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Category: Indiana University Hoosier (I.U) Sports (Page 1 of 26)

Indiana University Hoosier athletics

Old Sport Shorts: Who’s Next? #2444

Three straight final game losses to Purdue sealed the inevitable firing of Indiana football Coach Tom Allen. I will miss his spirit on the sidelines and find the decision futile. I.U. will not only lose nearly 20 million dollars (nearly 400k for every loss) in the buyout but also flood the portal with transfer prospects. Will it do any good? No! Indiana is now nothing more than a soccer school (8 national titles and perhaps another in the works). Trophies for Swimming (6 straight), Basketball (5), Cross Country (3), Track & Field (1), and Wrestling (1) are now gathering cobwebs in the display case. Women’s Basketball has probably the greatest potential and football the least. A new coach is not going to make the slightest difference, especially considering that the program has had 29 different leaders since it began play in the 1887 season. Only six have led the Hoosiers to postseason bowl games, including Tom Allen who is now yesterday’s news.

1967 was the last Big Ten Conference football title under John Pont that led to the sole Rose Bowl appearance. They lost 14-3 to U.S.C. and O.J. Simpson. Starting next year, the Hoosiers and Trojans will become conference foes. If it weren’t for visiting Ohio State, Memorial Stadium would never be packed, and most of the regular I.U. fans would never leave the parking lot tailgates. When I was a season ticket holder back in the 80s, we defined today’s meaning of social distancing. One coach, Terry Hoeppner, sadly died before he was fired, while offensive coordinator Bill Lynch took over to lead the 2007 team to a 7-6 record and a trip to the Insight Bowl

Back in 1957, Coach Bob Hicks went 1-8 in his only season for the lowest winning percentage of all time. At the other extreme, Coach Madison G. Gonterman lead the Hoosiers to 12-3 over two seasons (1896-7). Coach Bo McMillin had the longest tenure, lasting for 14-years, but Coach Bill Mallory led I.U. for the most games (149) that included six different bowl games. I traveled to two of those in these glory years (Liberty and Independence).

Coach Kevin Wilson resigned amidst “philosophical differences” in 2016 after a Pinstripe Bowl appearance in 2015. Allen replaced him, starting with the Foster Farms Bowl, his first loss of 49 total to Utah 26-24. His last loss was this past weekend’s Purdue game, a battle between two eight loss teams, where I.U. was flushed down the toilet, in what should have been coined the Tidy Bowl, and the losing coach removed from the job. 

Arthur B. Woodford was the first I.U. football coach (1887-1888), followed by single season campaigns by Evans Woolen and Billy Herod. The team then went two seasons without a coach, compiling a 3-6-1 record. In 1894-5, with multiple coaches, they went 4-7-2, so show me where I.U. coaching matters! Some of the more recognizable coaching names for the Hoosiers, thanks to modern day broadcasting exposure, included Lee Corso (10 years), Sam Wyche (1), Cam Cameron (5), and Gerry DiNardo (3). This group combined for a pathetic record of 70-140-2. Other Hoosier losers included Coach Phil Dickens (1958-64: 20-41-2), Coach Bernie Crimmins (1952-1956: 13-32), Coach Clyde Smith (1948-1951: 8-27-1), Coach Earl C. Hayes (1931-33: 8-14-4), Coach Harlan Page (1926-30: 14-23-3), Coach Bill Ingrim (1923-25: 10-12-1), Coach James P. Herron (1922: 1-4-2), and Coach Clarence Childs (1914-15: 6-7-1).

Through the years there were a few winning coaches that should be recognized for achieving the nearly impossible at I.U. 1895 through 1913, four coaches totaled 80 wins, only 52 losses and 10 ties. The combo of Coaches Winchester Osgood and Robert Wrenn (1895) went 4-3-1, just before the afore mentioned winner, Madison G. Gonterman, took the helm. He was followed by Coach James H. Horn (1898-1904) who led the team to a 33-21-5 record over 7 seasons. Coach James M. Sheldon then won 35 games against 26 losses and three ties. It was truly the good old days. From 1916-1921, Coach Ewald O. Stiehm added 20 victories and one tie while losing only 18. That takes us full circle to Coach Bo McMillin’s 63-48-11 success from 1934-1947. If my math is correct, since that time, and just beyond my lifetime, fourteen coaches, all with losing records, have managed just 290 victories and 9 ties while losing 507 times. Who’s next?




