Indiana. And we love our basketball. We love it so much that I think Thursday and Friday of opening weekend should be declared a state holiday. Shoot. Let’s make it a Federal holiday. I mean, come on, it’s not like anyone with a desk job is working when these games are on. So why not go ahead and give everyone those days off so we can celebrate the greatness of college basketball in March?

Come on. You know you like the idea. It fits. Like peanut butter and jelly. Then you we can watch basketball, basketball, and more basketball.

That just might be heaven on earth. Wouldn’t it?

‘Stevie Shoot a Three Pointer’ – My apologies

Steve Alford image via AP

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Steve Alford image via AP
This AP image is from NWITimes.com

Indiana Hoosiers gear at Fanatics.comThere’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.

In case you had forgotten, this song generated some controversy when local stations played it on the radio.

Indiana Hoosiers gear at Fanatics.com

Stevie Shoot a Three Pointer is such a great piece of local sports and radio history. I sure hope I can find a copy of it again.

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

A post shared by Matt Todd (@mattdantodd) on

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. 😉

Middle school, court storming, and the Grumpy Old Man

Me in middle schoolAs I remember it, our middle school basketball team was pretty good. When I was in sixth grade (or possibly seventh, but I’m pretty sure it was sixth), one of our teams played for a championship. I assume it’s the city championship. And I’m pretty sure it was the prep team, not our Varsity team, but those details don’t really matter all that much in the grand scheme of things, honestly.

I went to the game. I think I arrived late. I wore my white Plaza Park polo-type shirt (the very one I’m wearing in this official sixth grade picture, by the way), and sat in a seat that wasn’t very close to the student section.

The Plaza Park Pacers dominated the game and it was apparent that we were going to win the championship. After the final buzzer sounded, several people from the front rows of the student section rushed onto the court in celebration. I, however, did not participate. Looking back, I wish I had.

Until last year’s Illinois game, that was the only time I’d witnessed a student section storm the court. I’ve been to a lot of college basketball games over the years. I’ve even been to a good amount of high school games. I don’t remember having an opportunity to storm the court. In reality, it’s a pretty rare event.

There’s been a lot made about what happened in Assembly Hall a couple of nights ago after the Hoosiers upset an undefeated Wisconsin Badgers team. Fans stormed the court.

And people went nuts.

There was a time that I would have gone nuts about this. In fact, I did so on this very post several years ago. But as I was listening to all these Indiana fans call into the local sports shows complain about how a third-ranked Wisconsin team wasn’t worthy of a court-storming, I realized how much these guys merely sounded like Dana Carvey’s Grumpy Old Man.

While no one actually said this, this is how I heard it: “We never stormed the court. We sat on down and clapped politely like it was golf. And if we did think about storming the court, we’d be forced to walk home across hot coals, uphill, both ways, in the snowy rain tornado storm. That’s the way it was. And we liked it! Flobble-dee-flee!

Thinking back to how I missed out on storming the court in middle school, listening to Grumpy Old IU Fans call in made me realize that I would’ve totally stormed the court Tuesday night if I was a student at IU. I know this is a fundamental change for me, but I’d much rather err on the side of having fun and making a memory than sounding like Grumpy Old IU Fan later in life. After all, it behooves us to live!

Grumpy Old IU Fans weren’t the only people bothered by the court-storming, though.

Storm the Court Poll

I get it. KY fans say they think it’s beneath them to storm the court when their “40-0” team wins. They can puff out their chests and talk about how that makes them elite. They’re better than anyone else. After all, they’re “everyone’s Super Bowl” (I’ll have to address this phrase some other time). But there’s another reason they won’t storm the court…

While BCS conferences typically leave it to host schools to manage postgame celebrations, the Southeastern Conference fines its members when fans storm the court. The fines range from $5,000 for the first offense, $25,000 for the second and $50,000 for a third.
AP: March 1, 2013
(emphasis mine)

That’s right. The SEC has banned storming the court. Maybe this practice is beneath them. But then again, maybe they just aren’t allowed to do it. Or maybe KY is so bent out of shape because they’re still embarrassed about this one time they rushed the field of play.

I can see how this would be a sore spot in their storied athletics department. KY fan doesn’t like it? Good. All the more reason for me to fully support IU fans storming the court. I just ask that they keep two things in mind as they’re getting ready to run onto the hardwood:

  1. If you’re gonna rush the court, rush onto the court. Don’t halfway it. Don’t wonder if you should or shouldn’t. Don’t ask about someone’s made up rules about when it’s acceptable. Just. do. it.
  2. Please don’t ever rush the court for Northwestern. I’m all for having fun and making memories and all that, but a line has to be drawn somewhere.

The 2013 Matty Awards

I know.

Last year when I announced the winners of the 2012 Ralphies, I said that the award wasn’t going away. I said I was a sucker for tradition and that I was going to keep calling the awards the Ralphies even though this blog has absolutely nothing to do with anyone named Ralph.

I was wrong. Oh well.

It just makes sense to make this switch. So the awards formally known as the Ralphies will now be known as The Fishbowl Awards Presented by (insert sponsor here) – the Mattys.

OK. That’s a mouthful. But that’s OK because there really isn’t a sponsor, nor do I intend on finding a sponsor for these awards. But, if someone ever feels the need to sponsor such an awards, there will be room to add a title sponsor. It works for the Rose Bowl (presented by Vizio this year) and the Tournament of Roses Parade (presented by Honda). Why couldn’t it eventually work for the Mattys?

