Special from John Huang for Midwest News and Sports
Totally bummed! I had forgotten how much I hated the Hoosiers! Growing up in the Bluegrass in the 70’s, UK’s biggest rival was not Louisville. It was not Tennessee, or Arkansas, or Florida. No, the Cat’s most hated adversary was the red menace from the border state up north–the Indiana Hoosiers.
Anyone with blue coursing through their veins remembers all the injustices heaped upon BBN by the team with the stupid looking candy cane warm up pants. Who can forget the likes of Kent Benson and his luckier-than-dirt game winning tip in, or Bobby Knight’s affectionate love tap to the back of Joe Hall’s head, or Steve Alford’s perfect hair, or Damon Bailey’s free throws, and of course the Watford shot? Before Indiana basketball’s spiral into obscurity, the Hoosiers were public enemy #1.
Forty years later, I’m seething again. Yesterday’s debacle at Wells Fargo Arena dredged up feelings of gloom not felt since Laettner’s turnaround dropped through the nets. The Cat’s just couldn’t get it going. As he has all season, Tyler Ulis played his heart out but IU went on a 10-2 run midway through the second half and UK just couldn’t recover. Our season long fears were realized. With no inside game and Jamal going ice cold, Indiana played just well enough to win. I guess I’ll grudgingly give them some credit.
So all the Iowa goodwill built up over the weekend dissipated with the abrupt ending to this roller coaster season. The beautiful golden domed State Capitol Building with its five story law library, the scrumptious “undead Elvis with fries and a shake” at Zombie Burgers on Grand Avenue, the Des Moines River snaking majestically through the downtown district, the world’s largest truck stop–all potentially indelible memories etched in my basketball travel journal, now reduced to the rubble of an on court disaster.
On one of the media shuttle rides back to the hotel, I got into a discussion with a couple of other local writers. Their disdain for BBN was evident. They implied that we were arrogant and opinionated and that we expected to win every single game. Yes, that’s true and what sets us apart. BBN always expects to win. We’re constantly fueled by unrealistic expectations and unbridled enthusiasm. When the Cat’s go down, every one of us dies a little bit. I hate myself for caring so much but I just can’t help it. Coach Cal always told us to “enjoy the ride”. As much as I want to comply, the ride back to Lexington just became unbearable. BBN NEEDS championship #9. I NEED to relax. The wins are coming.
Thanks to Alex, Tyler, Jamal, Coach Cal and the rest of the Cats from a grateful BBN. See you next year!