Old Sport Shorts: Knight’s Out #2428

Bob Knight came to Bloomington to coach basketball just after I did, at an age only 11-years older. I watched many of the specials on his life after his death yesterday. The most touching moment was his return to Assembly Hall for the first time in twenty-years to be honored at half time of the Purdue game in 2020. I was watching from a Las Vegas Casino, just before Covid shut everything down. Otherwise, it may never have happened!

I only talked to him twice in my life. The first was a short exchange during the 1998 Maui Classic that my wife and I attended. The last was a fairly lengthy conversation at a private affair in the kitchen of a Texas politician that he supported back in 2012. It was the night that Neil Reed died, and his speech was abruptly interrupted by that urgent phone call. He quickly left the event without an explanation. A friend of mine who played for him remained close after graduation and attended several reunions with him and his teammates. He credits Coach Knight for getting his career started. 

He was adamant with his players about attending classes and ultimately graduating (most did), supported the I.U. library, and numerous other educational causes. He was both tough and personally supportive of those around him. He threw a chair, supposedly head-butted a player, and was involved in previously mentioned choking incident. It was hard to defend these actions, whether true or not. The public perception was that he was a bully with a quick temper, but privately he was much loved. He expected to win, but never crossed that line of inappropriate recruiting that was too often fashionable at the time. 

He was a winner and a brilliant basketball strategist and described by most as larger-than-life, although he did not appear that way at that only Assembly Hall public appearance. He looked fragile, as my father did later in life. as he tried to shake his fists to fire up the crowd. His complexion was ruddy and voice a bit hoarse, but it was still a great moment. We all knew that he wouldn’t be with us for long, and now just three years later he’s gone. He apparently made some Mike Woodson practices, spent time with Gene Keady, and began to show signs of dementia. We were lucky to see him again in Bloomington after the way he was treated during the firing. It should have been handled differently and, if so, it would already be Bob Knight Court with a statue out front that would all have been celebrated with him. Instead, it’s Simon Skjodt Arena, with videos of Knight’s numerous achievements, and the players now wearing a RMK uniform patch. 

Many more Coach Knight tributes will obviously come as time passes, but the last few decades have been miserable for me without his presence. These are honors that I care more about than he probably ever did, giving all the credit to his players while drawing all the attention away from them to allow them focus on winning, as they did a lot! We’ve gone through coaches like sand through the hourglass, have lost our winning edge, and can no longer find our way in even in the BIG Ten Conference, let alone become a factor in the national picture. Hopefully, Coach Mike Woodson, one of his numerous prodigies, can channel his presence and return the Hoosiers to former glory. He’s the future – Rest in Peace Coach -Knight’s Out!


Old Sport Shorts: I.U. World Series #2422

One Indiana University Hoosier made it to the World Series this year, although he didn’t fare so well in his quest to get there last night. With a two game and home field advantage, I fully expected I.U. alum Kyle Schwarber and his Phillies teammates to get there again, instead it was Andrew Saalfrank, also an I.U. alum and the Arizona Diamondbacks moving on for the first time since 2001, their 4th season in MLB and their only other trip to the Fall Classic, when they beat the Yankees in Game 7. It also took 7 games to win the NLCS. It will be a battle between two Wildcards!

Here’s a recap of the first encounter between Schwarber and Saalfrank, as described by Doug Haller of The Athletic:

“A rookie left-hander, Saalfrank had been with the Diamondbacks for six weeks, promoted from Triple-A Reno. Throughout the playoffs, he had played a key role in Arizona’s bullpen, avoiding trouble, pitching out of jams. Dating to his Sept. 4 promotion, he had not allowed an earned run in 14 appearances.”

“Saalfrank, 26, took the ball. Lovullo patted him on the leg. Third baseman Emmanuel Rivera did the same. Philadelphia Phillies slugger Kyle Schwarber, the hero of the National League Championship Series through two games, stepped in. The two had a connection.”

