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Category: Indiana University Hoosier (I.U) Sports (Page 1 of 24)

Indiana University Hoosier athletics

Old Sport Shorts: BIG Showdown #2261

At the start of this week, I was looking forward to some good basketball, with BIG games on the horizon. The Golden Gophers were without leading scorer Dawson Garcia and backup forward Pharrel Payne when the Hoosiers came calling at “The Barn.” Regardless, the Hoosiers still couldn’t “hit the proverbial side,” shooting 41.1% from the field 4-14 from behind the arc, and 11-18 from the line. The home team was even worse at 34.4%, 5-25, and 8-14, but I.U. had twice as many turnovers, half of those in the first eight minutes of the game. It may have been one of the ugliest games I’ve ever witnessed.

The ”Rule of 60” was working against us at traditionally unfriendly Williams Arena as Minnesota took a 57-54 lead with 3:20 go in the game after Jamison Battle hit a contested 3-pointer and Taurus Samuels sank two free throws. The savior was once again Trayce Jackson-Davis with 25 points, and 21 rebounds, including a game winning tip-in off a free-throw miss my Race Thompson with 43-seconds remaining. It prevented Minnesota from reaching 60 first with the score tied at 57-57. You also have to credit the IU defense as Indiana would dominate the final 3:20 of the game, allowing no points while scoring seven of their own. The final score was 61-57 after a pair of Trey Galloway free throws with 8-seconds to go, getting the Hoosiers over that magical hump. Ta’Lon Cooper missed a 3-pointer on the next Minnesota possession and Miller Kopp grabbed a loose ball and called timeout with just over 20 seconds to go. 

Regardless of the circumstances, a big, BIG road win was the result, in a setting that has never been kind to the Hoosiers. It was their fourth straight conference win, tying them with Illinois and Michigan State at 5-4. They are a half-game behind Michigan and Northwestern, one game behind Rutgers, and three behind Purdue. Mike Woodson did not travel with the team since he was recovering from Covid, so Associate head coach, Yasir Rosemond took the reins. Next up, Ohio State at Simon Skojdt Assembly Hall.

With an 86-70 win over the Buckeyes, it meant five straight conference wins for the HOT Hoosiers for the first time since the 2015-2016 season. Two nights earlier, the IU Women’s team conquered the #2 ranked Ohio State ladies on the same floor. Both Hoosier teams used huge runs to breakaway to comfortable victories.  

Freshman sensation Jalen Hood-Schifino had 17 of Indiana’s first 21 points, and finished the first half with 20, including 6- treys for a 46-30 Hoosier edge. In the end, JHS scored a game-high 24 points. Trayce Jackson-Davis continued his recent dominance with another double-double. He had 18 points and 10 rebounds in the victory while Malik Reneau, showing signs of shedding his freshman slump, added 15-points and 8 boards. Turnovers still seem to plague this team with nine compared to 8 for the visitors, but the Hoosiers shot 50% from field and 50% from three.

I.U. now sits at 15-6 and 6-4 in conference play, after a 1-4 start. The “magical moment” was a TJD dunk at 13:30, making it 60-43. Hopefully, this momentum will continue when they play at Maryland on Tuesday night, before hosting Purdue on Saturday. The Boilers have already won 21-games after revenging their only loss to Michigan State and claiming 4-straight since. The BIG Showdown is coming next weekend. 

Retirement is not without Hassles: Confusion #2259

I was really confused on what day of the week it was today after a busy week. Our Sunday night Lunar New Year Party went well with 34 guests, but it seemed like more of a Friday or Saturday night affair. Confucious or Confusion?  Monday was a traditional “Matinee” day, but we went to the movie “Plane” a bit earlier to get home for another party of neighbors planning a cruise, so dinner wasn’t even “Meatless.” Tuesday, I went to my first chair yoga class and stretched a few rarely used muscles. Temperatures have been cold, and therefore swimming has been more sporadic than normal, disrupting that routine. We had also strayed from the habit of having the kids over for Tuesday Eve dinner, getting that family tradition back on track. 

Wednesday night, I watched I.U. men’s basketball barely edge Minnesota, but usually they play mid-week Thursdays, so that threw me off a bit. I was also up late for the game, fueled by adrenaline after a late tip-off. My wife and I ended up going chair shopping in Sarasota yesterday, our second visit there in the past week.  We also gorged ourselves on Amish cooking at Der Dutchman and had no need for dinner, another unusual twist to the week. The night ended with an I.U. women’s basketball victory over #2 Ohio State. 

In the middle of my run today, I suddenly realized it was Friday already. Jogging has at least been a consistent habit for me. That hasn’t changed in the last fourteen years, as “The Streak” now stands at 5,143 consecutive days. I also did not vary from my 3.1-mile course and was not rushed into a shorter distance. In addition, I’ve done a lot of writing this week, adding to the chapters in my Storyworth ramblings. Nothing much is planned for the weekend when traditional partying is done. We got it out of the way early this week, and that was the beginning of my retirement confusion. 

