Back Home Again, in Indiana

December 11, 2011

As a freshman at Indiana, my first real college basketball game was the IU vs. Kentucky game on December 6, 1980.  Kentucky, then ranked #2 came into town to play the #5 Hoosiers and I had a seat in the 10th row on the floor behind the basket.  For those that have never been in Assembly Hall in Bloomington, it is one of the worst places to watch a college basketball game (or attend a concert).  It is built with two monster sections on either side of the court, with a very steep balcony on top.  There are only about 20 rows of bleachers behind each basket.

Back then, there was no such thing as a student section–we were randomly placed around the arena.  In those days, you could sign up for only half of the home games.  You had to negotiate with someone (usually a female student) to get the other half of the games.  With the random placement and the chance that you were going to end up either high in the main level or in the balcony that the same view as a satellite in geo-synchronous orbit, those floor level seats were sacred and coveted.

It was loud and it was thrilling.  Indiana ended up losing 68-66. Ray Tolbert missed a dunk in the last minute that would have given Indiana the lead that was right in front of us.  Needless to say, I was hooked.  In my four years at Indiana, the only home games I missed were those that occurred when we were on break.  I skipped spring break my freshman year to attend the NCAA regionals being held in Bloomington.  We ended up winning the national championship that year, and the stories about that season and that night are still being told thirty years later.

This is all a long lead-up to the flashbacks I’ve had since late Saturday afternoon, when Indiana’s basketball program returned from the dead to beat the (then) #1 ranked Kentucky Wildcats.

Watching the game was a treat and featured me pacing and jumping and agonizing over what seemed like an opportunity lost.  And then Christian Watford took a pass and drained a twenty-six foot jump shot that people will be talking about in Bloomington for years to come.

Moments before chaos reigned

Indiana’s basketball program was good in my day.  We expected to win our home games, even against people ranked higher than we were.  As a result, we never stormed the court.  It was fun to watch the kids take the court yesterday. The end of the game and the aftermath were jubilant.  Here are several views.  The first with longtime Hoosier Radio Network announcer Don Fisher’s call dubbed over the ESPN video.

This one is my favorite.  It’s amateur video taken from about 20 rows up in the main level, so it lacks the announcers, but gives you a great idea of the explosion of sound as the game ended.

Finally, my favorite watering hole while on campus (and now) was Nick’s English Hut.  When Indiana beat Michael Jordan’s North Carolina team in 1984 to advance to the regional finals when I was a senior, I was standing on the table and hanging from the beer barrels that hung from the rafters.  So it’s a place with wonderful memories for me.  Here’s a video taken from within the “addition” in Nick’s–not the old staid part but the part that looks like a sports bar without seating.  The video shakes and moves so quickly that the neon signs look like fabulous modern art works.

It just wasn’t meant to be. (originally posted 22-Jan-09)

April 6, 2009

I became a season ticket holder about 7 years ago, principally for one reason: to see my alma mater play without needing to scramble for tickets and sit in the rafters. For the first couple of years, it worked. There were the Saturday or Sunday games that were no problem to get to and even the week night games that I could reliably make.

Then something changed. Well, my job responsibilities changed. For the last three years, without fail, something would come up either the night before or the day of the game that would make getting there problematic or impossible. Begrudgingly, I accepted it as part of the job.

Last year, with not much happening at work, I thought I had a clear field. That is until my wife reminded me that her charity gala would be that certain Saturday night in February. Ugh. With no way out, I went to half the game, then left (with the score tied at the half) to attend the gala. I watched my blackberry for the balance of the night (a victory for our side by 3). Marital peace was achieved at the cost of seeing an exciting game.

Having lost my job in December, I felt confident that this year, of all years, I’d have an unobstructed shot at seeing an entire game next Wednesday. (The fact that my team is cover-your-eyes awful doesn’t deter me.) No galas or kid events on the horizon. I was cleared for landing.

So I’ve been talking to a company about a position I’d like. There’s been talk of getting together for further discussions in person. I got an email tonight. They want me to come to New York for the much-anticipated discussions. Next Wednesday.

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