Month: November 2014 (Page 1 of 2)

Turkey Day Tradition

This is better suited for a Friday Links post, but since I just saw it today and it’s relevant to tomorrow’s holiday, I thought I would go ahead and share it today.

I think I had heard of this before, but never read the details. In 1939, President Roosevelt decided to change the date of Thanksgiving to add another week of Christmas shopping. The hope was that extra week would give a boost to the struggling economy.

His decision did not go over well.

Republicans pounced, and used the move to portray Roosevelt as a power-mad tyrant. In an early example of Godwin’s Law, FDR’s recent presidential opponent Alf Landon said Roosevelt sprung his decision on “an unprepared country with the omnipotence of a Hitler.” Senator Styles Bridges of New Hampshire suggested that while Roosevelt was at it, he should abolish winter.

As you will read, for three years Thanksgiving was held on different days in different states until a new, permanent date was established that we still use today.

Politics, man.

But we do have a precedent for my brilliant idea of a year or two ago: moving Christmas to late January. Come on, Obama, do it!

The executive action that tore a nation apart

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

Pre-Thanksgiving Notes

A busy few days between get-togethers, kid activities, and prepping for Thanksgiving.

How about a few notes?


M. has kicked off her volleyball career. She’s been to one skills session and another evaluation session as the fourth graders at St. P’s get slotted onto the appropriate team for their first year of CYO play. I haven’t watched any of her practices, but I’m hopeful that she can hang in there and make the occasional pass or serve it over the net, rather than be fearful of the ball.

Last week I told her how I played a ton of volleyball in my 20s, often in two leagues at once at my former employer, and that seemed to interest her. She was especially impressed when I told her my team won the 4-on–4 league one year.

“So did you get, a really big trophy?”
“Nope. Just a t-shirt that said ‘Champions’ on it. But we wore them to the gym all the time so everyone knew.”
“Cool!”

I’d love it if she got some of her dad’s hyper-competitiveness on the court. But I just hope she has fun.


Saturday was fairly warm here, so I spent a solid chunk of the day cleaning up leaves and doing some pre-winter trimming of bushes. I was following the KU score, but didn’t feel any urgency to get inside and watch as Oklahoma pounded them. Of course, when I saw how many yards Samaje Perine had, I made it inside to see his record-breaking run.

A pretty pathetic performance by the KU defense, which had shown marked improvement in recent weeks. Also a shame to see Tony Sands fall two places in two weeks on the all-time, single-game rushing list.

Which brings up a good story. The day Sands ran for his then-record 396 yards, it was cold and nasty in Lawrence. A lot of people stayed home as KU played a pretty weak MU team. A few of us, though, stayed through the final rush that put Sands above Marshall Faulk’s record. We even slapped Tony on his shoulder pads as he walked off the field.

But one friend was apparently very sick that day. He claims he had pneumonia, a terrible fever, and could barely breath. He tried to make it out the door when he heard Sands’ yardage building up on the radio. But he was too weak to make it out. Or so he insisted.

We still give him grief about that. We have downgraded whatever illness he had to sniffles and a tickle in his throat, while he now claims he was on death’s doorstep.

So, of course, I sent out a message yesterday wondering if any OU students sneezed a couple times and decided to stay in their dorm room and watch the game rather than walk to the stadium and stand in the rain for 3+ hours and thus missed seeing Perine go off first hand.

Good times.


A week ago we went out on a snowy Sunday and bought a bunch of new outdoor Christmas decorations. Don’t worry, they’re neither put outside nor lit up yet. There are plenty of people around our neighborhood who flipped theirs on over the weekend. It’s one thing to put them up on a warm day when you know you may not have another chance. It’s another thing completely to go ahead and turn them on before Thanksgiving. When will this war on Thanksgiving cease?

I do have to admit, though, I’ve already checked a bunch of our lights, I have things organized for easy unpacking on Friday and Saturday when it is time to get all the decorations out. But not until I watch my Cheers “Thanksgiving Orphans” episode and drink something tasty!


