The heart of Indiana has for years beaten to the rhythm of an orange leather sphere on a hardwood floor. As cold weather creeps over the cornfields, Hoosiers from South Bend to Evansville venture into gymnasiums to watch or play a game in a state that the inventor, James Naismith, called “the center of the sport.”
Events such as the famed “Milan Miracle,” which produced the movie “Hoosiers”; Indiana University’s five national titles; the Butler University Bulldogs’ recent NCAA tournament success; Valparaiso University’s run in the 1998 NCAA tournament; and strong showings from the Indiana Pacers in the 90s and the past two seasons have contributed to the maintaining and increasing of “Hoosier Hysteria.” Our state’s reputation for basketball is upheld by our high schools, universities and professional teams, but where is the University of Indianapolis Greyhounds’ stamp in basketball tradition?
In 33 years, the UIndy women’s basketball team made 10 NCAA tournament appearances with an overall record of 5-10. In 2009, they reached the Sweet Sixteen, but this is the farthest the team has ever gone.
In 80 years, the men’s basketball team has made 14 postseason appearances with an overall record of 4-14. They have never gotten farther than the second round in a national tournament.
UIndy does boast the Crowe brothers, who attended the university many years ago and went on to achieve sports fame in various ways. Other than the Crowe brothers and several players who have achieved fame in other countries, there is not much that Greyhound basketball can say it has contributed to Indiana’s game. I think we are poised to change that.
The men’s and women’s teams both achieved a great deal of success last year. Each team reached playoff berths and had a great season. The men’s team has a combination of strong guards, who push the ball up the floor quickly and quality inside play. The women’s team continues to put up great field goal and 3-pointer percentages. They put up a large amount of points in each competition. Both teams have an intelligent, composed and experienced coach leading them into battle. Last week, the men’s basketball team was ranked No. 10, and the women’s team was ranked No. 16. The men’s team handily defeated two ranked opponents at home.
We are ready for success—a success that can go beyond anything we have seen previously at this school. But there may be just one small thing missing, one thing that might deflect that perfectly arcing ball from stroking the nylon with the sweet sound of a pure shot. Where is our sixth man?
Basketball is an Indiana tradition, and the university and the athletic department have done everything they can to put exciting and talented teams out on the court. These Greyhound teams spend long hours in the gym sweating and breathing basketball. Hours are taken out of study time and socializing. They put everything they have into representing their university, and it’s time that we, as the sixth man, put in the same dedication.
It is time that we as a student body ask ourselves this question: Are we content to let another team walk into our home court without receiving a hospitable welcome to defeat? The gym in Nicoson Hall holds 4,000 and can easily be filled with “Hoosier Hysteria.”
Indianapolis is the center of our state, and UIndy should not sit back and let the Pacers and Butler steal the show. We are a basketball city, and this city deserves a reputation on every level of basketball. It’s time we lived up to the expectations of our state and became a central location where basketball can thrive, where the thrill of a playoff run and the speed of the game dictate our heart rate.
“Pack the House” is coming Feb. 22, when Great Lakes Valley Conference rival Bellarmine University will be visiting Nicoson Hall. If basketball has lost its allure since high school, or perhaps you never knew the excitement of the game, come and experience it. It’s something for which we are known, a game that is a part of our past and should not easily be forgotten.