“Saalfrank and Schwarber both attended Indiana University. Schwarber was four years older, but Saalfrank had met him early in his college career. Schwarber had been a star from the start, an offensive force. Saalfrank was more of a late bloomer, stuck in the bullpen until an injury to a starting pitcher forced him into the rotation.”

“It changed his career.”

“On the mound in Game 3, with the score deadlocked 0-0, Saalfrank started with an 83-mph curveball that sailed outside the strike zone.” 

“Saalfrank walked Schwarber.”

He then walked him again in Game 7 and the prior batter, allowing the potentially winning run at the plate with no outs. That was the end of his night, immediately relieved by Kevin Ginkel who preserved the victory with three strike outs, including Bryce Harper. It was Ketel Marte, the NLCS MVP, that turned out to be the real “Mr. October” instead of Schwarber or Harper. 

As a personal side note, I worked with the Saalfrank family in Ft. Wayne, Indiana, while I was in the radio business at WMEE/WQHK. They owned an advertising agency called Saal. Andrew is from nearby Hoagland and pitched for I.U. before being drafted in the 2019 sixth round by the Diamondbacks. 


Old Sport Shorts: I.U.’s Kyle Schwarber #2421

I found this Kyle Schwarber bio on from 2014. He wore jersey #10 for the Indiana Hoosiers before switching to #12 for the Cubs, Red Sox, Nats, and currently the Phillies. He might have asked to continue with #10 in Chicago, but the uniform number was retired in honor of Ron Santo back in 2003. 

“Selected in the first round of the 2014 MLB Draft (fourth overall) by the Chicago Cubs, the highest draft pick in Indiana baseball history … Two-time First Team All-American and Louisville Slugger Freshman All-American honoree … In IU history, ranks fifth in slugging percentage (.607), sixth in home runs (40), eighth in hits (238) and tied for eighth in triples (12) and runs (182) … All-Big Ten honors all three years … for career batted .341 in 180 games played.”

2014 – JUNIOR

“Johnny Bench Award Finalist … First Team All-American (Baseball America and Perfect Game), Second Team All-American (Louisville Slugger, NCBWA and ABCA/Rawlings) … First Team All-Big Ten … Big Ten Tournament Most Outstanding Player and Big Ten All-Tournament Team on Big Ten charts, ranked first in slugging percentage (.659), on base percentage (.464), runs scored (66), home runs (14), total bases (153), walks (44) and total plate appearances (280), tied for first in triples (6), second in hits (83), third in batting average (.358), fifth in RBI (48), tied for fifth in doubles (16) and sixth in at bats (232) … In IU single-season history, ranked tied for tenth in runs (66) … Big Ten Player of the Week (March 3) … reached base in all five plate appearances in win at No. 9 Louisville … accounted for eight runs in two-game sweep in Louisville … team-high 23 games with multiple hits, including three contests with career-high four hits … in four NCAA Regional games, recorded 10 hits, seven RBI, one double, one triple and two home runs.”


” Selected as the best catcher in the country by Perfect Game and the National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association, earning First Team All-America honors from both entities … named a Louisville Slugger Second Team All-American by the Collegiate Baseball newspaper … chosen as the NCBWA’s District V Player of the Year … also picked up First Team honors for both the ABCA/Rawlings All-Mideast Region and All-Big Ten squads … paired with Sam Travis to become only college teammates to compete for USA Baseball’s Collegiate National Team over the summer … led the Big Ten with 18 homeruns (3rd nationally), 65 runs (13th), 152 total bases (16th), .647 slugging percentage (19th), .456 OBP and 42 walks … his .366 average, 54 RBI and 86 hits each ranked third in the conference … the 18-homer total is slotted sixth all-time in school history … fielded .989 on the season … earned a spot on both the All-Big Ten Tournament and All-NCAA Bloomington Regional teams …’s Central Regional Player of the Week and Big Ten Player of the Week on March 11 after destroying Florida for 10 hits, four RBI and four runs scored in a road series victory … racked up seven hits, six runs and four RBI in series sweep at Iowa … blasted a no-doubt homer in the bottom of the 10th vs. Michigan, setting up a walk-off win for IU later in the inning … went on a 10-game postseason hitting streak which included four long-balls, 11 RBI, 14 runs scored and 14 total base knocks … clobbered a pair of cloud-scraping homers in an 8-6 win at Nebraska on the Big Ten Network … whacked homeruns in back-to-back games four different times, including twice in the postseason … Indiana went 46-13 (.780) in games he started and 3-3 (.500) in games an injury held him out of the starting lineup … an Academic All-Big Ten selection.”


