Game #8-545: Detroit Titans at Butler BulldogsFebruary 4, 2012 12:00 pm
There was a big sporting event going on in Indianapolis last weekend, and it wasn't at Hinkle Fieldhouse. Indeed, the city's attention was transfixed on downtown and Sports Bubble Stadium for the World Championship of American Gridiron Football.
Downtown was abuzz with activity in the days prior to the Super Bowl. I came into town on Thursday to soak up some of the Sports Bubble Buzz. Blocks of streets had been closed to set up free concerts on stages sponsored by cell phone companies and soft drink purveyors, street entertainers, displays of ice sculptures, IndyCars wrapped in the colors of the Giants and Patriots, overpriced concessions, and a zip line flying down Capitol Avenue. On an average day, 90,000 people flocked downtown to wrap themselves in the experience, parking a mile away from downtown to get there. The festivities and gridlock caused IUPUI to move their game against IPFW to a 1 p.m. tip instead of 7 p.m., ruining my chance at a Saturday doubleheader.
The Roman numerals popped up everywhere. From a display on Indianapolis' famed Monument Circle to the famed Westin where the NCAA Division I Men's Basketball Committee will live for five days and decide the fates and destinations of hoops squads around the nation.
One company took advantage of a marketing tie-in to hand out long, flowing blond wigs and jerseys with "Matthews" on the back. Making yourself look like an idiot supposedly gave you a chance to win $500 if one of the company's secret spotters saw you walking around like this.
ESPN had engaged in a form of "Occupy Pan Am Plaza," where the Horizon League offices are located. A mobile studio and miniature football field had been set up. Many folks gathered in hopes to get into a camera shot or see a celebrity. In my brief walk by, I noticed Herm Edwards was taking a moment to greet fans.
But there was a positive to the Football-Industrial complex being in town. A rather insignificant basketball game between two average basketball teams was suddenly a hot ticket. Normally, a walk-up ticket is pretty easily obtainable for a Butler game, unless it's for a marquee opponent. Upon arriving into town, I noticed my Twitter feed indicating that only 600 tickets or so remained. So, I made a detour to Hinkle to pick up a ticket for Saturday's game. That indeed proved prudent, as this sign greeted me at Gate 3 when I arrived.
Hinkle can be an electric environment when it's half full. But at capacity on a Saturday afternoon, it's almost spiritual. And apparently, many out-of-towners wanted to get a taste of the Hinkle mystique. They would be pleasantly surprised by a pregame presentation welcoming Angelo Pizzo and David Anspaugh, the writer and director of Hoosiers
back to Hinkle.
Despite the average record, Butler has continued to scrap and hustle to get better every day. Sophomore Khyle Marshall was unavailable due to a concussion from the previous day's "jog-through" practice as Brad Stevens termed it. Seriously, who gets a concussion at a full-speed practice, let alone one at about 60% intensity? Then in the first three minutes of the game, Ronald Nored tried to test the durability of the Hinkle hardwood, as old as the building itself, with his face. Here is the end result.
(screencap courtesy of @bubbaprog)