Old Sport Shorts: Other Great Sports Moments #2258

This is a continuation of my last post where I listed my Top 10 Sports Moments (See Post #2257). However, there were just too many others that need to be mentioned. Because of my media connections and extensive travel opportunities, I’ve had the good fortune to attend 9 Final Fours (New Orleans 1982, Minneapolis 1992, Indianapolis 1991, 2000,2006, 2010, and Houston 2011) and 4 World Series, plus numerous auto races, games, championships, playoffs, tournaments, inaugural events, matches, stadiums and venues. To recall all of this was all a real test for my memory banks, aided greatly by diary mentions. 

I grew up in Elkhart, Indiana, about 100 miles east of Chicago. There was little in the way of sports on TV when I was a kid, but on occasion my dad would take me to games in The Windy City. I wanted to see Mickey Mantle play, so we went to Comiskey Park, home of the White Sox. We also went to Wrigley Field and on one trip, he took me to lunch in the Prudential Building with Jim Coker, a catcher for the Philadelphia Phillies. I also had an uncle who coached football at the University of Notre Dame and a cousin, Denny Murphy, that was an Irish tight end. I remember meeting him at a game against Cal. In addition, he took me to a N.D. basketball game at the Athletic and Convocation Center (ACC) that looked like a giant bra.  These were my first personal connections with top athletes. I went back to Notre Dame in 2017 for the stadium remodel, my boss, a N.D. grad, gave me front-row seats for the unveiling. 

My dad would often take me to high school basketball games at nearby North Side Gym, one of the largest in Indiana. He knew John Longfellow, the coach for the Muncie Central Bearcats, one of the best teams in the state. I got to go into the locker room after the game, another brush with greatness. Other than the annual high school basketball tournament, this venue mainly hosted some concerts, professional wrestling with Dick the Bruiser, and Roller Derby matches when the Bay City Bombers would come to town. Before single-class basketball was eliminated, I watched a classic battle for high school supremacy from our Hoosier Dome suite that I could never had imagined when I first went to Hoosier Hysteria games with my dad. A national record 41,046 were in attendance in 1990 when future I.U. star Damon Bailey led Bedford North Lawrence to the title, upsetting top rated and undefeated Concord High School and future NBA star Shawn Kemp 63-60. Concord was only about 15 minutes south of my hometown. It would be the last of 61 consecutive IHSAA finals sell-outs. 

By my 10th birthday, I had lost interest in the Yankees and took my dad’s suggestion of picking a team closer to home. As the White Sox played in the 1959 World Series, I was able to watch on black & white TV my catching idol, Sherm Lollar of the Sox play for the first time. We did go to a few games to see him in person, but I never got to meet the man. He and his teammates have become the main focus of my baseball card collection and lifelong allegiance to the Sox. 

I wrestled in high school and ran some track, but sports surprisingly were not a priority. Elkhart High was a big school with over 1000 students in my graduating class. We were state champions in football, wrestling, cross-county, and track, but I remember only occasionally going to Blue Blazer games or meets. I chose Albion College in Michigan after actually considering Purdue and played some intramural flag football for East Hall and eventually my fraternity Sigma Chi. I probably also attended a homecoming football game to watch the Britons. My frat brothers were hot on hockey and talked me into a Red Wings game. I also went to Milwaukee in 1971 as a weekend getaway and ended up at my first NBA game to watch Lew Alcinder and the eventual champion Bucks’. Outside of Chicago baseball, these games were my initial foray into professional sports. 

A year later, I transferred to Indiana University, rode for the Sigma Chi Little 500 team, and settled into an apartment with my high school classmate, Alan. I do not remember going to an I.U. game at the old fieldhouse, but I do recall a blowout win against Notre Dame at the new Assembly Hall. I met George McGinnis at a party and began to follow the Hoosiers. I must have come back to Indianapolis in 1971 from Bloomington to see my high school team compete for a state championship. I couldn’t get tickets for the game that was played at historic Hinkle Fieldhouse on the campus of Butler University where the movie Hoosiers was filmed. I ended up watching the game on TV at the Sigma Chi house across the street. The Blue Blazers topped New Castle, and future I.U. big man, Kent Benson 75-70 in 3-overtimes. Benson led the undefeated Hoosiers to an NCAA title in 1976, an accomplishment that hasn’t since been repeated. A loaded East Chicago Washington squad won the championship game 70-60, but without ticket connections, I must have gone back to Bloomington. Ironically, I would never have to want for a ticket ever again!

I do remember getting excited about I.U. basketball when they made it to the Final Four in 1973 but lost to UCLA. I had a flat tire that morning and badly cut my hand on a piece of glass trying to fix it. I still have the scar as a reminder. The next few years, despite marriage and the birth of Adam, I became obsessed with basketball for the first time since I played in grade school and went to basketball camp. 