“Tabbed as a Louisville Slugger Freshman All-American by the Collegiate Baseball newspaper … voted All-Big Ten second team catcher … unanimous selection to the Big Ten All-Freshman squad … three-time Big Ten Freshman of the Week honoree (Mar. 5/Apr. 30/May 21) … ranked in the conference’s top-10 of seven offensive categories: five triples (2nd), 51 runs (t-4th), 47 RBI (t-5th), 118 total bases (t-5th), 15 doubles (t-6th), eight homeruns (t-7th) and a .513 slugging percentage (9th) … threw out 27 attempted base stealers, second-most in the Big Ten … added nine stolen bases, a .300 batting average and .390 on-base percentage … numbers exploded in Big Ten play; hitting .376, slugging .624 and reaching base at a .464 clip during conference action … stroked nine doubles against Big Ten foes, the seventh-most in school history … started all 60 games, 54 behind the dish and six in the corner outfield … second on the team with 21 multi-hit and 13 multi-RBI games … batted .364 (24 of 66) with runners in scoring position … drove in four runs three times, including a grand slam at East Tennessee State … scored one or more runs in 12 consecutive games during late April/early May … scored at least once in 35 of 60 games.”


“Led the Greater Miami Conference with a .474 batting average, eight homeruns and .643 on-base percentage as a senior … also recorded 28 RBI and 11 stolen bases in his league’s Co-Player-of-the-Year-winning season … four-time team MVP … a second team All-Ohio linebacker selection.”


“The son of Greg and Donna Schwarber … has a brother, Jamin, and three sisters, Alicia, Kelly and Lindsey … born on March 5, 1993 … majoring in Recreational Sports Management. He was born in Middletown, Ohio and played for Middletown High, same school as I.U basketball’s Butch Carter.”


Old Sport Shorts: Pick ‘Em Poorly #2403

We choose our teams from the area where we live, the schools we attended, and outside influencers that cross our paths. I grew up in the Chicago area (northern Indiana) with a father that was a Detroit sports fan and neighbors that were Bears and White Sox supporters. My folks graduated from Indiana University and even baby pictures showed me in I.U. gear. They were able to win for many years with even me as part of their fan base but have fallen on hard times over the past 35-years of my life. 

The Elkhart High School Blue Blazers were my hometown favorite. The only Indiana professional sports franchise was the Pacers, until the Colts showed up in the middle of the night. Nowadays, there are women’s teams and minor league teams, but the state is still primarily influenced by Chicago, St. Louis, and Cincinnati teams. Hockey and soccer were not of interest to me until later in life, while I began to follow the Cubs since my dad and son were big fans. With my record of losers, I’m sure I’ve done them no favors in climbing on the bandwagon.

As a kid, I was drawn to players like Johnny Unitas of the then Baltimore Colts, Sherm Lollar of the Chicago White Sox, and Mike Ditka of the Bears. These attractions were likely due to the influence of television. For Lollar, it was the 1959 World Series against the Dodgers. Unitas joined the Colts in 1959 and Ditka the Bears in 1961, all in my vulnerable pre-teen years when I established initial fandom. “Johnny U” was the only one on a team outside my geographic circle. Ironically, the team moved to Indianapolis, as Peyton Manning eventually took his place in my heart, wearing that classic white helmet with the blue horseshoe. My dad talked me out of being a Yankees fan, despite my love of Mickey Mantle. They wouldn’t have probably won as many rings if I had stayed on board. 

