It's no secret I'm an alumnus of Indiana University. I went to every single home game for the four years I was there, and again attended every single game the season after I graduated -- I used my student ID to purchase season tickets at the discounted student price; how savvy is that? Since then, I've always made it down to Bloomington for at least one game per season.
This past Saturday -- against Penn State -- was that one game for this season.
I'll admit, when I took my camera and anticipated writing this FanHouse in the Stands, I was planning on writing about how the atmosphere pales in comparison to the past.
Really, could you blame the fans if I was right? My collegiate roommates and I often reminisce about having to literally yell into each others' ears just to discuss the game because it would get so loud in there. Over the years, I've spoken with a few former Hoosier players -- and even some opposing players -- and they always say the same thing: "I can't believe how loud it gets in there." When you walk into an arena, and hundreds are walking around wearing candy-striped pants, you know you have die-hards on your hands.
I'm not trying to say we are definitely better fans than places like Duke, Michigan State, North Carolina, or Kansas. Not in the least.
What I am saying is that I fully expected a school who has seen tons of hoops success to see a gigantic dip in the crowd atmosphere department, because their current team will probably lose all 16 Big Ten games. The Indiana program is one of the most storied in college basketball, and -- thanks to our good buddy Kelvin Sampson -- it's a scrap heap in 2009.
Here's the thing, though: I was wrong.
While the atmosphere inside Assembly Hall was not what I've seen with past teams, it was nothing about which any of us Hoosier faithful should be embarrassed. Though the Hoosiers couldn't get past that six/seven point barrier for most of the game, the fans were right with this team until the very end. It got loud many times, people stood at huge moments, and chants were present. I have to give props to the current group of student fans, because we are cheering for a team who probably won't win a conference game, yet those student sections never went quiet.
I'm always proud to have attended Indiana University, but the experience Saturday night made me even more proud to be a fan of the basketball program. While they are a really awful team right now, the program is in good shape moving forward. The fans? Well, I'm a fan of the fans.Snapshots
Anyone remember Chris Reynolds? How about Todd Lindeman?
Here's coach Tom Crean in action. I had the pleasure of sitting close enough that I could actually hear him coaching. I'll say this, he is incredibly zealous, and he never stops teaching. I loved it. I was already a huge fan, but now my support has multiplied dramatically. You would have thought he was coaching a national championship contender the way he went about his business all game.
Here are a couple shots of the student section behind one of the baskets. I love the enlarged faces they hold up, because it was such a mixed bag. You have Tiger Woods and Bill Lynch. You have Oprah and Brian Evans. You have Cameron Diaz and Alan Henderson. Oh, and Sponge Bob Square Pants. You can't see everyone I named in these pictures, but they were all there.Final Thoughts
Finally, I just want to ask one question about the game: Why in God's name was Penn State not posting up Jamelle Cornley all game? The Hoosiers have no one who could even come close to stopping him on the block, yet he couldn't have had more than eight touches down low.
Either way, Penn State got the victory, and the Hoosiers continued their march towards perfecting futility in the Big Ten. The Hoosier faithful, however, will not stop supporting their troops.
As I said above, I'm proud.
FanHouse in the Stands: The Hoosier Faithful are Still Strong originally appeared on NCAA Basketball Main on Mon, 19 Jan 2009 10:30:00 EST . Please see our terms for use of feeds.