Our Thanksgiving preparations are pretty locked in. Still some cleaning to do around the house, but we’ve had an overnight guest and a small gathering over the past week so a lot of the heavy cleaning has already been knocked out. We’ll have 17 or 18, I can’t keep track, for a late afternoon dinner. We’re only doing a few of the sides and some of the dessert, so while I’ll be busy getting those things together, it won’t be a full day of cooking for us.


I’m sure many of you have been holding your breath for this news, but I believe I will begin unveiling my favorite songs of the year on December 8. This year I’ll share two songs a day so we’ll be wrapped up on Dec. 19, when I imagine a lot of you will be knocking off for a week or more. I’m listening to the song that will be #1 right now, no hints though. The top 10 is very strong. The second ten, well there’s some significant drop-off there.


Boys high school basketball began last tonight in Indiana. Tonight I’m covering one of my southern teams that is coming up north. I have a few girls games logged already, but it’s always interesting to do the boys for the first time. The girls team I’ve covered is very fast up-and-down the court, but the boys are usually a couple steps faster and it takes a quarter or two to get used to the pace so I’m getting my stats recorded while also keeping an eye on the action.

⦿ Friday Links

There’s a new Kingdom Rush game out, so I better share some links before I disappear into it for the next week or so.


Our first article is a look into the life of a college basketball assistant coach. If you don’t get hooked up with the right guy/program, it can be a real struggle to work your way up the ladder. I’ve always found it interesting that quite a few coaches spend time in pharmaceutical sales before they dive into coaching. Brad Stevens is the most famous example. But Gus Hauser, the subject of this feature, is another example.

Keep Moving


I’ve said before that Wichita State’s rise does not bother me, although I realize my view might be different if I still lived back in the Kansas City area. But because I don’t, and I dig the Shockers’ rise, I really enjoyed this feature on Ron Baker. Nothing wrong with a small town Kansas kid blowing up like he has, no matter where he goes to school.

The Ultimate Shocker: How Ron Baker Went from Walk-On to NBA Prospect


Three music links to round things out.

First, the transcript of Steve Albini’s recent talk at the Face the Music conference in Melbourne. It’s good to see that some inside the music industry are optimistic and forward-looking rather than constantly complaining or attempting to turn the clock back 30 years when it comes to music distribution.

But for a minute I want you to look at the experience of music from a fan’s perspective, post-internet. Music that is hard to find was now easy to find. Music to suit my specific tastes, as fucked up as they might be, was now accessible by a few clicks or maybe posting a query on a message board. In response I had more access to music than I had ever imagined. Curated by other enthusiasts, keen to turn me on to the good stuff; people, like me, who want other people to hear the best music ever.

Steve Albini on the surprisingly sturdy state of the music industry


As you likely know, I’m a stickler about not listening to Christmas music until the day after Thanksgiving. Not everyone waits so long, including an increasing number of radio stations.

Here’s a look at the economics of Christmas radio. Spoiler alert: most stations that go to all Christmas music formats enjoy dramatically increased ratings. Also, this was published in October, so it’s a bit dated.

Radio Dusts Off Mistletoe, in October


Finally, keeping in the holiday spirit, another Christmas music article I’ve been sitting on for a few weeks.

When David Letterman announced his retirement earlier this year, I wondered what would happen to the traditional musical guest in the final show before Christmas. To no real surprise, Darlene Love will perform on Letterman this year, and then go on late night TV no more to sing “Christmas (Baby Please Come Home).”

She’s the best.

David Letterman’s retirement means no more TV “Christmas” from Darlene Love

Friday Vid

“Slippery Slopes” – Jenny Lewis

I realized last night that we are only two weeks from when I will begin unveiling my favorite songs of 2014. Although this song will not be on the list, Jenny Lewis will be making an appearance. I highly recommend the album from which this song comes, The Voyager.

Humbled

There are beatdowns and there are BEATDOWNS. What Kentucky did to Kansas last night was a BEATDOWN, with an endless number of exclamation points after.

And I was lucky enough to watch it in person at Banker’s Life Fieldhouse.

Yay.

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First thing, Kentucky is really freaking good. They have length on top of length, and their only “normal” sized player is probably faster than 98% of the players who will try to check him.