I began to follow sports even more once I got in the radio business and began to sell sponsorships for Blue Blazers basketball and football, plus Hoosier Hysteria, Notre Dame, Purdue, and I.U. games throughout the season. Eventually, our family moved to Ft. Wayne, another hockey town, anchored by the Comets on our 50,000-watt competitor and music became my major selling point. Free concert tickets and trade were job bonuses. Plus, working with our National rep I began to travel to New York City, Boston, Chicago, and Detroit. I went to Yankee Stadium, Fenway Park, and Tiger Stadium. I also worked a deal with the Chicago Sting and played against the Harlem Globetrotters. However, it wasn’t until I got the job at WIBC radio in Indianapolis that I truly found my calling. I now had the Indianapolis 500, Colts, Indians, and Pacers to promote.

As a newcomer to the Capital City, I was asked by station management to host our suite for the Coca-Cola Circle City Classic.  It was more than a football game between two black universities, it was a halftime battle of the band’s extravaganza. Apparently, no one else wanted to do it! This was my first experience with entertaining at events and would become the key to seeing every major sporting event or concert that came to town. The station had suite and hospitality access at Market Square Arena, Indianapolis Motor Speedway, Hoosier Dome, and Victory Field. I also made my own partnership deals for racing through The Machinists Union, BRG Sports, Blackburn Sports Marketing, and Indianapolis Raceway Park. Many of these deals transitioned with me when I moved to WISH-TV. In addition, CBS Sports had almost every major sporting event from the Masters to the Superbowl, along with baseball and the Olympics. 

Beat The Pro was a promotion we sold at the insistence of my golf-loving boss. I had to spend most weekends on the golf course measuring distances to the pin. The only benefit for me was tickets to a White Sox suite, another memorable sports experience. I also earned a similar day at the park with the Wheel of Fortune syndicators. I was never in a suite at Wrigley, but they did have a club that served hot dogs on fancy Cubs’ china plates. They have since updated their facilities. 

During my time in Indy, I attended and worked with the AAA Indians at Bush Stadium where we had both press box seats and season tickets. I once celebrated on the field with Randy Johnson after a league championship. In addition, I frequently took clients to Colts training camp and on the field. World Gymnastics once did an exhibition, the U.S. Track and Field Championships and NCAA Finals provided autograph sessions with Gayle Devers and Michael Johnson, the PGA Championship came to Crooked Stick Country Club, while John Daly was the upset winner. NCAA Swimming and Diving was another big draw for the city. I also had ringside seats for a gruesome light heavyweight bout won by Marvin Johnson. Finally, I sat many times on the floor to watch the Pacers and Reggie Miller, including the NBA Playoffs. 

When I moved to Lafayette, it was all Purdue, but I.U. came to town at least once a year in basketball and every other year in football. I quickly learned that when Purdue won, business was better, so I put my Hoosier allegiance on hold. Plus, my mother-in-law was a big Boiler fan, so I presented her with front row seats for a game. I also had press passes, hospitality, and a beautiful stadium suite. I got close to the Purdue Athletic Director, along with Black & Gold Magazine and expanded our local coverage with the Joe Tiller and Gene Keady Shows. My wife was at WISH, so we continued to benefit from suite access to concerts and events. We saw Cathedral, where her girls went to school, win the state high school football title at the Dome. We also went with clients to the RCA Tennis Championships, with hospitality and great seats. During that timeframe, I played on the WISH softball team, as well as the traveling Pearson Group club, that appeared in the Media World Series held in Dallas, Phoenix, and Ft. Lauderdale. Add three more World Series to my list! I would eventually go to Omaha and the College World Series but only as a spectator. 

Most of my attention was still focused on racing, like the Indy 500, but I tried to diversify with other speed events like the U.S. National Drags and the Carquest Sprint Series at Raceway Park. They were each a far cry from the New Paris Speedway dirt track and the side-show demolition derby that I went to back in high school. While still part of the Indy media, I once spent an entire IndyCar season as a weekend warrior, going from track to track around the country. I was on the pit crew at Mid-Ohio and worked with sponsors at Elkhart Lake, Michigan International, the Milwaukee Mile, PIR, Monterey, and Laguna Seca. I also got tickets for the inaugural Las Vegas 400 Nascar Race. This all started when we would supplement our broadcast media packages with show car appearances, suite hospitality, driver endorsements, and sponsorship logos. However, in the month of May I was usually at the track with my all-access Gold Badge every day working these partnerships. 

