With L done with hoops for the time being, I figured I should still get out and watch some live basketball.

Tuesday I went to my first high school game in a long time. C has a classmate that made the varsity team (girl also made varsity soccer as a freshman, so obviously she’s a stud). A few of the freshmen girls wanted to go and support her so I took C.

CHS is usually pretty mediocre in girls hoops, but this team shows some promise. Of course, they were playing kind of a crappy team. They won by 30 and were paced by a junior who transferred in this summer. She can kind of do everything, although I thought she tried to do too much often.

I was watching just to see what kind of system the head coach ran to give L – who did not attend – some scouting. The bummer for L is that there wasn’t anyone on the varsity roster shorter than 5’11”. She’s still growing – up to 5’3”! – but I think 5’11” might be too tall an ask for her body. She’s going to have to dazzle the coach with her speed, ball handling, and IQ if she wants to make varsity when she gets to CHS.

Wednesday I took L and two friends to the Butler-Michigan State game. It was her first college basketball game, so obviously her first trip to Hinkle Fieldhouse.

We got great tickets thanks to S doing some work with Butler on their Covid strategies over the past few months. We were in the eighth row directly behind the Michigan State. I couldn’t quite hear Tom Izzo during timeouts. But if I wanted to be an ass I probably could have reminded the support staff in the row behind the bench of the score from last week’s game with KU.

The game was not great. I don’t think Butler is very good this year, and the Spartans looked a lot better than a week ago in New York. They were just too big and too athletic for the Bulldogs. It was a 8–11 point game for most of the first 25 minutes or so. Butler hit a 3 to cut it to six, MSU immediately answered and went on something like a 12–0 run to put the game away. I was hoping for a more competitive game so we could get the full Hinkle experience.

I had been to Hinkle once before as a reporter. That was for an exhibition game, so a very different environment. Wednesday, the crowd was juiced for the first five minutes or so, until it became obvious that Butler wasn’t ready for this matchup. Those first few minutes were great, though.

Hinkle definitely has that old school college gym vibe that I love. It has a different setup than Allen Fieldhouse, but there are some common threads. It holds 9100, and Wednesday was the first time it has been filled to capacity since Covid’s arrival. Because of how the seats are arranged – very short end zones and long, tall side sections, the building itself feels tiny. Old timers will remember the track that used to run around the seats at Allen. The ground-level footprint of Hinkle is much smaller. It’s hard to describe without walking it yourself, but you get the sense that you’re more in a big high school gym than a D1 college arena.

I think L and her buddies’ highlight of the night came after the game. Once the teams and support staff clear out, they open up the floor for anyone to shoot around. Which is very Indiana, right? One of L’s buddies brought a ball so they went down and shot for about half an hour, having a ton of fun. I laughed at all the older, Michigan State dudes who kept taking their ball to get their own shots up. It never got uncomfortable where I needed to step in, but there was like no realization that they had taken the ball away from a group of 13-year-olds. I guess normal playground rules should apply, but even when the kids were making shots these green-clad goobers were taking the ball for their own shots. I blame alcohol.

One of L’s CYO teammates and good friends was sitting with her family directly opposite of us. That girl’s older sister went to Michigan State so she and her brother were wearing Spartans jerseys. I was shocked I didn’t see a Magic Johnson jersey, although I’m sure there was one somewhere in the building. I did see a woman in her 20s who was wearing a Scott Skiles jersey. There HAS to be a family connection of some kind, because that’s entirely too random. Skiles is from Indiana, and played for the Pacers at one point, so perhaps that’s the connection. I wanted to go thank her for Skiles, a 90+% free throw shooter, missing two huge free throws against Kansas in the 1986 NCAA tournament, but figured A) that was a dick move and B) she would probably have no idea what I was talking about since she was born 20 years after the game.

Tough result, but fun night.