Of all my teams, Indiana University basketball under Bob Knight is undoubtedly my most successful sports allegiance, witnessing three national titles, the most memorable in the stands when Keith Smart hit the winner. If I had chosen Notre Dame or Purdue, I would have seen personal glory in other sports, particularly football. I’ve tried to root for these teams, but negative childhood vibes have gotten in the way. It’s odd, because I’ve worked near both campuses and have had personal ties, so I should naturally be more supportive. My cousin played for the Irish and his father was an assistant coach, so it was the first stadium I ever visited, one of my treasured memories of going to games with my dad. I also interacted with Purdue coaches, like 
Tiller and Keady, and players such as Drew Brees, but my dad hated both schools, so I loyally followed along. 

As we moved from place to place, I adopted the local teams, but only rarely was it productive. The Illini were much less successful than the Hoosiers. While living in Austin, I did watch the Texas Longhorns win a College World Series title on TV and then saw live and in person the Oregon State Beavers equal that baseball achievement in Omaha, while working in Portland. I also followed the Portland Timbers when they won the MLS championship in 2015. The Oregon Ducks had their moments in football and basketball, but never won all the marbles. I even favored the Mariners in nearby Seattle, but they remain the only MLB franchise to have never played in a World Series – my kind of team. The Seahawks won the Super Bowl in 2013 but have been unable to repeat since I became their adoptive fan. 

Most all my favorite memories of my father are around attending sporting events, including the infamous “Hamburger” outburst. We went to high school games, ND Stadium, Comiskey Park, Riverfront, and Wrigley Field together. Saw “The Monster” explode with fireworks, celebrated those NCAA Championships of our IU Alma Mater, had lunch with Jim Coker of the Phillies, watched an angry Lou Pinella throw first base at an umpire, and witnessed Sammy Sosa top Babe Ruth’s HR record. Outside of sports, I remember carving our YMCA Indian Guides totem pole, along with a related overnight campout and our pinewood derby entry. We also traveled to Akron as a family to watch my good friend Tim Steffen compete in the Soap Box Derby nationals. Who could ever forget our lengthy station wagon journeys to Yellowstone, Wall Drugs, Mackinac Island, The Wisconsin Dells/Locks, Mt, Rushmore, Englewood, FL, and Gulf Shores. 

I never had success in the fantasy leagues or on betting in general, too often choosing players that ended up injured or performed poorly. I tried to stay out of my son’s selections, even though he invited me to be part of his team, a mistake he will learn to regret. We’re off to a bad start. Unfortunately, like father – like son. 

As far as professional sports, I have only gotten small doses of victory, otherwise it has been a miserable relationship. The Pacers have never won an NBA title, but the Colts did win a Super Bowl in 2007. Unfortunately, it was against my Bears, so it was a game of mixed emotions. The Bears won it all in 1986 and I reacted with my own “Super Bowl Shuffle.” The White Sox finally won rings in 2005 and the Cubs did it in 2016, games I was able to attend. That’s only 3 Chicago titles in 60 years of following these teams. That’s 171 losing seasons, including this year. The Bears are already 0-3, while the Cubs have dropped their last four as a potential playoff contender, and the long ago eliminated White Sox have only won four of their last ten. I logically should have been an obnoxious Bulls fan, but I spared them the “Johnston Jinx.” I really know how to pick ’em, don’t I? 

Old Sport Shorts: Relevant No More #2391

I’ve only managed 41 posts in the last 90 days, less than once every two days and far from my initial daily retirement commitment. I’m definitely slowing down in old age with little eventful to write about and a lack of motivation. The Georgia Southern vs. Wisconsin football game is apparently more important to the BTN viewers than the IU vs. Louisville match-up. Another slap in the face to Hoosier football, as I’m forced to watch the stats on the app, as was the case with IU soccer last night in their BIG opener against Wisconsin. I didn’t miss much since the game ended in a 0-0 tie. Plus, IU has yet to sign a player for next year in basketball, as top recruits continue to visit the facilities, but no one as yet committed. Am I worried yet? The first of the targets, Jaedan Mustaf, just signed with Georgia Tech.