Years later, the track expanded to include Nascar’s Brickyard 400, Formula One’s U.S. Grand Prix, an IROC Series, and the Brickyard Crossing PGA Championship. I was there for all four of these inaugural events and in the future secured tickets through my wife to the Daytona 500 and Austin’s Circuit of the Americas. We’ve also used her connections to see the Mariners and Seahawks in Seattle, the MLB All-Star Game/Home Run Derby in Miami, and several Portland Trail Blazer and Timbers MLS games, including a Playoff match. Most of the Blazer games were from the suite, but one was another unforgettable front-row seat. 

It’s been a long time since I’ve been back to Bloomington, but I’ve still managed to keep up with I.U. sports. I’ve been to Ann Arbor, Champaign, West Lafayette as previously mentioned, and East Lansing for games and went to Seattle to watch the baseball team play Oregon State at T-Mobile Stadium. I drove to both the Liberty Bowl and Independence Bowl to experience Hoosier football, but never smelled the roses. My wife and I also traveled up to North Texas for an I.U. gridiron loss against the Mean Green. I’ve seen the Hoosiers win at Conseco and Lucas Oil Stadium and lose year after year in the Big Ten Tournament. They did not make the Big Dance when it was held exclusively in Indy, but I was there in the midst of the pandemic. Hoosier soccer fell short in the championship game I attended in Santa Barbara with a college friend. Twice, I’ve followed the Hoosiers to Hawaii for the Maui Classic. On the first occasion I met Bob Knight and got his autograph. 

The Oregon Ducks became a favorite when we moved to Portland. I’ve been to both Autzen Stadium and Matthew Knight Arena. I’ve also seen them win in the Rose Quarter aka Moda Center for two Phil Knight events. Oregon State also played there. Plus, friends and I went to two Les Schwab Invitationals to watch several prospective college recruits impress the scouts. While living in central Illinois, we supported the Illini, so Assembly Hall was our new home for basketball and Memorial Stadium for football. I sat with retired Coach Lou Henson for a game. 

On the NBA front, I’ve been to America West in Phoenix to watch the Suns, Orlando to see the Magic at Amway Center, and to San Antonio’s AT&T Center for the Spurs, long after that initial big-time-basketball exposure at Milwaukee County Stadium while I was still in college. The Pacers and Blazers were the result of station-owned season tickets. The Knicks were always the favorite team to visit, especially when Reggie and Spike Lee were at each other’s throats.

I’ve never been to the Olympics but have experienced the Olympic Track & Field Trials in Eugene after it was delayed a year due to Covid. I also sat and watched the Olympic Freestyle Championships in both Breckenridge, Colorado and Stowe, Vermont when I was there on ski trips. Speaking of games on ice, exposure to the game of hockey has been sadly limited to the Ft. Wayne Comets, Indianapolis Ice, the Detroit Redwings 50 years ago, and the Portland Winterhawks a few years ago at Veteran’s Memorial Coliseum

Another of my bucket list goals, was a Super Bowl. We had access to tickets every year but never wanted to pay the price. It likely will never happen, but I certainly can’t complain about a lack of big tickets throughout my lifetime. I thought about going to Miami when the Colts played the Bears, but honestly couldn’t decide on which team to support.  My first football love was Johnny Unitas and the Baltimore Colts, who conveniently moved to Indianapolis in the middle of the night. However, the ’85 Bears had pushed the needle once again to Chicago sports. I’ve been to Soldier Field and continue to follow the Bears after all these frustrating years. I’ve worked closely with the Colts players and coaches through the years and have been to several Playoff home games. Road games have been in Houston and Chicago. I saw the Bears play in Indy. 

The one Chicago team that has had the most success is the Bulls. I was never a fan and actually picked a suite game the year after Michael Jordan retired. I tried to give them away, but no one was interested. The Pacers Market Square Arena suite was nothing more than a long couch in a closet positioned behind a glass panel. It was hardly fit for entertaining but came with extra tickets and a bartender. At the last minute, I ended up giving them to Adam and hours later M.J. announced his return. They were suddenly the hottest tickets in town and Adam reaped the benefit. His friends were even previously reluctant to go, but I remember his pager (prime technology at that time) buzzing like a hive of wasps on our coffee table just before game time. It was certainly one of his greatest sports moments. We probably could have made a fortune selling them, but scalping was illegal, and they were technically the station’s tickets. I just didn’t want to go through the hassle of unloading them because no one really knew I had somehow picked them at the beginning of the season. 

Baseball has endured as a consistent favorite from early childhood throughout today. I’ve already shared my stories of Chicago and Detroit games growing up and the four World Series attended. I never went to a college baseball game in Bloomington but got into it when we lived in Austin and learning the phenomenal record of longtime coach Texas Longhorn coach, Augie Garrido, who won two College World Series in his tenure. It was really the first time that I sat down and watched the entire tournament, inspiring me to attend one day. While in Portland, I began to follow the Oregon State Beavers and went to a few of their games at Hillsboro Stadium, home of the Hops, and at Portland State. 

