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Category: Purdue University Boilermakers (Page 1 of 9)

Purdue University Boilermakers P.U.

Old Sport Shorts: Dan the Man #2508

As an Indiana University basketball loyalist, I rarely offer kudos to other college programs, let alone those in the East. I know that over the course of time, jealousy will prevail, and I will learn to hate the man. However, I wrote about their success with my “Rule of 60” last year, and this year is no different. Dan is the new Bobby, and I don’t mean his dad or brother. He’s the new Robert Montgomery Knight. Since the departure of Knight from the Hoosiers, no team has exemplified the power of 60 any better. Plus, he’s doing it while battling the never more popular three-point shot. 

Last year his Huskies beat San Diego State 76-59 to win it all. This year Purdue was the victim of his defense 75-60. From an offensive standpoint, the 1967-69 UCLA Bruins and their legendary Coach, John Wooden and Hurley’s 2022-24 UConn squads are the only other teams to win back-to-back titles by 15+ points. Knight was never able to join the back-to-back club, although he came close in 1974-1976, joining Wooden with an undefeated National champion. Neither of those coaches played 40-games in one season like UConn.

In that 40-game span this season the Huskie defense held opponents to 60-points or less 17 times, winning each time to finish 37-3, including Indiana 77-57. Of the six NCAA Tourney games that UConn played, 5 were won in this manner, plus two of three in the Big East Tournament. They capped of the season with “Magical” victories over three more BIG teams, 75-58 over Northwestern, Illinois 77-52, and Purdue75-60.

The three games the top-rated Huskies lost were at Kansas 69-65, at Seton Hall 75-60, and at Creighton 86-66. The Pirates, who went on to win the NIT, were the only team to reverse the 60 “magic” on UConn. The BIG East, lived up to being the BIGGEST Conference of all, winning both major post season titles, another fact I hate to admit.

When it comes to the three setbacks, well anyone can have a few bad nights, especially on the road. The first one this year was at Kansas when the Jayhawks got to 60 first at 61-54, just ahead of the final media timeout.  Hurley’s Huskies shot a season-low from the three-point line but made 11 of them to stay in the game. UConn pulled back within two late and had a look at a 3-pointer to take a lead in the final seconds, but it rimmed out and KU was able to ice the game. 

Conference foe, Seton Hall, got to them next in decisive fashion 75-60, performing a little reverse magic. The Huskies finished 22-of-58 (37.9 percent) from the floor and 4-of-21 (19.0 percent) from 3-point range. Conversely, Seton Hall shot 29-of-56 (51.8 percent) from the floor and was 3-of-8 from 3-point range. In the home rematch a few weeks later, “Dan the Man” Hurley got revenge, 91-61.

In the third and final loss, before their 13-game run to the Championship, UConn ran into a Creighton buzzsaw 85-66 in Omaha, their last loss of the season. The Huskies were-out shot 44.1 percent to 54.7 percent, but the game’s key difference came behind the 3-point line – UConn shot 3-of-16 (18.7%) from deep while Creighton finished 14-of-28 (50%).

Congratulations to the Huskies and while I’m being a good sport and handing out accolades to the enemy, I’m also envious of the rival Purdue Boilermakers. Coach Matt Painter rallied the team from last year’s disappointment. However, UConn was just too much, but that doesn’t take away from a great Purdue campaign, while reaching their first NCAA Championship game in 64-years and adding a sweep of the Hoosiers. Until the start of next season, “Boiler Up!”

 

 

 

 

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Old Sport Shorts: I.U. vs. P.U. #2474

I continue to emphasize the importance of getting to 60 points first in the game of college basketball. Due to surgery, I was unable to watch the next few games as three-straight I.U. opponents took advantage of “The Rule” and handed the Hoosiers a trio of BIG losses. The first was Purdue who led 60-51 with just about 13-minutes left on the fast track to an 87-66 victory at Assembly Hall. According to reports, Zach Edey The 7-foot-4 senior “drew fouls, made shots and even chased loose balls,” finishing with 33 points and 14 rebounds while leading the second-ranked Boilermakers to the 21-point rout. Trey Galloway scored 17 points and Mackenzie Mgbako had 15, but Indiana trailed for the final 37 minutes, most of that time by double digits, after falling into an early 25-13 hole and a 51-29 deficit at halftime.