Shohei Ohtani has just cleaned out his locker in Anaheim and is headed back to Japan- his season over and future in question. I have one more card coming in the mail, touting his stolen base and home run achievements, but injuries have not allowed him to fulfill record expectations. Will he have surgery and land with another team next year? Is his 2023 MVP crown now in jeopardy?

Can the Cubs hang on to the Wildcard and somehow make one last run against the Brewers for the division crown? The Brew Crew has gone 7-3 in the last 10 games while the Cubbies, while I’ve been paying attention, have slipped to 4-6. I should probably shift my allegiance to Milwaukee to put the jinx on them. My fortunes in sports continue to lead to disappointment. The poor play of Da Bears and reduced expectations only adds to this despair. Fantasy team injuries could jeopardize this week’s match-up with “Listed as Questionable,” a team name synonymous with my lack of luck. I need some good news to pick up my spirits that are bogged down with medical concerns and restless nights. 

I had another rough night’s sleep between many trips to the john and fears of my computer/phone being hacked. MonopolyGO continues to be a welcome distraction. This evening I’m spending with a group of satisfied UConn fans, defending NCAA Basketball Champs. It’s been 36-years since I’ve had that glow about me. At least, the Patriots are struggling this year, to keep them somewhat humble. My lineup of teams don’t seem to be relevant anymore!

Retirement is not without Hassles: REally TIREd MENTally #2388

I’ve really tapered off on my writing these past few weeks. I’ve also lost my appetite for TV shows, having wasted so much time streaming series after series. Now, I’m hooked on MonopolyGO, focused on getting to that next level. There must be a better use of my days than stupid video games. Admittedly, life has lost some of its luster with a pending prostrate procedure, heart catheterization appointment, and probable surgery. Any of these medical actions could jeopardize my Running Streak, that now stands at 5,372 days and counting. I thought I was a pretty healthy guy, but 72-years of wear and tear on my body is taking its toll. 

On a positive note, if my running streak ends, I will likely move on to some other addictive activity. Without the worry of injury to end the running, I might take up Pickleball or get back into skiing. Obviously, Florida is not an ideal location for fun in the snow. I was reminded that we are headed to Oakland in December with just a three-hour drive to Tahoe, so I just might consider finally achieving that 70+ Ski Club commitment. There is life beyond running, or so I’m told!

Since I last reported, IU football won its first game, and my son’s fantasy team was victorious in the NFL openers. The Bears and the Colts were not so fortunate. The Cubs, who I admittedly gave up on to start the season, are in strong contention for a Wild Card spot even if they can’t catch the Brewers. The disappointing White Sox have already been eliminated from post season play. 

Shohei Ohtani has not played in over a week, falling behind the Braves’ Greg Olsen in the Home Run Derby. I have built a collection of over 150 Topps Now cards honoring the Ohtani, Babe Ruth-like achievements in the first few years of his career. His pitching season is over with 10-victories, but his claim to AL MVP might be threatened if he misses more games. His career high in homers is 46 and stolen base best is 26, both set in 2021. The Angels franchise HR record is 47 by Troy Glaus. Ohtani was on track to top both of these marks before this recent injury – he’s day-to-day. I have taken the collection to Blue Breaks, the local sport card shop, to get an appraisal on what it might be worth, having invested about $1500 in the project and numerous hours in monitoring the Topps site for purchase opportunities. It’s just another addiction that I’m tiring from!

“Tiring in Retirement” or “REally TIREd MENTally” might be the best descriptions of my recent attitude. As a distraction, we set up another Marriott Vacation Club (or in this case Sheraton) mental-health getaway for the first weekend in January. A group of neighbors will share our 3-bedroom Orlando condo to do Universal Studios, the Kissimmee Mecum Auto Show, and celebrate the New Year, along with a birthday. It will fill that travel gap between Oakland (maybe Tahoe) and our Cross-Atlantic spring cruise, once my medical woes have hopefully been resolved. 


