Image courtesy of Drew LaMontagna
here are few places in the world where you can find a man dressed in a big America suit, a 90-year old man with a walking cane, former NBA players, and a Cody Zeller signed baby all in the same place. Bloomington, Indiana however, can check all of those off its list.
If a person not from around these parts were to drive by Assembly Hall earlier on Saturday, they would have thought that…well, I don’t know what they would have thought, but damn were there a lot of people. As a buddy of mine described it, the line outside of Assembly Hall “looked like a huge game of snake.” If it was indeed a game of snake, it would’ve ranked up there with the greatest snake games of all time.
It just. Kept. Going.
Makes sense considering fans began lining up for Hoosier Hysteria as early as Friday evening and camping out overnight. When Indiana University alumni and current ESPN SportsCenter anchor Sage Steele was asked about it, she noted that she was amazed not only by the number of people in line, but the large amount of variety of the individuals.
“It’s not just the students…it’s people of all ages, of all generations.”
Indeed it was.
Just ask the sweet old lady who just happened to catch a shirt that was shot out into the crowd before the event began. Appropriately, after catching it, the woman was cheered by remaining 17,499 other people inside the building. I would put an age range to give you an idea, but just about every demographic was at Assembly Hall on Saturday night.
How diverse was the crowd? Well, as I mentioned earlier, I did indeed get confirmation that Cody Zeller did put his John Hancock on a baby. Do the parents of such baby plan on washing their child? That has yet to be determined.
By definition, Sage Steele was emceeing the event, but if you were to ask Victor Oladipo, I think he would say otherwise. Vic took the reigns, if you will, during the long-shot competition. If going to the next level doesn’t work out for the star athlete, I think it’s safe to say he has a career in entertainment. I think Saturday night was his way of getting footage out there, almost like an open tryout for either ESPN or an Ochocinco type reality TV show – I’m not really sure which one yet.
When I asked Tom Crean if that was planned or not, he said it was planned in the sense that he was going to say some stuff, he just didn’t know to what extent. The extent that he is referring to varied from calling out freshman Yogi Ferrell’s fro, to getting into teammate Austin Etherington’s head while shooting by saying, “Don’t get nervous, there’s only 18,000 people watching.” Can you say personality?
Crean did make it a point to mention that he has that same style on the court. “When he’s out there playing and he’s got that energy at a high level…he’s really, really good.”
Yes. Yes he is. He is also good enough to defend his dunk contest title from last year – a feat he accomplished by jumping over a crowd of seven brave individuals to take the crown.
Oladipo wasn’t the only one to create some laughs around The Hall, though. Jordan Hulls and Kory Barnett had their way with Derek Elston. Hulls mentioned how some of the guys keep a book that they created, a book full of “Derekisms.” “What are Derekisms?” you might ask. Look no further – I have the official (sort of) definition right here:
Derekisms (n.) – Quotes or phrases from Derek Elston that may occur at any time in which Derek says something that may not be the smartest thing to ever come out of his mouth.
An example? Barnett was all over it after he stole the mic from Jordy (who was reluctant to share a story) to put Elston in his place. He started by saying that they were on a bus and Barnett looked over at Elston who was aimlessly starring into the window, for what he said was close to 30 minutes. On the bus, Elston turned to Kory and in a puzzled and confused way asked. “Kory, I don’t get it man, why is it called NYC? New York ends in a ‘K’.”
College education at its finest, right there folks.
Regardless, there were plenty of laughs to be had throughout the night. Even Cody Zeller had the last laugh after he WON the long-shot contest. WON it. I don’t know if I should be happy that he won, or a little bit worried that nobody could beat him out.
To put this intense, yet light-spirited event into 13 inches is just impossible. I still get the chills just thinking about the video that was played from all of Indiana basketball’s history. If you went to Hoosier Hysteria and didn’t get the chills, then I’m sorry but you have some bigger issues you need to address.
All in all, it was a phenomenal event hosted by a phenomenal program – one that sits atop the pre-season NCAA national rankings. For the seniors, this year will be particularly special, as they were at the bottom not too long ago when they first stepped foot in Assembly Hall. I wouldn’t mind seeing them get a fat ring to seal the deal on their four years here at IU – I think they deserve it.
The atmosphere was amazing, the fans were incredible and every seat was filled. Sage Steele herself had this to say on the craziness and overwhelming support for IU basketball this season, “I don’t recall the feeling ever being like this.”
That pretty much sums up all you need to know. I won’t leave you with some stupid cliché comment to end this piece, I’ll just end you with the words of Tom Crean himself, I think it’s more fitting.
“That’s the Hoosier nation. It’s awesome.”