 Indiana has gone entire seasons without losing at Assembly Hall, including 1973, 1975, 1976, 1987, 1992, 1993, 1994, 2007, and 2016. This loss to the Boilermakers ranked fourth on the list. Here are the worst home losses in the modern era:

  1. February 25, 2010 – 32-point loss to Wisconsin

  2. February 25, 2009 – 22-point loss to Northwestern

  3. November 10, 2017 – 21-point loss to Indiana State

  4. January 16, 2024 21-point loss to Purdue

  5. January 27, 1977 – 19-point loss to Minnesota

  6. January 24, 1990 – 18-point loss to Michigan State

  7. March 6, 2004 – 18-point loss to Wisconsin

  8. December 31, 2010 – 18-point loss to Ohio State

  9. January 6, 1977 – 17-point loss to Purdue

  10. February 19, 2009 – 17-point loss to Wisconsin

  11. December 12, 2009 – 17-point loss to Kentucky

  12. February 10, 2010 – 17-point loss to Ohio State

  13. February 3, 2024 – 14-point loss to Penn State

There was then no rest for the weary as the Hoosiers traveled to Wisconsin for a 91-79 beating. Max Klesmit scored 20 consecutive Wisconsin points during a second-half span of just over 4 1/2 minutes, and the 11th-ranked Badgers prevailed. To add to the ugliness, this time it was C.J. Gunn who was ejected as the Badgers won the “race to 60” with the tally showing 61-47 and13:07 left. Wisconsin (14-4, 6-1 Big Ten) had now won its last 20 home games against Indiana and hadn’t lost to the Hoosiers in Madison since 1998, the Kohl Center’s inaugural season. Indiana (12-7, 4-4) was missing top rebounder and second-leading scorer, 7-foot Kel’el Ware due to a lower-leg injury. Malik Reneau scored 28 points, Mackenzie Mgbako 17, and Trey Galloway 10 for struggling Indiana.

It was then on to Champaign and another thrashing 70-62 by the #10 Illini. After a 60-56 Illinois lead at the 3:01 mark, Terrence Shannon Jr. made six free throws in the final minute. Indiana actually tied the game at 62 to keep things interesting with 1:29 left on a basket by Mackenzie Mgbako, part of his 12-point contribution. Malik Reneau, who scored 21 points for Indiana (12-8, 4-5), fouled out with 3:02 left. Xavier Johnson had 14 points while Ware once again was sidelined.

Iowa then came to town and IU managed to top the scoreboard 74-68 despite squandering a 17-point lead. It was Anthony Leal’s time to finally shine, scoring a career-high 13. Kel’el Ware returned with a 23-point effort including a free throw at 5:43 for a 60-58 advantage. Iowa came back to tie it at 60, but the Hoosiers prevailed in spite of both a Reneau ankle injury and Xavier Johnson’s banged-up elbow late in the game.

The Nittany Lions then came to Assembly Hall but I.U. couldn’t capitalize on the home court advantage, adding Penn State to the list of worst home losses.  Malik Reneau came back to play, after missing practice while Johnson remained out of the lineup. Penn State (10-11, 5-6 Big Ten) hadn’t beaten Indiana in Bloomington since a 66-65 win on Feb. 12, 2014. At 11:05, the hot-shooting Nittany Lions were up 61-48 on the way to the 85-71 upset. 

Kel’el Ware scored 17 of his 25 points in the first half for the Hoosiers. Malik Reneau added 16 points, MacKenzie Mgbako 13, and Trey Galloway 12 for the Hoosiers.