Physical abilities only go so far, though. They play well together, make the extra pass, and attack every opposing shot. This undefeated talk, for once, is not nonsense. Baring significant injuries – note the plural – I have a hard time seeing anyone being able to hang with this team. You kind of have to knock down 25-to-30 3-pointers and then hope Kentucky isn’t hitting if you want to beat them.

It did not surprise me that the Banker’s Life crowd was dominated by Kentucky fans. It’s a short drive from Kentucky, there are lots of Kentucky fans who live in Indiana, and then there are the bandwagon jumpers who were wearing Duke gear ten years ago but now wear a (slightly) different shade of blue.1 It was probably 60-70% UK fans, a number made difficult to truly measure because A) three teams feature blue so three fanbases were mostly wearing blue and B) we KU fans didn’t have much to cheer about so we didn’t exactly stand out during our game. But there were solid sections of both KU and Michigan State fans with a healthy dose of KU fans sprinkled through the rest of the arena. I’d say KU had the second-most fans, MSU third, and Duke a respectable fourth.

My brother in Jayhawkdom Steve B. flew in for the game, and pulled some strings to get us solid seats. We were in the club level, straight across from the Kentucky bench. There was a family of Duke fans right behind us, who we talked into cheering for KU, and then a bunch of obnoxious Kentucky fans behind them and in front of us. Pretty early in the KU-UK game, when it was still a contest, one of the Kentucky fans leaned over to a 7-or-8 year old Duke fan and told him to pay close attention because this was the best team he would ever see. Even if it was good-natured, who does that?

Anyway, good seats, a great pre-game meal of fine Brazilian barbecue, and a gold-star opponent. It was nice of the Jayhawks to stay in the game for five minutes or so. After that, it was pretty much a disaster.

The smallest KU team in memory trying to challenge one of the tallest teams in college history seemed like a mismatch from the beginning. KU drove and tried to shoot, Kentucky blocked the shots and grabbed the rebounds. KU ran the offense, UK was always there to challenge passes and cuts. If someone got a look from deep, there was always a hand in the face on the shot. Frustration turned to embarrassment as KU scored just 12 second-half points, put up 40 for the game, and shot below 20 percent from the field. Not many silver linings in all of that.

Except, I think there were.

First off, Kentucky is going to make a lot of good teams look like high schoolers this year. Not much shame in being the first of the list.

Second, I actually liked how KU kept running their regular sets. There was a part of me that wanted Bill Self to scrap that and just start running action on the perimeter to get shooters open from behind the arc. But why do that when there are 30+ games left to play? Run your shit, even if it’s not working. No one will guard it as well as Kentucky did. You can only learn and grow from getting humbled like that. Tuesday’s experience should pay off against Michigan State, Florida, and Texas.

Third, despite the 32-point margin, Kentucky didn’t exactly play a perfect game.2 KU played solid defense and challenged shots. They held Kentucky in the low 40s for shooting percentage. They were just undone by giving up too many second-chance opportunities. And too many of those second-chance points came with guys who are 6-10+ shooting from five feet away over a bunch of small guys. KU couldn’t finish on the defensive end.

That’s not to diminish how well Kentucky did play, or how poorly KU performed. But I also don’t think you can get too hung up on the result. Unless they play again in the NCAA tournament, KU will not meet another team like Kentucky this year. Things that had no chance last night will have much better chances of success against every other team on the schedule. KU will get better. Three freshmen – Kelly Oubre, Cliff Alexander, and Svi Mykhailiuk – played the hardest. There’s a lot to learn from a game like this. Hopefully the lessons take.

I realized this watching KU’s exhibition games and regular season opener, but it’s shocking how small the Jayhawks are. Starting no one taller than 6-8 is amazing, when you consider who has manned the post positions for KU in the Bill Self era.

Joel Embiid (7’), Jeff Withey (7’), The Morrii (6-10 each), Cole Aldrich (7’), Sasha Kaun (6-11), Darnell Jackson (6-10), Darrell Arthur (6-10), and Jeff Graves (6-10).

Perhaps only in Self’s second year, when Wayne Simien (6-9) started with four perimeter players and Kaun and CJ Giles (6-11) played limited minutes off the bench, has KU been this small in recent memory.