I enjoy baseball but it’s often boring, too many times ideal for a nap. It’s easier to mention the Major League stadiums I haven’t been to: Milwaukee’s Miller Park, Minneapolis, San Diego, Philadelphia, Arlington’s Globe Life Field, Atlanta, Montreal, Arizona, and Oakland. Two stadiums, Coors Field and Progressive Park in Cleveland I’ve only just jogged around, while I saw the Texas Rangers play in their former Arlington home from a luxury suite. Our Dallas TV station carried their games, but Covid prohibited a planned visit to the new facility two years ago. I’ve also been to Minor League Stadiums in Round Rock, Texas to see The Express, Jupiter Beach for the Cardinals, Surprise AZ,  Charlottesville FL, Hohocum Scottsdale, and Cool Today, our neighborhood Braves Spring Training facility. The other day I drove around the Baltimore Orioles’ Buck O’Neil complex in nearby Sarasota. 

Visits to Cooperstown, the College Football Hall of Fame, and recently the NFL Hall of Fame rekindled many emotional sports memories. Recently, my wife and I went to see our local Venice High School Indians host a football playoff game, with thoughts of her two girls at the Hoosier Dome championship game we all went to before our marriage years ago. My dad gave me a love of sports at all levels, and we shared this passion throughout life. It continues with Adam and his favorite teams since childhood, the Dolphins and Cubs. What will be our next great moment? 






Old Sport Shorts: Top 10 Sports Moments #2257

I’ve certainly had my share of great stadium accommodations, including luxury suites for the Colts, Pacers, St. Louis Cardinals, Longhorns, Purdue, Texas Rangers, Indianapolis Motor Speedway, Circuit of America, Portland Trailblazers, and Chicago White Sox, plus front-row seats for the Pacers, I.U., Trailblazers, Boilermakers, and Notre Dame. I’ve been on the field, in the pits, sat in the Press Box, celebrated on the court, and frequented numerous VIP sections and hospitality rooms watching a variety of sports from the Domes to the Velodromes. With this in mind, I’m challenged to pick my Top 10 Lifetime Greatest Sports Moments. 

Although we didn’t have the usual great seats, we were fortunate to even secure tickets to Game 5 of the first World Series at Wrigley Field to see the Cubs win on Halloween Eve of 2016 (#3). The night before we were there for the loss against the Indians. (#4) Both games will forever be near the top of my list, but overall, I’ve been to four World Series in three cities, Chicago, St. Louis, and Cincinnati. The White Sox opening game win against the Astros at Cellular One in 2005 was the beginning of a four-game sweep. I had media passes for that game and rode with my WAND-TV camera crew. (#5).

Several other unforgettable events for me happened at Wrigley, including Sammy Sosa’s 61st and 62 homers on Sunday, September 13, 1998. (#6) My dad, son, and best friend were with me that day. The following year on Opening Day a special Tribute was held for announcer Harry Karay on April 3rd. He died February 18, 1998, and never got to watch that great season-ending showdown between Mark McGwire and Sosa. McGwire was the home-run king with 70, but both have failed to make the Hall of Fame after steroid suspicions. Adam, Gavyn, and I have a commemorative brick at the park thanks to my wife. The “3-generations” first got together for a game on September 10, 2007, and the Cubs won 12-3 over the rival Cardinals. (#7).

The top two moments on my list would have to be at the Louisiana Superdome in 1987 when I.U. Basketball won the National Championship. Keith Smart’s winning shot happened in front of my eyes on Monday, March 30, 1987, against Syracuse. (#1). Two days earlier, Steve Alford beat UNLV on the same court. (#2) It was an unbelievable road trip with Bill, Mark, and two close friends of Peter, who set the whole trip up but couldn’t go because his father passed. 

The three final Top 10 sports moments were more about the transportation than the events themselves. A friend flew me to Bloomington on his private plane from Ft. Wayne for an I.U. basketball game. I don’t remember the date or game details, but this special V.I.P. treatment will always stand out in my mind. (#8). Similarly in 1998, I was whisked into the Indianapolis Motor Speedway by helicopter while entertaining our television station owner, Craig McCaw. A golf cart took us to the Hullman Suite to watch the race and the same chopper brought us back downtown, avoiding the massive crowds. (#9) Last but not least was the Chauferred, PINK limousine that took two close friends and I to a big Monday Night Colts Game at the Hoosier Dome. It was Halloween night, and we wore costumes that you had to see to believe. One buddy and I were dressed as George Dickel whisky bottles with a twist-off cap as headgear. The other pal was Colts running back star Eric Dickerson, but in this case, “Dickelson.” Each of us wore pink tights. On the back of our outfits, it read, “We’re Dickeled Pink to be here.” Never, have we attracted more attention, including a newspaper article with pictures. We, of course, celebrated the victory with shots of George Dickel. (#10).