Diary of An Adoptee: Back Home Again (and again) in Indiana #2384

We keep coming “Back Home Again,” for family events, particularly in Indianapolis. Our first stop in the state was lunch at the Seymour Freddy’s on the last leg of our drive into Carmel. It was the closest to my bio-mother I’ve been since birth, since she supposedly is in a retirement home there, and in near proximity to my step-brother, Jerry, who works next door at the Walmart Distribution Center. There has still been no direct contact with this side of the Banister family, but they’ve resided in this area for years. 

After dropping my wife off in Brown County’s Nashville, I made a trip back in time to nearby Bloomington and the Indiana University campus. It was somewhat disturbing. My very first college apartment had been converted into an office with gated parking underneath and stairways/patios now enclosed. The Sigma Chi house on 10th Street was gone, undoubtedly moved to Fraternity Row.  Even more surprisingly, my second apartment complex, Colonial Crest, had been completely demolished. Most signs of my existence as a young adult had been erased. Even once arriving in Indy, The Keystone Sports Review, where I planned to have lunch with friends, was in the process of relocating. The former building had been leveled. We ended up at the Friendly Tavern in Zionsville instead, close to where I once lived while working in Lafayette. One dining establishment I was glad to see still doing good business was The Capri, where we went to dinner one night. It was built in 1951, the year I was born, and one of the few landmarks from my past still standing. 

We extended our stay in Indy for a quickly planned funeral, following the beautiful family wedding that generated some adult friction and kid drama. Although our friend’s unexpected death was obviously a sad affair, we caught up with some old acquaintances at the viewing, including a former boss that promised me some Cooperstown memorabilia signed by his son-in-law, recent inductee Scott Rolen. 

Our five nights in Indy included more Bourbon tasting at West Fork Whiskey to celebrate my birthday, along with s’mores prepared while sitting around our friend’s backyard fire-pit. After imposing on them as house guests, it was well past time for the long drive home. One morning I took the road weary Lexus to Discount Tire to have the malfunctioning pressure gage checked out from roughly hitting a curb in Louisville. 

The next evening we made our way to Huntsville, Alabama a day late for dinner with my Banister family at Connor’s Steakhouse. My bio sister, Julianna, drove over from Tuscaloosa and stayed with her son and his wife. I learned a few more things about Cecil Banister, my birth father. He loved shrimp but rarely paid for it, often serving on juries just to get fed this favorite. He loved chocolate and popcorn, always had a dark tan, and wore hearing aids. I can relate to most of these things, but obviously shrimp is not an inherited taste trait. His grandson, Gabriel, is a ND fan, while Julianne, his mother, supports her Crimson Tide employer. It was great to get together with them, even if it was only for a short time. 

With Hurricane Idalia targeted to hit Tallahassee in the morning, I made some last-minute arrangements with my son back in Florida to prepare our home for the storm, that fortunately had very little impact on our neighborhood. Once again, we had evacuated well, as had been the case with Ian when we were in Alaska. We also cancelled our next Marriott reservation and continued to stay at the Huntsville Element, a surprisingly great Westin property owned by Marriott, of course! Lunch was at The Cheesecake Factory, followed by a matinee movie of “Strays,” and dinner at PF Chang’s. We spent the last night in Dothan at a Courtyard, under the shadow of the giant peanut. Texas Roadhouse and Freddy’s were our last two dining spots as we fought our way through heavy rains on the way home. Tally was also grateful to be back in her bed, while Road Trip 2023 is a wrap! 

Stay tuned for a poetic recap!



Old Sport Shorts: More Magic of 60 #2380

Sadly, to put a heart-shattering, double exclamation mark on the 2022-23 season, the Hoosier women lost the BIG Tourney to Ohio State but won a NCAA Tourney first round game against Tennessee Tech, however, just like the men, lost to Miami “The U” to end the season. I would have to wait at least another year. The UConn men, on the other hand, would make a statement about how the “Magic of Sixty” applies to any championship team.

It was just announced that the 2023-24 Hoosiers will play the defending NCAA champion Huskies in the Empire Classic at Madison Square Gardens on November 19th. Since both teams experienced major turnover in the off-season with the NBA draft and transfer portal moves, no one is really sure what to expect. UConn is projected in the Top 10 while Indiana barely makes the Top 25. Dan Hurley and Mike Woodson will match coaching wits for the first time in a battle that will likely boil down to defense.

