Hoosier Basketball

Hoops & Cornfields
Hoops & Cornfields

An Indiana Tradition

If you were to take a drive across central Indiana 25 years ago, there were two things you were guaranteed to see. That would be cornfields and basketball goals. I would wager that while on any given drive out in the rural of Indiana, you could not drive past more than one home that did not have a basketball goal, on the side of a barn, in the driveway or in the backyard. It WAS the Hoosier pastime. It was such a passion the term Hoosier Hysteria was tabbed to describe the state of excitement it produced every winter. This was the only “downtime” farmers had, so it was the perfect sport for all Hoosiers.

The term Hoosier once quotes as “A person born or living in Indiana, industrious, hospitable, down-home folk, who enjoys popcorn, race cars and BASKETBALL.”

James Naismithe
James Naismithe

The developement of the tradition

Even though the game was invented by James Naismith in 1891 in Springfield, Massachusetts, Legendary Coach Bobby Knight coined it as being developed in Indiana. Naismith once visited an Indiana basketball state finals game only to find 15,000 screaming fans, and later wrote "Basketball really had its origin in Indiana, which remains the center of the sport."

The Anderson Wigwam
The Anderson Wigwam

High School Basketball

As a kid every Friday night from mid November through the end of February was pre-planned. Basketball. There was always a great match up between area High School teams. I lived in Madison Country, with several county schools and we had three great City teams from Anderson. We had the Indians (Anderson High school), the Pirates, (Madison Heights High School) and the Highland Scots, all usually was in the top 10 team in the State. The best part was our county schools seemed to always manage to sneak at least one in the states top 20. The Anderson Indians was the home of the Wig-Wam which seated right at 9,000 people, and during tourney time it would pack in around 10,000, standing room only crowds. It is the second-largest high school gym in the world. In the early 70’s it had 4500 season ticket holders and always had a sold out crowd.

The Hinkle Fieldhouse at Butler University
The Hinkle Fieldhouse at Butler University

Just a few miles southeast of Anderson in a town called New Castle was the Fieldhouse that seated more than 10,000 and IS that largest High school gym in the world. It produced the likes of Kent Benson and Steve Alford.

As a mater of fact 15 of the 16 largest high school gymnasiums in the world are located in Indiana. These are known as Hoosier Temples.

The Indiana high school basketball championship was hosted at the legendary Hinkle Fieldhouse, at Butler University until 1971. It was built in 1928 as the second largest basketball arena in the world.

 

Gene Hackman in Hoosiers
Gene Hackman in Hoosiers

Hoosiers

There was a movie Hoosiers which was ranked number 13 greatest movies of all time by the American Film Institute. It did a marvelous job of capturing this “hoosier hysteria” on film. It was based upon the town of Milan, whose High School team won the 1954 State Championship.

Class Basketball

Up until 1996, every County held a tourney called the Sectional. The winner of that moved onto the Regional tourney, then the Semi-State and finally the State tourney. That all changed when they decided to enforce what is known as “Class Basketball”. Depending on the size of your school, you would be categorized into one of five classes. 1A would be for the largest, and 5a would be for the smallest schools. Each class now has its own tourney to determine a “state champion”.I think I speak for many Hoosiers, when we said it “Killed” basketball as we once knew it. The thrill of a small school going up against the large school to post an upset no longer exists. Most kids from small schools; win or lose, were motivated to do better than they believed was possible, to beat the big schools in a championship game. Class basketball removed that dream from kids.

Some of the greatest basketball players and coaches of all time had Indiana roots, such as: Larry Bird, Oscar Robertson, Olympian Steve Alford, Coaches Bobby Knight, and John Wooden to name a few.

Even though basketball is not quite the sport it once was in Indiana, the memories I have makes me very proud to call myself a hoosier.

Hooier Basketball player and Olypian Steve Alford
Hooier Basketball player and Olypian Steve Alford
Bobby Knight
Bobby Knight
Larry Bird
Larry Bird

Comments 20 comments

daPuma5 6 years ago

Indiana is the basketball state; Hoosiers rule. They always have. D


SaMcNutt profile image

SaMcNutt 6 years ago from Englewood, CO

My father-in-law's favorite movie is Hoosiers. I am sure he will love to read this hub. Thanks for sharing.


