Howdy. I'm Matt Todd. My wife and I have four kids and a dog,. I'm passionate about orphan care. I'm a die-hard fan of the Evansville Aces, the Indiana Hoosiers, and Star Wars. I'm trying to live life by the Todd family motto: "It behooves us to live!"

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?

Breaking My Own Rule

I have a long-standing rule when it comes to sports fandom: Unless you’re coaching or playing in the game or have a child playing in the game, don’t ever use the word “we” when referring to your favorite team. Even referring to your child’s play is borderline to me, but I allow it.

In my 14 years following the Indianapolis Colts, I don’t recall ever referring to the Horseshoe as “we” – even when they went to the Super Bowl.  I don’t play on the team. I don’t pay their salaries. I don’t even attend the games. Shoot, I’m lucky to even get to go to an occasional preseason game (although that could change soon considering how much rebuilding they’ll be doing the next few years). There’s no need to refer to the Colts as “we.”

To the best of my recollection, in my 25+ years of actively cheering for the Indiana Hoosiers, I have never knowingly uttered the word “we” when referring to the Cream and Crimson.

In fact, when I hear people refer to their favorite teams, I must confess that I kind of look down my nose at them. Not literally, of course. But I do imagine myself doing that and maybe even rolling my eyes at them.

This Hoosiers team is different. Maybe it’s because of their perseverance during some pretty rotten seasons post-HeWhoShallNeverBeNamedAgainOnThisBlog. Maybe it’s because Coach Crean has done a great job encouraging us, the fanbase, to continue our support of what they were doing. Maybe it’s because I actually felt like I could will them to upset Michigan State at Assembly Hall in 2009.

I feel more emotionally invested in this team than I have since the Calbert Cheaney era.  I am invested.

So I’m breaking one of my cardinal rules. I’m wearing this shirt with pride, celebrating the Hoosiers’ return to the Big Dance earlier than anyone really expected.

Do I think “we’re” going to go deep into the tournament? I have no idea. I sure hope so. “We’ve” been full of surprises all season. Why not a few more?

 

Twitter is my friend

As you probably already know, I’ve been using twitter quite regularly (@mattdantodd, if you’re asking :)) for quite some time. I know, I know. There are critics out there who say that no one really cares how many cups of coffee you have in the morning or how long it took you to cut your nails. I get it. Sometimes twitter does go into that kind of stuff, but it’s really a peripheral thing. I really don’t think it’s as bad as most people’s status updates on facebook (yeah, I’m on there too…but I think you know that already) , but I digress…

I’ve found twitter to be very helpful in my development as a Pastor. I’ve been using twitter to get some amazing advice from some church leaders who really “have it between the ears,” so to speak. It has also served as a tool to help connect me with other pastors in the area, as well as other Muncie folk. Probably the most beneficial aspect of twitter for me has been the fact that it forces you to say what you mean in a very succinct manner. It forces you to be disciplined in the words you choose. And I’ve seen this impact my sermon preparation in a good way. I’m starting to choose my words more carefully, which is always a good thing.

In my experience, however, my appreciation of twitter has jumped to a whole ‘nother level because of this tweet from Tom Crean. I figured I’d give it a shot, so I quickly sent him my name and address.

A few minutes passed and I thought, “You know what? I’ll bet Aiden would think that was cool. Why didn’t I send him Aiden’s name instead of mine?” So I emailed again, asking to change the recipient’s name if I was one of the first 50 to email him.

I didn’t get any responses, so I didn’t really think anything of it.

Until today when I opened the mailbox and saw a big envelope with “Indiana Basketball” written across its face in bold, crimson letters. I ran in and carefully tore into the package, trying desperately to avoid ripping into its contents.

Inside the envelope was not one, but two signed pictures from Tom Crean. Now, if that doesn’t make twitter worth it, I don’t know what will. 🙂

I dont know if you can read it because of the glare, but the top photo says To Aiden signed, Tom Crean. The bottom one says To Matt
I don't know if you can read it because of the glare, but the top photo says "To Aiden" signed, "Tom Crean." The bottom one says "To Matt"

Although Aiden wasn’t sure who “Tom Crean” was, he got super-excited when I reminded him that he’s the IU basketball coach. I think it made his day. It definitely made mine. Shoot, it might have even made my week.

Have I mentioned that I think Tom Crean gets it? He totally gets it. In the words of one of my favorite Hoosier players, “What can I say? It’s Indiana!”

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.

Big Man on Campus

When Indiana hired Tom Crean earlier this year, the message boards lit up with Marquette fans saying they were happy he was gone because he “can’t recruit a big man.”

Maybe he just couldn’t get a big man to come north to the state of Wisconsin. Because 6’11” certainly sounds like a big man to me!

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: the more I hear Tom Crean speak and the more I see what he’s already done with the program makes me like the guy even more!  There might be some dark days ahead for the IU program (especially one the NCAA stops dragging their heels and finally decides to do whatever it’s going to do), but there’s a light at the end of this tunnel.

I’m Sold

I heard Tom Crean on the radio this afternoon. I absolutely love that guy. He’s such a great fit for the Hoosier basketball program. When it comes to understanding the whole culture surrounding Indiana basketball, he gets it.

100%.

He

gets

it.

And it just oozes out of him every time he talks about the program. And every time I hear him, my appreciation for the guy deepens even more.

Dear Purdue fan,
Enjoy this season while you can. Enjoy your preseason Top 5 ranking and your expected domination of the Big Ten next year (I seem to remember hearing about another team from Indiana that was supposed to do the same thing this year…just shows what the “prognosticators” really know, huh?). Enjoy your time in the spotlight. Shoot, if the Hoosiers are actually hit with more sanctions and a post-season ban, you can go ahead and enjoy that, too. But like I said, enjoy it while you can. Crean has already begun turning this thing around. And you might not like what you see in a few years. So enjoy it while you can.