Old Sport Shorts: The Death of 60 #2249

I have written on many occasions about the “Rule of 60” or the “Magic of 60” in following Indiana University basketball through the years. Looking back on the beginning of last season, I thought that the Bobby Knight magic might have been reincarnated with the hiring of Coach Mike Woodson. Defense was once again a priority as I reread Post #1950 and expectations were high. They have now sunk to a new low after Penn State’s record 18 3-pointers. Two more and they would have gotten sixty-points from solely beyond the arc. 

The first to 60 usually wins, was my magical formula for victory, dating back to a McDonald’s promotion when I was in college. It was a simple challenge – hold the opponent under 60 and you win free food. This was before the 3-point shot was ever a factor, but I still find that 60 rules! It remains a magical mark in college basketball, but not of late for Indiana. It worked in their only Big Ten victory so far this season against Nebraska with the score 62-41 with 9:23 remaining in the game. It also took a historical triple-double from Trayce Jackson-Davis. Only Steve Downing in 1971 and Juwan Morgan in 2018 had achieved this feat. 

The Hoosiers then almost pulled out a victory against Arizona after trailing by 19 early but narrowed the gap to only 59-56 before the bottom fell out. TJD was showing signs of back problems and did not play the next two games against Elon or Kennisaw State, but the worst was yet to come. Kansas easily got to 60 first, leading 60-42 at the 11:35 mark after the porous Hoosier defense gave up 44 in the first half. Xaviar Johnson suffered a broken foot in this 23-turnover disaster. Kennisaw State hit their first 5-3’s and surprisingly matched the short-staffed Hoosiers through the first half only to fall 69-55. 

After the New Year, with Jackson-Davis back in the lineup against Iowa, Race Thompson went down with a knee injury while the Hoosiers raced to an impressive 21-point road lead. The Hawkeyes battled back to make it 59-58 with 12:40 remaining and took their first lead a minute later at 61-58. IU did get to 60 first but after squandering such a big lead the “Rule of 60” did not hold up and Iowa prevailed 91-89. Northwestern then easily beat us to 60 at home with 41-points in the first half and an 84-83 upset despite 33 from Jalen Hood-Schifino. That brings us up to the 85-66 debacle at Penn State, our largest loss margin against the Nittany Lions in history.

Here we stand at 1-4 in the BIG with pre-season expectations of a championship long unrealized. Wisconsin is next to come to Bloomington with a 5-game winning streak and 9-1 record over the hapless Hoosiers in recent match-ups. It gets even worse if you go back to 2010 with the Badgers dominating 20-3. It does not look promising for the hobbled Cream and Crimson, especially after already proving that they are vulnerable even at Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall. It will take a lot of magic to win this game and right the sinking ship. 

Giving up on average nearly 70-points a game, IU defense is far from magical. #1 Houston gives up only 52.9-ppg. Keeping your opponent under 60, among other factors, is what it takes to be a top contender. Sadly, at least so far, it’s the death of 60 for this year’s Hoosiers. 

Old Sport Shorts: Stuck on 59 #2219

The game I was looking most forward to seeing was against North Carolina. From this fan’s perspective, the Tarheels were always a very satisfying victory, especially when Dean Smith was at the helm. I.U. was not involved in the first Final Four that I attended in New Orleans back in 1982. I remember how polite and proper the Tarheel fans seemed in their less than intimidating powder blue outfits, while the women wore white gloves, befitting a lady of the South. It did not seem to match the fierceness of the other three teams fighting for the NCAA crown. Yet, they did it over the Georgetown Hoyas, and I was blue with envy.

“The General” paid a visit to a practice leading up to this big home game. He was particularly successful in finding ways to beat North Carolina in critical games, even with less talented personnel. I’m sure his presence in the locker room was inspirational to these young players and Coach Woodson, despite Bob Knight’s failing health. This team is built around solid defense and undoubtedly this was part of the message.

I originated “The Magic of Sixty” theory watching Coach Knight’s teams through the years. I believe that Coach Woodson is a student of his protégé’s philosophy, even if this number is meaningless to him. I’ve tried to back it with as much history and research as possible to prove the point. The most critical part of any I.U. basketball game is the stretch between scoring fifty and sixty points. Whoever gets there first or prohibits their opponent from getting there first is usually the winner.

“The Magic” proved once again to be there in this Bloomington Battle, as I poured over the statistics. At the 8:02 mark, Trey Galloway made a jumper to make it 59-47, a step away from the threshold to victory. However, the quest stalled and it wasn’t until 5:59, over two minutes later, that Galloway’s twisting layup made it 71-52. Fortunately, the Tarheels only put 5-points on the board in that important stretch of surpassing 60.