It’s a huge change, both to the visuals of the game and to how Self runs his offense. Perry Ellis is a terrific inside scorer, but he’s always had a bigger guy next to him to draw the largest defender. He’s not a great leaper or someone who is always in perfect position like Nick Collison, so I think he’ll struggle at times this year.

I think Alexander is better suited to being a low-post, back-to-the-basket guy than Perry is. He didn’t have much to show for his efforts last night, but he was working hard and didn’t seem fazed by the pressure the UK bigs put on him. You always wonder about guys his size who were dominant in high school and how they will translate to the college level. I think Cliff is going to be just fine once he gets comfortable.

The size issue makes the development of Landen Lucas incredibly important. If he can get on the court and play solid minutes, he could be a huge asset at 6-11.

I’ll do a more detailed look ahead for the Jayhawks in another week or two, after I see them some more. As uncomfortable as it was to watch last night’s debacle, I’m not going to put too much stock into it when figuring how good KU can be this year. They have a lot of good parts and are working to find how those best fit together. Aside from a shot-blocker, I think the defense will be much better than last year’s. I have to think that the outside shooting will be better eventually. There may not be the #1 options they had last year in Andrew Wiggins and Embiid, but this looks to be a well-balanced team that can find scoring from just about everyone 1-10.

KU will play plenty of tough games this year. But none will be as tough as last night. Onward and upward.

And Rock Chalk, bitches.


  1. Those people likely felt awkward with Duke playing in the early game. 
  2. The truly frightening this about this game. They can get a lot better. 

Football Notes

Well, there’s snow on the ground. Probably as good of a time as any for my first lengthy football post of the year.

Jayhawks

It says a lot about the KU football program’s recent history that a win over another crappy team and a near-win against a very good team went down as the best stretch since the end of the 2008 season.

So go ahead and laugh at us if your team has been a consistent winner over that span. The last two weeks have been a lot of fun, though. The way the ball bounced through the first 42 minutes or so of Saturday’s TCU game, you kind of felt like the Football Gods were smiling on KU for once. TCU woke up and did just enough to win, getting some help from KU not taking advantage of a couple chances to either pad the lead or remain even with the Frogs. It was very nice to not look completely inept for a change.

What do I think about Clint Bowen’s chances for remaining as the head coach next year? I like him a lot. I think he’s been a good change and the team’s improvement is because of his enthusiasm, leadership, and adjustments he’s made in personnel and in the coaching staff.

But I do wonder how much of that carries over to next year if he gets the job. There are a lot of guys who made big plays the last two weeks who went through the Turner Gill debacle and the Charlie Weis experience. Were things so toxic that just putting a guy like Bowen in charge was bound to make things better? Can he recapture this magic next year?

The scary thing about KU is they have a rather thin roster, but are senior-heavy. They are going to lose a ton of important players after this season and don’t have a lot of depth ready to fill in. Next year is going to be a very difficult season, regardless of who the coach is or how well he and his staff recruit between now and February.

That said, I don’t know what realistic choices are out there that can do better than Bowen can do. It’s a tough damn job and after the last two hires, I’m tempted to just go with what we know. Especially when that guy is local and an alum and is young.

Colts

I said back in my NFL preview post that the Colts would struggle early then roll through the last six games of their schedule. I got parts of that right.

As expected, they lost to Denver and Philadelphia to open the season. The catch being they made Denver sweat in that opening week game and were a score away from putting the Eagles away in week two.

Then, somehow, the defense began playing out of their minds and Andrew Luck took the next step to becoming the next great NFL quarterback and they started kicking ass. A blow-out loss to the Steelers was concerning, for sure. But they also put a beatdown on the Bengals and went to Houston and dominated early then held on to get a huge road win in the division.

Things were looking good.

Until Sunday.

Just like so many Novembers since Peyton Manning arrived, a key game against the Patriots in which the Colts could measure themselves. Different game, same story. Bill Belichick and his staff found ways to gouge the Colts defense and contain their offense. Ahmad Bradshaw limped off the field late, which is very concerning since Trent Richardson still can’t run and there’s pretty much no one behind him.