Just planning ahead. Because, you know, I’m definitely the planner in this family (and now I’m moving my tongue that was firmly planted in my cheek).

So without further ado, I am pleased to present

The 2013 Matty Awards

Fishbowl Award

Best Movie

I think I saw more movies this year than I’ve seen in any year in recent memory. Star Trek Into Darkness was pretty fun. It was even more memorable because Christy and I actually got to go there on a date. I think the last movie just the two of us went to was Shrek. Yeah. It’s been a while. Other movies I saw included JobsThe Fifth EstateIron Man 3Hotel Transylvania, Despicable Me 2and The Book Thief.

Disney's Frozen

In a field full of worthy candidates, Frozen stands out as the best movie of 2013. Disney has managed to recapture some of the magic from their Renaissance Era. The songs are catchy. The story is engaging. The themes – love, self sacrifice, and accepting people who are different from you – encourage you to think about the topics more deeply after leaving the cinema. It has a Broadway musical feel to it, much like Beauty and the Beast.

And Alyson is determined to build an Olaf snowman after seeing Frozen.

It’s a very good movie. I think it’s the best one I’ve seen all year. If you’re as into the movie as our family was, you can go ahead and pre-order your own copy of Frozen.

Best Album

Divided & United: The Songs of the Civil War
I heard about Divided & United: The Songs of the Civil War while listening to NPR on the way home from work. From the first note, I was hooked.

Divided & United: The Songs of the Civil War is a compilation of songs that were written during the US Civil War. The songs are performed by current artists like Vince Gill, Ricky Skaggs, and  Old Crow Medicine Show. It’s good stuff. And I’m not even a fan of most of the musicians on the album.

While this isn’t an album I can listen to all the time, it’s a pretty phenomenal album. Some of the songs, like Lee Ann Womack singing The Legend of the Rebel Soldier, will haunt you for the rest of the day. Other songs like Kingdom Come and Down by the Riverside will make you want to get up and dance.

It’s a great album for anyone who has even a hint of interest in Civil War history.

Best Song

Oh man. I had trouble with this one. So I asked my kids for help. That’s right. I outsourced this award this year.

Here are their choices for Best Song of 2013:

Aiden

Aiden surprised me with his pick. I thought for sure he was going to pick Radioactive by Imagine Dragons. But he didn’t. And I’m kind of happy about that. I used to like the song. Then I watched the video. Stuffed animals fighting in a pit? Come on, man.

Aiden chose Hall of Fame by The Script (featuring will.i.am). Interesting choice there, my boy…

Alyson

Although the video is banned at our house, the song isn’t. Aly tells us “This is my jam!” every time we hear Miley Cyrus sing Wrecking Ball on the radio.

Mihret

OK. I didn’t really give her a choice. I picked it for her. It’s The Cups Song. And you can see why from this video.

See? Adorable.

Best Book (Nonfiction)

Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking by Susan CainAs I said earlier this yearQuiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking is a must-read for everyone. Are you an an introvert? You gotta read this book. Do you know an introvert? You gotta read this book. Did you pass an introvert while you walked through the aisles of your local grocery store? Yep. You gotta read this book.

Then give a copy of the book to a friend.

This book should also be required reading for all seminarians, ministry interns, Elders, pastoral staff, worship leaders, small group leaders, Sunday School teachers, and Senior Pastors.

Yes. It’s that important.

Best Book (Fiction)

I don’t remember reading any memorable fiction this year. Glancing at my bookshelf on Goodreads confirms that I did not read any works of fiction this year. That’s unfortunate. It must be fixed.

Central Indiana residents have been challenged to read 26 (or more) books in 2014. In order fix my anemic fiction record, I’m jumping into the #Read26Indy challenge. That’s about one book every two weeks. In order for that to happen, I’m going to need to find some good works of fiction. Any suggestions? I’m all ears!

Best TV Show

This category has been retired.

Best Sports Moment

Sunday, March 10
Michigan at Indiana

The Hoosiers defeated the Highlighters for their first outright Big Ten regular season championship in decades when this shot doesn’t go in…

The ball rolling around the rim as Michigan's final shot against Indiana fails to go in. via sbnation.com

While watching that shot in realtime almost gave me and every other Hoosier fan a heart attack, it’s such a great memory now.

Best Blog

There’s a tie for this year’s Matty for Best Blog.

Indy with Kids

Indy with Kids

With Indy With Kids, Katy has created a great resource for families in Central Indiana. And the site keeps getting better. She has shared some of her vision for 2014 with me and she has some pretty amazing things planned for the coming year. She’s also a pretty cool person to meet in real life.

Katy has been named one of Babble’s 100 Best Bloggers of 2013. But I think winning a Matty is waaay cooler. 😉

Geeking in Indiana

Geeking in Indiana

I’m a geek. I live in Indiana. That’s enough of a reason to love Tony’s Geeking in Indiana. It doesn’t hurt that he’s a pretty nice guy. Maybe even the nicest guy on twitter.

What about you?

What do you think about the choices? Am I right? Did I miss the mark on any of them? What are your favorites from last year? I’d love to hear your thoughts!

*This post contains some affiliate links. If you click the link and buy something, I get a very small percentage of the purchase. It’s a win-win situation. Does this impact my opinions expressed in this post? Absolutely not.