Hoosier Hysteria: Through My Eyes
On Saturday, September 29th, 2018 at about 9:00am I arrived at Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall for Hoosier Hysteria, just like I have every year since the public has been allowed in to watch the first practice of the year. So much has changed over the course of all of those years, and depending on who you ask, some of the change has been good, and some, well not so good.
This year was no different. I’ve read where some people didn’t care for it, and I’ve read where some people loved it. I for one have loved it every year. I personally think it really just depends on what your expectations are to begin with. If you’re going thinking you’re going to see a bunch drills ran like it was it the “old days” then you are in for a rude awakening. And if this year was any indication of the direction it’s heading, if you are going to hear the coaches or some guest emcee talk for a lengthy period of time, again, you may leave disappointed.
Let’s be honest here, the university can’t please everyone. In my opinion, Hoosier Hysteria is first and foremost is a chance for the players to have a little fun after a long and grueling summer of working out and working on their game. It’s also an opportunity for us fans to see the team for the first time in about seven months. It helps build excitement for a fanbase that in some, okay a lot of cases, may be having some withdrawals from having to wait so long to see their beloved Hoosiers. And more importantly, it is a huge recruiting tool, and believe me, that can’t be overstated.
As far as this years version of Hoosier Hysteria, it was everything I thought it would be and then some. Seeing the women’s program, including Tyra Buss & Amanda Cahill who were on hand, watch their NIT Championship banner be raised to the rafters of SSAH was pretty special. Coach Teri Moren has done an amazing job since her arrival and although she was as thrilled as the players to see that banner go up, you can see it in her eyes, she’s not satisfied. Tyra & Amanda helped lay the foundation of what Coach Moren is trying to build, and the group of young ladies on this years squad seem eager to continue build on it. There is some talent there, without a doubt. They should be a fun bunch to watch and root for.
I was pleased with the early start time, and due to the number of kids that were in attendance, I believe a lot others were as well. Since this is meant to be a fun event for everyone from the players, to the fans, it should be at a time that helps families get excited for the upcoming season together. It shouldn’t go unmentioned, the weather while standing outside was incredible as well. The players serving pizza’s to us fanatics while we waited in line was welcomed by all. One particular little boy standing near me in line was in disbelief that he was standing that close to Juwan Morgan. I thought, “his smile could not get any bigger.” I was wrong. Because when Juwan posed for a picture with him, believe me, it did!
I was a little disappointed while standing in line when I spotted Keion Brooks Jr. and there was no one from our line that hollered his name, or anything for that matter. So me, the “old guy,” took it upon himself to do it. I was greeted with a wave from him, and then about 10 questions as to who he was. Huh? What? Excuse me? Those were some of my initial responses, but they weren’t what I was initially thinking. But I explained who he was, who Trayce Jackson-Davis was, and who Kristian Lander was. I know some, heck maybe most, people don’t follow recruiting as closely as I do, but two in-state 5-Star talents are on their official visits should be known in my opinion.
The 3D imaging projection on the floor was unbelievable to me. Even as an “old guy” I loved it. I wasn’t the only one either because there were a lot of oooh’s and aaah’s heard when the first glimpse of flames could be seen in the corner of Branch McCracken Court. It was meant for everyone in attendance, but the fact that the recruits in attendance were seated center court with the absolute best view available instead of their customary spot in the corner of the bleachers should tell you something. I always look at the recruits to gauge their reactions to certain things that happen, and although it was a little harder to do that this year because I didn't want to look away from the court for too long myself, I did enough to see that they were impressed. Will that alone make a kid commit? Nope. But it may help, and it for sure won’t hurt anything at all either.
This years edition of Hoosier Hysteria was short in comparison to years past, and that was helped along due to there not being long periods of downtime between speakers, or competitions, or anything for that matter. They crammed a lot into that hour and a half or so that it took, and I think from that standpoint it was one of the better Hoosier Hysterias that there has been. Seeing Victor Oladipo and Cody Zeller speak about why they so generously gave back to the university to help with the players lounge was special to me. Mainly because you can tell how much they loved their time at Indiana University, and keep coming back.
Although there’s a lot of youth that will play meaningful minutes, the depth, the shooting, and the athleticism are the three things stood out the most to me in our brief glimpse of the players. All three of those things are an upgrade over Coach Miller’s first seasons roster. How quick they can gel as a unit, accept their roles, and adapt to the speed of physicality of the college game, will determine how soon this team will be good. But make no mistake, they will be good.
I always enjoy any time I spend in Bloomington, but Hoosier Hysteria weekend, although not as much fun as the games I attend, it is still a pretty special weekend in it’s own right. This past weekend was no different.