It was only one game, but it was a telling loss. The Colts had a chance to not only slay the Patriots dragon but also turn the AFC race into a wild, five-team affair for the last six weeks of the season. Instead, they’re a step behind the leaders.

The Colts have a pretty favorable schedule left. They get Houston at home and go to Dallas. So one of the first round byes isn’t out of the question. But it’s far from a given and I doubt they are interested in hosting the Chiefs (again) or tempt fate and have to stop Peyton one more time just to get to the second round.

The Colts did not feel elite to begin this season, despite Peter King picking them for the Super Bowl. There were too many holes on defense, too many questions on offense. But with the start they’ve had, it’s going to be a huge disappointment if their playoff run is only one game this year.

⦿ Friday Links

The college basketball season officially begins tonight. Tuesday I will be watching my alma mater take on the modern goliath of the NCAA, Kentucky, at Banker’s Life Fieldhouse.

As aggravating as Kentucky is, I’ve been on record for a couple years as saying, like him or not, you have to give credit to John Calipari. There is no better recruiter in the game, as he finds every angle and uses it shamelessly. He’s generally done a pretty good job reining in all the egos that come with bringing in the #1 or #2 recruiting class year-after-year. And, contrary to popular opinion, the dude can actually coach.

I don’t agree with everything in this piece, but I think the overall argument is pretty solid. There are a handful of coaches out there who may do one or two things better than Cal. But right now, he’s the most effective coach in the game.

The Last Honest NCAA Coach


I generally think the complaining about how awful it is to have to adjust our clocks by an hour twice a year is silly. Thus, I enjoyed this very geeky look at why Daylight Savings Time is a good thing.

Why I like DST


As promised, a review of the reissued Tears For Fears album Songs From The Big Chair.


By at least one (likely flawed) measure, Americans are some of the most ignorant people in the world. There’s a quiz that proves it! (I got 7/9, but should have got 8/9).

Way to Go, Americans: We’re Almost as Ignorant as Italians


Finally, in 1959 Lt Colonel William Rankin was flying an Air Force jet from Massachusetts to North Carolina. When he experienced mechanical issues, he had to eject. Which set off an unbelievable series of events.

Lt Colonel William Rankin Ejects Into A Thunderstorm

Friday Vid

http://youtu.be/TLEXHFsSzYU

“Everybody Wants To Rule The World” – Tears For Fears
I’m not ready to give up on the music from 1985 yet, apparently.

Songs From the Big Chair just got its (slightly early) 30th anniversary rerelease this week, and Tears For Fears is making the rounds to promote it. I’ll share a review of the updated album in the links, but this performance seemed like justification to throw this song out as the vid of the week.

What a great song. It was great back then. It’s still great today. It never stopped being great in-between. And the album has held up pretty well, too.

Reporter’s Notebook

Well, the Hinkle Fieldhouse stuff was technically a lengthy reporter’s notebook entry. But I still need to get you caught up on the last month of work.

The final regular season football game I covered came over a month ago, the same night as game one of the ALCS as a matter of fact. My team was down 24–0 before the first quarter was over. It had poured rain all day and was still raining steadily with chilly temperatures. The jerseys were so muddy that we could barely read uniform numbers in the press box. So the stats guys, the clock operators, and I would all yell out who we thought made the tackle or the catch or had the run. If at least two people agreed, we decided to go with that player.

Things got really interesting at halftime when the opposing coaches climbed down from the roof to go join their team. The stats guys started yelling at them for running up the score. Which they kind of were. You don’t throw the ball downfield when you’re up by 50 and it’s not even halftime. Sadly there was no fight, which would have been the most exciting thing about the night.

Then I covered the CGHS boys soccer team through a few rounds of the state playoffs. They were really good this year, and I was set to cover them in the state championship game if they made it that far. Unfortunately, they got bounced in the semi-state round. Which was another new thing for me. The game was in Evansville, too far away to send a reporter. So I followed the game on Twitter and then called the coach as they bused home to get some details for the story. Oh, as I was following a pretty crazy 4–3 game on Twitter, the Royals were building, and then blowing, a lead in game four of the World Series. Symmetry. Or synergy. Or something.