CMerritt profile image

CMerritt 6 years ago from Pendleton, Indiana Author

daPuma5,

Thanks for stopping by, and your comments are very accurate... :)


CMerritt profile image

CMerritt 6 years ago from Pendleton, Indiana Author

SaMcNutt, your father-in-law has great taste in movies. I appreciate you stopping by, and leaving a comment. :)


Wayne Brown profile image

Wayne Brown 6 years ago from Texas

There is no place more serious about the game. I own a copy of "Hoosiers" and I never tire of watching it. I think Gene Hackman's portrayal of the coach is my all time favorite character that he has played. There was a lot of truth depicted in that movie and much support of your discussion on the excitement of the times when there were no class boundaries...you played the game down to the last man. Great memories! Thanks for sharing! WB


CMerritt profile image

CMerritt 6 years ago from Pendleton, Indiana Author

Wayne, Hoosies IS truly a classic. I very much appreciate your comments.

:)


Husky1970 5 years ago

CMerritt - Hoosier basketball is truly unique. I'll never forget my first Final Four in Indianapolis. Bought a postcard of a filled-to-capacity Hoosier Dome for the high school state final. Awesome! Visited the Indiana High School Basketball Hall of Fame in New Castle. I have gone to two more Final Fours in Indianapolis since. It is absolutely the best venue in the country to hold the event.


CMerritt profile image

CMerritt 5 years ago from Pendleton, Indiana Author

Thanks Husky, Though Indiana Basketball has lost some of it's appeal due to class basketball format, it really is still a great Hoosier pastime. I have yet to make it to the IHSB in New Castle, but it is on my list of things to do in the very near future.

Thanks for coming by and reading my hub.

:)


crystolite profile image

crystolite 5 years ago from Houston TX

Love these work very well because i love playing basket ball,thank


CMerritt profile image

CMerritt 5 years ago from Pendleton, Indiana Author

I am glad you enjoyed crystolite! I love the game myself.

:)


4yearstrong profile image

4yearstrong 5 years ago

Great hub! I'm a big Butler fan! I found your hub when I wrote mine! haha

http://hubpages.com/sports/Butler-University-Baske...


CMerritt profile image

CMerritt 5 years ago from Pendleton, Indiana Author

I will check it out. Thanks for stopping by and commenting.

GO BULLDOGS!!

:)


arb profile image

arb 5 years ago from oregon

Great hub! Long time bruinb fan and I knew John Wooden personally as my Father in Law was the UCLA golf coach for 12 years. Any real basketball fan has got to know Indiana as a perrenial powerhouse, although they are on a current downswing. I remember Indiana State when bird was tearing up the world. Anyway, my brakets look like shreaded wheat this year. What happened to the big east?


CMerritt profile image

CMerritt 5 years ago from Pendleton, Indiana Author

Arb,

Wow, how cool is that, to know John Wooden? Very Cool.

Yes, the Big East took a hit by my Butler Bulldogs!!

Thanks for stopping by and commenting, I appreciate it.

:)


thelyricwriter profile image

thelyricwriter 5 years ago from West Virginia

Great article. I have follow Indiana since Bobby Knight. The rich heritage is like no other there. I always wanted to see a game played there. Voted up.


CMerritt profile image

CMerritt 4 years ago from Pendleton, Indiana Author

btw, how bout them hoosiers beating the #1 Kentucky Wildcats at the buzzer this weekend!!

wahoo!


femmeflashpoint 4 years ago

Chris,

I just read this and I loved it. And, you bet our yard, our neighbors yards, and pretty much every other yard between our farm and town had a basketball hoop. We played on grass courts, dirt courts, or paved courts, if we were in town and near the school.

We played in season and out of season, didn't matter, as long as we had time for softball and baseball practice too.

My little brother is 6'5". I hated playing him once he passed me in height (I'm 5'6"). But, it made for great practice when playing against others, lol.

I loved Hoosiers! Every time I watch it I feel like nearly everyone in the movie is my neighbor, lol!

Enjoyed this one a lot! Great hub!


CMerritt profile image

CMerritt 4 years ago from Pendleton, Indiana Author

femmeflash,

Thanks for sharing you story of hoosier basketball....it WAS a great childhood for so many of us hoosiers...and basketball still is very much loved here in Indy.

I appreciate your comments.

Chris


teaches12345 profile image

teaches12345 4 years ago

Boy, does this bring back memories of my childhood in Indiana. Every Friday night was basketball from November until March. It still is pretty big and some of the best players and coaches come from the mid-west. Who can compare with Bobby Knight with his candid behavior?


CMerritt profile image

CMerritt 4 years ago from Pendleton, Indiana Author

Hoosier basketball is the very best!! Where in Indiana are you from?

Chris

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