The Herald Bulletin

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February 3, 2013

Scott Underwood: Hoosier fans bringing the noise again

Watching the telecast on ESPN of Saturday night’s game between top-ranked Michigan and No. 3 Indiana transported me back a couple of decades to a time when I was a sports writer with The Herald Bulletin.

In those days, it wasn’t unusual for newspapers, even small ones, scattered across the state to send a reporter to several IU games a year, and I was lucky to write sports in an era that placed me about a dozen times at Assembly Hall for big games.

The atmosphere there, as it is now, was unique, beginning with the personality of Assembly Hall. Frankly, if you have nosebleed seats, it’s like watching a game from another planet. But if you’re seated near the floor, as sports writers often are, the shape of the structure brings the sound and fury of 17,000 fans cascading down upon you. You can’t hear the squeak of the players’ sneakers or the note of the referees’ whistles.

Back in the mid-1990s, coach Bob Knight and players such as Calbert Cheaney, Eric Anderson, Alan Henderson, Brian Evans, Damon Bailey and Greg Graham had IU among college basketball’s elite. And Assembly Hall was like a minefield for visiting teams, no matter how talented. The Hoosiers, buoyed by frenzied fan support and bolstered by the proud tradition of Indiana basketball (five NCAA championship banners hang on the wall), were nearly unbeatable in Assembly Hall.

And, of course, the post-game press conferences with Knight were almost always memorable.

Those IU teams of the early ’90s failed to put another national championship banner on the wall. They sometimes seemed vexed by bad luck. Remember Henderson’s knee injury late in the 1992-93 season?

Here’s hoping the current Hoosiers, who defeated Michigan on Saturday night to the delight of the Hoosier throng, can accomplish what those almost-great teams of the ’90s couldn’t.

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Don’t forget to vote in The Herald Bulletin’s annual Best of Madison County survey. The field in each of the 65 categories has been narrowed to the top five, based on nominations received. Thousands of votes have already been cast, but the tally in some of the categories is close, meaning that your vote could make the difference.

Voting ends Thursday, so visit theheraldbulletin.com and click on the 2013 Best of Madison County logo in the upper right part of the homepage. You can vote in all 65 categories or choose as few as one category to make your mark. It takes only a few minutes, and it’s a great way to get involved in assuring that the best businesses, professionals and institutions in Madison County get recognition.

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In last week’s column, I wrote that I was involved in a traffic accident on the Interstate 69 overpass of Scatterfield Road at Exit 222. That exit, of course, is 226. It was a silly mistake. But it’s a bit harder to keep track of I-69 exits now, since the state added an extra digit to make allowance for new exits being added on the southern extension of the interstate.

Editor Scott Underwood’s column appears Mondays. Contact him at scott.underwood@heraldbulletin.com or 640-4845.

 

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