Then two weeks ago I covered the cross country semi-state meet that was right up the road from my house, on the course where I have been running lately. It was pretty sobering to see the girl who won, who I’ve reported on for a couple years, her knock out a course that I run in just under 30 minutes in just over 18 minutes. And in the boys race, the winner just missed breaking 15 minutes.

I’ve also written one girls basketball preview and am in the midst of writing the boys and girls swimming previews.

But, in the spirit of burying the lede, the big news is that I began working for another paper last week. This is the county paper that covers the county I actually live in. I met the new sports editor when I was covering a team for my original paper that came north a month ago. We chatted, he gave me his email address and said to send him a message if I was ever interested in working closer to home.

Last Friday was my first assignment for him. I got to cover the Catholic school that’s right up the road in their football sectional championship game. It ended up being a really good game. I was actually covering both teams, so by the time the game ended (at 10:00!) and I had a chance to talk to both coaches, the extra hour this paper allows for deadline really came in handy.

This paper covers eight (I think) high schools, from the second-biggest in the state down to a 1A school, so it’s a similar spread to my other paper. Although up here the big schools have more high-end talent. My local high school sends kids to D1 in every sport every year. There are at least two guys playing in the NBA from schools I will follow. And it will be cool to get to cover, and learn more, about all these schools that are in my backyard as opposed to two counties away.

The bummer is this new paper does not pay very much. Not that my other paper does, but they certainly pay more and throw in mileage, so when I have to make a long drive at least the gas is covered.

But it’s a chance to get some more work, hopefully closer to home. If I can swing it, I’d like to keep taking assignments for both papers. I have seven years of knowledge and relationships built up down south. I’d like to keep those. And it will be nice to occasionally not have to leave 90 minutes before a game starts to get there on time. We’ll see how that all works out.

Oh, and the other aspect of working for this new paper is I’ve finally put my Twitter account to use. While using Twitter to send out scores was never discouraged by my OG paper, neither was it something they asked or encouraged us to do. Some writers did it; others did not. I just never tried to get it into my game night workflow.

But the new paper asked that we send out updates at least quarterly. So, dutifully, I did just that. As I got more comfortable jumping from the game to my stats to Twitter, I sent out a few in-game updates when big plays happened. The paper retweeted my stuff, so by the end of the night I actually had a new follower. I’m not ready to jump into using Twitter full time, but it was kind of funny to actually send things out when I’ve just been using it as a tool to read since 2008.

Finally, tonight I’m off to cover the opening night of girls high school basketball in the state. I’ll have the CG girls, who are ranked sixth and are always fun to watch.

Hinkle

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In the first six months I lived in Indiana, back in 2003, I had a pretty solid sports run. I went to the RCA Dome for a Colts pre-season game. I went to a Notre Dame football game in South Bend. I’m told that I went to West Lafayette for a Purdue football game, although that day is rather fuzzy thanks to a huge amount of alcohol. I went to an IU basketball game in Assembly Hall. And I sat in a suite at (then) Conseco Fieldhouse and watched the Indiana Pacers play the New York Knicks. The next winter I went to a boys high school basketball sectional championship game and watched two future NBA players battle it out1.

It took a few more years, but in time I made it to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, first for practice and qualifying for the Indy 500, and then for an actual 500 mile race. I also visited Victory Field for an Indianapolis Indians game.

There wasn’t much of the Indianapolis sporting experience that I missed. Well, expect for one glaring omission that became much bigger over time.

I had never gone to Hinkle Fieldhouse for a Butler basketball game. Which, you would think, was something that I would have knocked out very early in my time here. But, for whatever reason, likely because most of my friends here are IU and Purdue alums, no one was ever asking me to go with them. And when I mentioned it to those Hoosiers and Boilermakers, it was always greeted as a fine idea, but not one there was ever any great motivation to follow up on.

After over 11 years, I finally crossed that notable checkbox off Saturday. And I got paid to do it!

