In the 2011-2012 college basketball season, the Indiana University student body experienced a rush of optimism unbeknownst since the Final Four upset against Duke. But in the NCAA Championship game of that 2002 season, Maryland claimed the national title over Indiana, and while fireworks illuminated the prideful Maryland, Bloomington was ignited in a very different way–extreme havoc had been unleashed on the campus.
I remember the 2002 Cinderella season. I was in third grade, and I hazily recall principal’s booming voice over the loud speaker as he announced proudly that the Hoosiers were advancing in the March Madness tournament. I honestly cannot tell you whether the team had just reached the Sweet Sixteen, Elite Eight, or Final Four, but I do remember that for two weeks our school hallway gleamed red. If you weren’t wearing a red shirt of some sort or black war paint, you better have on those silly candy-striped pants. I distinctly remember when one girl in my class came to school in all blue, the color of our arch nemesis of the season—the Duke [Blue] Devils. When Indiana upset the Blue Devils in the Final Four, we all decided to forgive Cassie in order to fully enjoy and embrace the victory. But when the Hoosiers fell short in the National Championship, the aura of disappointment far transcended my elementary school grounds. The streets of Bloomington were chaotic as enraged students took the streets by storm.
They always say good things come to those who wait. Whoever they were, they were right. A decade later, the Hoosiers were back, fronted by forward Cody Zeller of Washington, Indiana. Zeller comes from a basketball dynasty. He follows in his brothers’ footsteps as both lead their NCAA teams to success before joining the ranks of NBA athletes.
When Zeller emerged as an outstanding freshman, the crowd started taking note of other critical players. Watford with the threes, Oladipo with the dunks—there was obvious talent to be taken advantage of. My classmate’s older brother Jordan Hulls, whom I know from high school as Jordie, became a familiar face to more than just the native Bloomington crowd. As a team leader, Hulls commanded the court, organizing his team as each play demanded, and the townies relished the success of their old high school star.
The moment that cemented the Hoosier Nation’s revival? Easy. Indiana Hoosiers buzzer defeat of number one ranked University of Kentucky. In that fateful game, basketball enthusiasts from across the world watched one of the most memorable match ups of the season. Maybe I’m slightly biased, but when I sat in my friend’s room, eyes glued to his 22 inch TV, in the company of friends who asked me “why are they using the term field goal in basketball?”, I swear to have witnessed one of the most monumental moments of the year. In the last minute of the games, even those who were naïve to the workings of basketball were enthralled by the intensity of the last few minutes, but even I didn’t predict what was coming. Words can barely describe it adequately. If you missed it, watch this. Of course, my friends were in that crowd of Hoosiers that rushed to the court. I’m really not bitter about having come to school in D.C. I love this place. But man, wouldn’t it be awesome to have experienced the energy of hundreds stampeding the Assembly Hall?!