As I bounced on the floor of the living room Tuesday evening, screaming at the television — “Get him off his back! Don’t fouls get called both ways? Even my grandmother could have seen that one!” — I really realized that I love Indiana basketball.
For almost 50 years, I have listened to Don Fischer call the games on the radio, sat glued to the television watching the colors of crimson and cream streaking up and down the floor or cheered in person for the boys in the pinstriped warm-ups.
Tuesday night, the Hoosiers traveled to East Lansing, Mich., just to play a basketball game. The best two teams in the Big Ten, tied for the league’s lead, would battle to see who would rest alone at the top of the mountain. No. 1 in the nation versus No. 4 in the nation. My wife said she didn’t think she could watch the game — it would make her too nervous. I quipped back that this game is exactly what Indiana basketball is all about. Indiana plays to be No. 1.
Have you ever noticed that during impassioned moments our mind remembers things? In the heat of the moment, there were so many things I could have remembered. I might have conjured up memories of a loss against Kentucky in a tournament game in 1975 handing the team their only loss of the year and eliminating their bid for the NCAA championship.
I could have remembered games like the first round of the NCAA tournament in 1988 against the Richmond Spiders where they lost unceremoniously to a team with more heart than talent. I might have remembered how bad I felt when the university fired Bob Knight as coach, or worse yet, hired Kelvin Sampson. I might have pondered Tom Crean’s first season at Indiana where he only had two players return and together they had less than 10 minutes of game experience. I might have sighed as I thought about his first three seasons and a less than 30 percent victory rate.