After just five years at the helm, Hurley’s Huskies claimed the top prize and tied Indiana with five NCAA Championship banners (1999, 2004, 2011, 2014, and 2023). The difference is that it took UConn only 24 years to get there as opposed to I.U.’s 47-year span. All of UConn’s titles have come well after the Hoosier’s last triumph in 1986 – 38 years ago.

In doing so, Coach Hurley took a page out of Coach Bob Knight’s book of defensive magic, leading his Huskies in the Final Four over the same Miami squad that had eliminated Coach Woodson’s Indiana in the second round. They, in fact, coincidentally held the Hurricanes to 59 points to get the chance to do the same 59-point defensive damage to San Diego in the Championship. Double the Magic to finish the season!

To get there, they had already held high-scoring Gonzaga to 53, Arkansas to 29-points at the half, St. Mary’s to a game total of only 55, and Iona to 24 in the second half. It’s that same Magic of Sixty (or two 30-point halves) that I’ve been preaching throughout this book. They apparently learned a lesson going into the NCAA Tourney when Marquette beat them for the Big East title because the Golden Eagles held the Huskies to just 30 in the second half, showing how defensive magic can work against them. Yes, UConn had their ups and downs throughout the season but went 17-1 when holding their opponent to 60-or less. The only loss was to Creighton 56-53, and that was countered earlier in the season with a 69-60 win over the same Blue Jays. Villanova, DePaul, and Oregon each only managed 59, Seton Hall 55, Butler 46, Iowa State 53, Delaware State 60, Boston University 57, and Stonehill 54 – all victims of the Magic of 60. If you get there first, you will likely win.

The game of basketball has changed since IU won their first title in 1940 over Kansas 60-42. Defenses are challenged even more with the shot clock, the 3-pointer, and other regulation shifts. However, as UConn just proved, THE MAGIC OF 60 STILL RULES!

(For Background See Post #1936)

Retirement is not without Hassles: The Games People Play #2378

We finally got some rain last night, as thunderstorms swept through the area. Our lawn and garden got some necessary natural hydration, giving our water bill a bit of a break. It was apparently still too hot for the Philly Cheesesteak food truck, disappointing my taste buds. Imagine cooking in a tin can with temperatures near ninety degrees. We thawed out some chicken noodle soup instead and streamed more of Designated Survivor. “Netflix and Chill” – retirement style. 

Earlier in the day, I watched Da’ Bears win a preseason game against the Titans. No big deal to most but a rare win in my book. Next Saturday they play the Colts. I’ve followed the White Sox to their doom this year and am trying not to jinx the Cubs by continuing to ignore their recent success. Although not an Angels fan, I seem to have paid too much attention to Shohei Ohtana and consequently have him in a slump. USA Women’s soccer was a disappointment and IU basketball recruiting seems to be at a standstill, although attracting national attention. I did see that Hoosier soccer waso  optimistically preseason ranked at #2. Not much word on football, so better than getting my hopes up. 

We’re two weeks away from the drive to Indianapolis, with some arrangements yet to be made. Our Louisville stop on the way there is somewhat contingent on getting together with some folks that we met on the Nile River Cruise. On the way back through Huntsville, we have to cement some plans with my half-sister and need to reserve a room in Tallahassee. Part of this excursion will be to celebrate my 72nd birthday.

I’ve just recently added the game of Monopoly GO to the list of silly games that I play on my phone. With all the time I waste with them, I hope they are at least keeping my mind sharp and dementia-free, as advertised. It all started with 7 Little Words many years ago, replacing crossword puzzles and Sudoku. I then added Solitaire, where animated fireworks were the only reward, upgrading recently to Solitaire Cash. I’ve yet to win any of the “thousands” that others are supposedly collecting. I occasionally use the $10 cash I earn every month by sharing my phone data with MobileXpression, but it hasn’t resulted in any big payouts. I also play Wordle every morning, with a current streak of 110, hoping to surpass the previous record of 119. Oh, the games people play!

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