Let’s take a deep breath and consider the Indiana basketball implications.
Students started gathering outside of Assembly Hall probably 36 hours before the start of Hoosier Hysteria. It rained. The temperature dropped into the mid-50s. And still they came, dressed in rain gear and cold weather gear, exuding the kind of passion and optimism that can propel a team to beat Kentucky -- and, perhaps, win a national championship.
Amazing, isn't it?
Coach Tom Crean is no fool. He recognizes the energy and taps into it whenever possible, which is why he and his wife, Joani, showed up to support the students. Chicken wings from Scotties soon followed.
At some schools, and this might shock you, Friday nights are reserved for partying and bar hopping and, well, other activities. At Indiana on this night, they camped out to make sure they’d get the best possible seats for Hoosier Hysteria.
Understand, Hoosier Hysteria is not a game or competition. Nothing big or dramatic will happen at Assembly Hall. Players will shoot little, maybe dunk a little, maybe sing a little. There will be an autograph session. Crean will say a few words. Maybe a player or two will say a few things. The women’s team will get its moment in the spotlight. There might be a short scrimmage.
Oh, yes. A couple of dozen elite basketball recruits will be on hand to see this energy and passion for themselves, and then decide whether this is what they want for their college future.
In the meantime, more students gathered and excitement built Friday night. It all represented the buzz that surrounds this top-ranked program. There is hope and belief that, for the first time since 1987, IU will bring home a national championship, and everyone wants to get an early start on the fun.
For the record, Assembly Hall doors will open at 4 today. There will be an autograph session from 5 p.m. to 6 p.m. If officials stick to that schedule, you’d better get there early because time might run out before you get a chance to get anything signed.
Remember, Assembly Hall seats a little over 17,000. Will it be packed as Crean hopes for?
Anyway, here’s what Crean had to say about the impact of Hoosier Hysteria.
“I'm excited for it for a lot of reasons. Number one: because there's so much build-up for it. It's always been exciting, going back to year one, but I've never heard it talked about like it is right now. I think it will be huge for recruiting, I don't think there's any question about that. We moved it back a week with one goal in mind: to give every student at Indiana the opportunity to be at it because of the fall break (last week). I think we'll have a lot of fun.
"I'm looking forward to seeing the timeline and seeing what we need to tweak and what we need to add. I think our crew has done a great job of putting it together. We've had more crowd control conversations than we have ever had, but at the same time, there is going to be room for everybody.
“I think by the way they're opening the doors there won't be that mad dash and I hope we just absolutely pack it. And I hope that everybody that runs the fire department took a trip to the Bahamas this week so we can have standing room only in there and not have anything to think about in there. Just let them all come in and have a great time. It will be a fun night. It will be very unscripted for the players; just them have a great time. Now practice that afternoon will be a little different, but I think it will be fun."
Are you like me? Were you worried the Big Ten would run out of ways to make money?
Relax and chill out.
Fortunately the league now offers something called the Big Ten Digital Network. For an annual fee of $119.95, or $14.95 a month, you get hundreds of non-televised conference games and events, plus original Big Ten Network programming.
Also, IU will stream three live men’s basketball events –- Hoosier Hysteria, the Nov. 1 exhibition game with Indiana Wesleyan and the Nov. 12 game with North Dakota State.
Those games also aren’t free. You can tap into the streaming via IU’s All-Access page at www.IUHoosiers.com.
So now you know.