After this disheartening 1-3 stretch, the team headed to Columbus. Xavier Johnson didn’t dress, and I.U. trailed by 18 points twice in the second half, 47-29 at 18:58 and again 49-31 with 17:39 remaining. The Buckeyes even won the battle to 60, cruising to a 60-47 lead at 10:33 on a Dale Bonner three and all seemed futile. Then, the resilient Hoosiers mounted an incredible comeback by a 29-13 margin capped by Anthony Leal’s two free throws to win 76-73.

Here’s what Coach Woodson said after the game: “I thought tonight Gallo was huge in the second half. Our defense was solid in the second half, you hold this team to 31 points, that was the difference in getting back into the ballgame. Gallo coming down the stretch and Anthony making the big three was huge. Then getting the stop we needed when we stole the ball. It was big.”

Thus, the tale of two halves: Ohio State shot 50% in the first half and just 32% in the second but finished 24 for 27 at the line. Indiana shot 33% in the opening period and 55% after halftime. Galloway scored 19 second-half points and Reneau added 16 for the Hoosiers, combining for 51 of IU’s total points. Ware played just 10 minutes in the first half before picking up two fouls, and four total fouls in the game limited him to just 26 minutes. He then awkwardly landed on his leg and limped off the court. Ultimately, the careless Hoosiers gave up 22-points on 12 turnovers but still managed to win.

It didn’t get any easier as the wounded Hoosiers (14-9, 6-6) then traveled up I-65 to West Lafayette and once again squared off with #2 Purdue (21-2, 10-2). The Boilers were a perfect 11-0 at Mackey, so fan expectations were low. Would there be magic or more misery?

Old Sport Shorts: North Alabama #2454

Purdue looked unstoppable, easily defending their new #1 status over Jacksonville 100-57. Everyone in the BIG seems to be routing their Holiday opponents but struggling I.U. just squeaked by Morehead State and couldn’t seem to pull away from North Alabama, leading 43-34 at halftime. Free throws continue to be an issue, finishing 9-14 from the charity stripe, while being matched by the less physical Lions in rebounding. Loose balls don’t bounce their way and the offense is subject to scoring stalls. The one positive was three-point shooting, a puzzling missing piece on this year’s team. However, North Alabama is apparently good for what ails ya’ as the Hoosiers hit a season-high twelve from behind the arc. It was the most in the Mike Woodson era, and only one off the mark from the last time the two teams played in December of 2020. It’s been three-years since I.U. has had that level of long-range production. 

Hopefully this is a sign of things to come rather than a blip on the radar screen. Malik Reneau led all scorers with 25, a career high for him on 4-4 three-point shooting and 10-14 overall. He even made his only free-throw. Mgbako added twelve and Walker 11, but most importantly seven different players scored from distance. North Alabama was only 9-32 afar in retaliation, an indication of our defensive improvements.

The final score was 83-66, after a Kel’el Ware dunk moved them over that magical sixty mark, 61-42 with 12:36 remaining on the clock. The up-and-down Hoosiers stand at 9-3 overall, but most importantly still on top of the BIG standings at 2-0. They next play Kennesaw State in Bloomington before returning to conference play at Nebraska on January 3rd. The three losses are against teams that are a combined 28-5: U. Conn, Auburn, and Kansas, all sure NCAA tournament selections. I.U. is still precariously on the bubble, but at least have yet to have what the committee considers to be a “bad” loss. 

Retirement is not without Hassles: Race Day #2446

Today was Race Day – my last 5k of this soon to expire running streak. What was the routine 3.1-mile distance just months ago was a bit of a push this morning as I finished on the warning track of Cool Today Park – the spring training home of the Atlanta Braves. It was my second Tomahawk 5k finish. I will return to 2.1 miles tomorrow, feeling a bit light- headed – one of the reasons I had cut back my mileage this past summer in anticipation of open- heart surgery. The 15-year streak will continue until January 15th, as months of recuperation will probably follow before I can start a new one. I had to laugh at myself as this now 72-year-old body slowly lumbered along the course, being passed by or never catching up to those older, younger, heavier, or even a woman limping along while wearing a boot. It took me 51-minutes to finish. Two years ago, I did it 8-minutes faster, earning my first of now two heavy medallions. At the end, I could barely pick my feet up, nearly tripping over the finish line strip at 249th out of 300 participants. 