The 77-65 final was the first time in 7-games that Hoosier scoring didn’t exceed 80, but it really only took 60 points to seal the win. All the hype leading up to this battle was over. Last year’s National Champion runner-up and this year’s pre-season favorite had just lost their third consecutive game. And the most encouraging part was that it wasn’t the result of a last-second shot, a random night of sizzling shooting, or even a standout performance from an unexpected hero. It was the total dissection of a perennial powerhouse. As a result, the Hoosiers will stay in the Top 10 for the first time since 2017. The only concern is the 7-25 three-point shooting in the first two real tests of the 2022-23 season.

Trayce Jackson Davis added what has become a consistent double-double performance, with Senior sidekick Xavier Johnson nearly matching his leadership, A freshman, Jalen Hood-Schifino, and junior, Galloway showed that I.U. has once again become a National power and will be for years to come. Next up is Rutgers and the start of the BIG 10 schedule.




Retirement is not without Hassles: Normalcy #2215

After the Alaska/Hawaii adventure, we’ve finally gotten back into the retirement routine, just in time to leave again. We had dinner guests last night and afterwards watched another episode of Yellowstone. I was monitoring the I.U. soccer revenge match against Marshall, the team that stole their NCAA Championship away last year. We already have achieved eight titles, but that is never enough, as the Hoosiers once again make it into the Elite Eight. They play UNC Greensboro this Saturday for a Final Four bid. It almost makes up for a miserable performance in the Old Oaken Bucket game, another loss to Purdue. The Boilers were fueled by a potential trip to the BIG Championship game in Indianapolis, as the Western Division winner, a first for the program. Their accomplishment here was partially attributed to the schedulers that left both Ohio State and Michigan off their list of opponents this year. 

Purdue had a huge weekend of success on the basketball court as well, crowned as the PK Tourney Champions out in Portland. Decisive victories over Gonzaga and Duke moved them to #5 in the polls, overshadowing a Hoosier move into the Top 10, a lofty position they haven’t held in years. It also means that the Boilers are now the BIG favorites for conference dominance. I.U. was the preseason choice, so both schools are getting plenty of attention in the press. The Hoosiers face struggling North Carolina two days from now after the Tarheels dropped dramatically from #1 to #19 with back-to-back losses. I.U. was hoping to take down another top-rated team in Bloomington, but instead they are now the betting favorite. 

With the recent Purdue success, I’m reminded of the Joe Berry Carroll teams under George King that went to the finals of the 1979 NIT and 1980 Final Four. The big guy this year is Zach Edey at a towering 7’4.” He was named the MVP at the PK Tourney and will be a force in the BIG 10. It’s great that both P.U. and I.U. are good this year and there will be no conflict until they meet head-to-head where I always pull for the Hoosiers, my alma mater. 

There was no time to write this morning after my 5k run due to a stops at Home Depot, Wawa, and the chiropractor. We were then able to officially make it “Matinee Monday” with the movie, The Fabelman’s. Our other typical weekly kickoff tradition, “Meatless Monday” was met with a ham salad sandwich violation since we had so much left over from Thanksgiving. We will not honor either of these routines over the next few weeks in Hawaii. It will also be difficult to keep up with writing this daily blog and getting in my daily run, with all the time changes, island family activities, and overnight stopovers in Seattle. By the time we get back to Florida, we’ll once again be fighting jet lag and the challenge of getting back to what we see as retirement “normalcy.” 

Old Sport Shorts: Hoosier Tip-Off Classic #2212

The 2022 Cream & Crimson were off to a undefeated (4-0) campaign start going into the game against Little Rock. The real early season tests, however, for the Hoosiers loomed ahead, between the holidays, with #1 North Carolina coming to Bloomington for the ACC-BIG Ten Challenge, #11 Arizona meeting them in Las Vegas, and #3 Kansas hosting at Allen Fieldhouse. Any sane fan would be satisfied with one victory in those three pre-conference match-ups. Then, it was on to the BIG, with the first game at Iowa after the New Year. WOW!

Little Rock exposed our shooting problems. The Hoosiers were 1-8 from beyond the arc in the first half. Trey Galloway, Anthony Leal, and Trayce Jackson-Davis did not dress, while Malik Reneau and Race Thompson spent time in the locker room for injury treatment. Race played the second half in a headband to cover the bandage near his temple. Miller Kopp hit three straight threes after the break, Race Thompson had two athletic dunks coupled with four free-throws, and Xavier Johnson hit another two freebies at 12:09 to reach the magic sixty goal with a 15-point bulge. Little Rock responded to cut the margin to seven, but Jordan Geronimo’s three stopped their momentum and Xavier Johnson soon added another. At that point, the Hoosiers were 6-17 from deep, showing improvement for a 17-point lead. The “X-Man” with ten assists and Geronimo’s fifth block pushed the lead to 21.