I went down to Butler to watch them play Franklin College, a Division III school in the town where my paper is based, in an exhibition game. I got to walk through the media entrance. I got to go into the press room and page through the materials the two sports information departments had put together for us. I got to walk out and sit right next to where a national writer has a permanent reserved seat. And after the game I could have sat in and talked to the interim Butler coach and a couple players as they sat on the dais and took questions from the assembled press.2

Thus, it was a bit of an odd experience. I knew going in my story would be less about the game itself, which proved to be the lopsided blowout you would expect when a solid DI program plays a young DIII program, than about the experience of the FC team. So I sat and casually took in the action, getting a feel for the flow of the game but not taking detailed notes or keeping a running play-by-play. If I needed stats, I just looked down at my computer to see the instantly updated stats Butler was providing. Hell, the guy next to me pulled up the Minnesota-Iowa football game on his computer and either watched that or sent out Tweets the entire time.

Our seats were not great. We were stacked into three rows that are back in a corner, well behind the baseline. And, given the opponent, the crowd was not great.

Still, I was finally in Hinkle! They just finished a big $36 million refurb of the building. It was fascinating to compare the inside of the arena, which is all shiny and new now, with the guts of the building. As I was waiting to talk to the FC coach after the game, I looked around and saw big steel doors, railings, and structural supports that had clearly been installed when the building opened in 1928. I didn’t make a thorough tour of the building, but it definitely has that older than old school feel to it.

The playing area itself has an odd setup. The court runs across, rather than with, the long end of the building. There are small balconies above the ends of the court, with seven-row student bleachers underneath, and then the side walls of the building hit. But on the sides of the court, the lower levels slope up gently before hitting the upper sections, which reach high and far away from the court. When you look across the court, and see the seats high above the opposite side, it’s easy to imagine those classic images from old high school state championship games where it seemed like there were 40,000 people watching instead of just 15,0003. You can envision entire towns packed into the building to watch their teams play for the state title, the air heavy with smoke. Like Allen Fieldhouse, there are large windows around most of the building. Unlike Allen Fieldhouse, though, some of the windows are covered with shades.

1398184460000 crowd

The game-day atmosphere was pretty cool. For the non-Indy folks, Butler is located in the heart of an area of town that is full of large, gorgeous, old homes. My Kansas City friends should think of the area between the Plaza and Brookside. Rather than being on a large campus, it very much feels like you’re still part of the neighborhood as you’re walking to the Fieldhouse. Folks are parked on side streets, or just walking over from their homes a few blocks away. I would imagine it’s a whole lot cooler on days when a Big East school comes to town and the every seat is packed.

Because of the opponent, it was tough to gauge the game day feel inside the arena. Attendance was listed at just over 6600, and that may have been a little optimistic. There were plenty of “OOOHS” and “AHHHS” for the plethora of dunks the Bulldogs threw down, but there were never the kinds of roars I’ve heard from this arena on TV when teams like Gonzaga and Xavier and Stanford came in and lost in recent years.

I’m glad I finally made it to Hinkle. I wish I had done so much sooner, and I definitely want to get back for a regular season game and sit in regular seats to get a better feel for the place. Fifteen years ago, I bet most college fans around the country didn’t know much about Hinkle. You could say, “You know, where they played the last game in Hoosiers,” and people would get it. But until Butler’s rise, I don’t think it registered with people the way names like Allen, Cameron, and the Palestra do. I still don’t know if Hinkle is quite in that league, but people certainly know about it. It’s pretty cool that I can tell people I’ve been there now, though.

Oh, and a quick note about Butler’s team. They were down a little last year, mostly because they lost like 800 games either on the last possession or in overtime. They have some good talent this year. They are athletic, long if not huge, and have shooters. And they’re deep. They have three freshmen, all between 6’6’’ and 6’8’’, who look like they could turn into really good players. There’s some uncertainty in the program right now, with head coach Brandon Miller in the midst of a leave of absence for an undisclosed medical issue. I think it’s safe to say Butler has very long odds to ever reach one, let alone two-straight, national title games again. But I wouldn’t write them off in the post-Brad Stevens era just yet either.


  1. Josh McRoberts and a young Eric Gordon. 
  2. I did not because I was waiting for the FC coach to come out, and didn’t really need Butler comments for my story. 
  3. Through renovations over the years, capacity has been whittled down from 15,000 to just 10,000. 
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