I’m not sure how a bad heart affects my breathing and performance, but something just isn’t right. I will certainly know the difference after that recovery period. It feels like a bit of a chore breathing in and out, but I may not even remember what normal was like after years of monitoring the aneurysm that may even date back to birth. I remember having trouble breathing as a child after spending weeks in a hospital oxygen tent with bronchitis.  I haven’t really been sick since, but I should be in better shape after all the miles I’ve put in. I’ve noticed that the hardest part of even chair yoga is trying to synchronize air intake and output with exercise. This could be even psychological after learning about this heart issue years ago, even though I’ve had few other symptoms. 

I didn’t sleep well last night, despite using Vick’s to help sooth my breathing. My wife often complains that I have some annoying breathing habits, including some occasional snoring. I was certainly wound up after watching I.U. basketball win their first BIG conference game against Maryland. It was their best performance of the season. I was also monitoring #1 Purdue in their loss at Northwestern, and still struggle with the IU-PU rivalry, despite a career connection with both schools. To add to the adrenaline, former IU quarterback, Michael Penix Jr. prevailed in a Heisman battle with Oregon. I should have been rooting for the Ducks, but I have some good memories of Penix, rare in IU football history. I remember his last second dive into the endzone pylon that gave the Hoosiers a key win against Penn State. I guess once a Hoosier always a Hoosier!

I should have been supportive of the Purdue Boilermakers last night, but I would have rooted against any team that might threaten the unbeaten season of 1976 Indiana National Champions. Their 32-0 record has now stood for 47-years as the last team to survive both the season and tournament without a loss. It’s meaningful for me to hold on to that glory for as long as possible, because all records eventually get broken, just like my streak. However, today I celebrate another successful Race Day. 

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: 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 Skjodt 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. 

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).

 
 

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: Jonesin’ #2168

I’m Jonesin’ for a sports fix since I haven’t been in front of a TV for 20 days now. Plus, the game I last watched was the Packers beating my Bears, leaving a bad taste in my mouth. Today, is Game Day and I.U. lost another football game that I couldn’t thankfully see, while the nemesis Boilers stayed on track for a Bowl game invitation. The baseball playoffs are going on but all I can do is monitor the play-by-play on my phone. We’re in the middle of the Pacific Ocean on a cruise ship, and live TV or streaming is not available. The MLB app can’t figure out where I am. To make matters worse, both the White Sox and Cubs did not make it to the postseason. Even my high school team games, the most likely to win each week, is limited to just a score. Yes, the Elkhart Lions did win – 35-0.

I.U. Basketball’s annual “Hoosier Hysteria” event was yesterday, and although I’ve never been, at least at home there are opportunities to see some of the action. Can’t See at Sea! Right now, the Rays and Guardians are scoreless after 14 innings in a game of potential elimination, but I’m limited to the ESPN app updates. It will be another few days when I finally can get on shore in Hawaii to sit in a bar and watch a live game. I thought that might happen a few Sundays ago in Juneau when I stepped inside the swinging doors of the Red Dog Saloon. However, for some reason, there was no live TV, just monitors showing beer commercials. Our fantasy team also lost this past week, with spotty access to scores on the internet. I need a fix!

It’s college football Saturday and at least I have scores to monitor. It’s five hours earlier than our Florida Eastern time zone, so I don’t have to stay up late, but all I can do is check my phone. Friends are headed to the ballpark, while others have checked in from Memorial Stadium in Bloomington. Everyone else that I know is watching at home or on their phones. I’m stuck in the middle of nowhere, no land in sight, with access to plenty of on-board bars showing nothing but boring monitor programming. There’s even a whisky tasting later today, but I’ll have to do it without a game in the background. It just doesn’t seem right – I’m Jonesin’!

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