It was the 5th consecutive game over eighty, but I.U. had twelve sloppy turnovers in the 87-68 victory.
As an encore, I.U. finished off the Hoosier Tip-Off Classic with its sixth consecutive 80-point-plus outpouring to start the season, topping Jackson State 90-51 in Bloomington. It was another tune-up performance in preparation for #1 North Carolina to end the month of November. With a few nagging injuries hampering our big men, Sophomore guard Tamar Bates led all scorers with 22-points including four 3-pointers. The defense held the Tigers to well under the magic number of 60, while the offense got there with 12:40 remaining on a Trayce Jackson-Davis dunk. The Hoosiers shot 57.6% from the floor, 45.5% from three-point range, and 75% from the free throw line, with ten turnovers. Bring on the Tarheels!

Old Sport Shorts: 2022 Tip-Off #2205

The Hurryin’ Hoosiers made their national debut in the Gavett Games at Xavier and barely escaped with a 81-79 victory. I bring the nickname “Hurryin'” out of moth balls from the Branch McCracken coaching era because I got the sense that they were playing somewhat out of control. Although they had only 11 turnovers, four were by Senior Xavier Johnson to go with his 23-points. All-American candidate Trayce Jackson-Davis led all scorers with 30, while Freshman Malik Reneau added 12 and a key deflection on the last Musketeer lay-up attempt. This was after he missed two free throws that could have iced the game. It was a great physical test that will pay dividends during the upcoming rugged BIG conference battles. 

Indiana led 78-70 with 2:25 left but Xavier rallied to within a point in the final minute. I.U put magic on their side when they reached the 60-point mark first with 10:08 remaining. A Musketeer three then tied it up 27-seconds later, one of seven from long distance. I.U. only managed 4-triples but shot an outstanding 51.7% overall from the field. Free-throw shooting was the biggest concern at only 65.4% and kept Xavier in the game. Defense was suspect, giving up 79 points. Last year’s Woodson squad beat Minnesota 84-79, but lost all six games where they allowed 80 or more points. 

It was Indiana’s first non-conference road victory in eleven seasons, dating back to North Carolina State in November of 2011. A road victory like this is a monumental step forward for this veteran Hoosier team that has amassed a pitiful14-40 record away from home in the last 5-years. Coach Mike Woodson, who replaced Archie Miller two seasons ago got his first victory over Archie’s brother, Sean, who was rehired by Xavier, where he was A-10 Coach of the Year in 2008, then spent 12-years at Arizona where he earned Pac-12 Coach of the Year three times. Hopefully, this season will be the start of Woodson’s coaching honors. Defense and 3-point shot efficiency will be the measures of success. 

I.U. football plays at Michigan State this afternoon, after being pounded by Michigan last Saturday. Let’s hope for a less embarrassing effort today. Big Red soccer meets storied St. Louis tomorrow, after being named the 13-seed in this year’s NCAA tourney. It is a record 9th straight seed selection for the 8-time national champions. St. Louis University has ten to their credit but the last was in 1973. All of IU’s titles have been since 1982. Mike Woodson’s squad also is back in action tomorrow against Miami of Ohio. Go Hoosiers!

Retirement is not without Hassles: Go Big Red #2197

My wife is still asleep while I peck away at the keyboard. The dark rain clouds are conducive for snoozing, while Tally is in no hurry to go to the dog park, knowing that it would entail putting on her rain suit again. I already had her outside for a quick one earlier, so she’s content with a lazy Thursday morning. I fought the wind and rain to get my mile in this morning. It was great with the breeze at my back but a struggle running into it. One car braved the conditions that could have been a lot worse. Hurricane Nicole stuck the east coast last night and is making her way northwest. Fortunately, we are not in the path, so I’m sure our insurance agent, also named Nicole, is relieved. I already have a call into Nicole from Ian’s recent damage, but she is already apparently so busy that she’s yet to get back with me. 

We have a busy social week coming up, including a party tomorrow night, “Meet the Neighbors” pitch-in on Saturday, Sunday brunch with recent acquaintances, “Matinee Monday,” and a Tuesday cocktail party. I’ll also have a chiropractor appointment, tooth cleaning, blood donation to make, and a much anticipated service call from the refrigerator repairman. I also planned to pick up my grandson from school this afternoon, but classes were cancelled in lieu of Nicole. I’m feeling lucky that the storm is nothing more than lots of rain and wind. I don’t thing it’s enough to bring down more trees, power lines, and roof tiles in our neighborhood.

I started watching Power of the Rings yesterday and joined my wife last evening for the season finale of Handmaid’s Tale. We then got through another episode of The Bear before I sat through the final half  of the I.U. soccer victory over highly-touted Maryland. The Terps had stolen the regular season conference title from the Hoosiers on a last minute tying goal. “Revenge was a dish served just ten days later,” as I.U. now moves on to the BIG Championship game against Rutgers on Sunday. It’s a record-tying sixth straight year that they’ve advanced to the tourney title match. Hoosier basketball action against Bethune-Cookman is on my calendar for tonight, but tomorrow’s expected football massacre against Ohio State should probably best be ignored. Nonetheless, Go Big Red!

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