Center of the Basketball Universe (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Anyone who knows me at all knows I am a lifelong, die-hard Indiana University Hoosiers basketball fan…from the time I was a kid (yep, all those years ago). We lived way out in the middle of nowhere, had a black and white television hooked up to an antennae…could only get the 3 major networks and one little Indianapolis station…fortunately for us, back then that station carried the IU games…all of them that weren’t on network tv. With announcers who were partisan IU fans…Bob Knight was the coach…players like Scott May, Quinn Buckner and Kent Benson led IU to a national championship in 1976 (should have been, would have been, the second championship had May not been injured late in the previous season)…and, might I add, that was also the last team to make it through the entire season undefeated…there have been a lot of really great teams to play the game of college basketball in the past 36 years, but none that could match what that team accomplished.
Having said that, this IU team is pretty darn special in its own right. This is a team that has faced tremendous adversity, a team that had to completely rebuild the program, that had to work hard for every single accomplishment, that continued to battle through 3 tough losing seasons…through it all, they never gave up, they continued to work hard, to improve individually and collectively. No one gave them anything…they worked for everything they’ve achieved. This group of seniors is making its first NCAA run. The naysayers said they would lose their first game last week…in part because this is uncharted territory for every player on this team, they don’t have talented point guards, they aren’t as athletic as some of the other teams…and so on…
All year, this group of guys has proven the talking heads wrong…they seem to thrive on the doubters, on no one believing they can win…they relish the role of underdog. Yes, they are, once again, the underdogs in their upcoming game. When I hear certain analysts declare that IU doesn’t have a chance against UK Friday night in Atlanta, I just smile. I seem to remember they didn’t have a prayer in that game played back on Dec 10 either, but somehow came out victorious.
Will they win Friday night? I don’t know any more about that than those guys on ESPN and CBS…but I do know that this team has brought Indiana back to the national stage…the right way…that they’ll put their all into this match up, they won’t just meekly roll over simply because the team they’re playing is purported to be better than some pro teams. They know they can beat this team…they know it because they’ve already done it!
Whatever happens the rest of the way in this tournament…I just want to say…Indiana Hoosiers…love us or hate us…we’re back!!
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