Game #9-096: Winthrop at Indiana State SycamoresNovember 13, 2012 7:05 pm
I arrived in Terre Haute under the inky blackness of November night. Having spent 14 of my previous 24 hours driving and 5 of those 24 inside the University of Michigan's Crisler Center, it seemed fitting to round out my day at a basketball arena after a long journey. Visiting schools for the first time is always exciting, but some of the experience is lost when the sun goes down. My perfect visit consists of three things: extensive Urbanspoon research, a brief walk around campus, and a long walk around the exotic sports facility I happen to be visiting. Of course, these elements rarely come together as planned.
I pulled into the parking garage across the street from the Hulman Center and made a beeline for the ticket window, earnestly hoping to make it to my seat before tip. The worst feeling in the world is having to wait for your credit card information to bounce halfway across the globe while you hear the scoreboard horn signal the conclusion of pregame festivities. Luckily, I made it to my upper bowl seat with plenty of time and settled in for a night of exciting hoops.
My traveling companion this evening was my friend Matt, an avowed basketball hater. He had briefly contemplated sleeping in the car instead of joining me for the contest, but I managed to convince him that it would be healthy to try something new. It's always tough taking someone like this to a game, because (for me at least) half of the time is spent worrying that they aren't having any fun. Unfortunately, if you have to ask...
The Sycamores and Eagles put on an entertaining show in the first half, trading leads and thrillingly destroying my expectations of an Indiana State rout. Periodically, I would sneak a glance at Matt on my right. He continued to wear the same dead-eyed expression that he had when we came in.
"Are you having fun?"
Near the end of the first half, my Gangnam Count rose to 5. I turned to Matt again.
"Oh-oh-oh-oh-oh OPPA GANGNAM STYLE!"
Silence. I guess there's no pleasing some people.
The exciting back-and-forth came to an abrupt end in the final two minutes of the first frame. Winthrop's Christian Farmer tagged Indiana State's all-MVC star Jake Odum with an inadvertent elbow (one of the most egregious on-court sins in the modern college basketball world), and the Sycamores made the most of the resultant technical. A 7-0 run closed the half for the home squad, who never trailed again.
At halftime, I took the opportunity to walk around the concourse, fulfilling at least one of my requirements for a perfect college hoops experience. The Hulman Center is an older arena (built in 1973) that shows its age with little grace. It doesn't work for a lot of venues, but there was a certain charm associated with this one's wear and tear. This building was built for a large crowd to witness a basketball game, and little else. One gets the sense that not much has changed since 1979 Larry Joe Bird led the Sycamores to arguably the brightest spotlight Our Game has ever received. On my walk, I passed a particularly telling t-shirt. The back read "Proud To Be A TREE". I suppose if Larry Bird had gone to my school I'd be pretty proud as well. Impressed and amused, I tried to explain the significance to Matt when I returned to my seat. No luck. At least he didn't ask who Larry Bird was.
The second half breezed by and the game ended with a margin more in line with my pregame prediction. As the buzzer sounded and the crowd began to head for their cars, I turned to Matt for a final time.
"So...did you at least enjoy yourself a little bit?"
"Eh. It was okay I guess."
I pumped my fist and grinned. Close enough.at INDIANA STATE 66, WINTHROP 55
WINTHROP 1-1 (0-0) -- D. Henry 5-14 5-5 15; A. Smith 3-10 2-2 11; J. Bourne 2-3 0-1 4; J. Jerome 1-8 0-1 2; G. Gamble 3-7 2-2 9; L. Brown 2-4 0-1 4; S. Johnson 1-7 1-2 4; C. Farmer 2-6 0-0 6; S. Diop 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 19-59 10-14 55.
INDIANA STATE 1-1 (0-0) -- J. Odum 3-5 9-10 15; K. Smith 2-4 0-0 4; D. Cummings 3-5 3-3 11; J. Gant 6-8 1-1 14; M. Arop 2-5 0-2 4; R. Mahurin 3-4 3-5 10; J. Kitchell 0-2 0-0 0; L. Eitel 1-3 0-0 3; D. Brown 1-1 3-6 5; R. Smith 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 21-37 19-27 66.
Three-point goals: WINT 7-26 (G. Gamble 1-4; J. Jerome 0-3; D. Henry 0-3; A. Smith 3-7; C. Farmer 2-6; S. Johnson 1-3), INST 5-13 (L. Eitel 1-3; R. Mahurin 1-2; M. Arop 0-2; J. Gant 1-1; D. Cummings 2-4; K. Smith 0-1); Rebounds: WINT 29 (L. Brown 7), INST 27 (M. Arop 5); Assists: WINT 6 (A. Smith 3), INST 9 (J. Odum 4); Total Fouls -- WINT 22, INST 14; Fouled Out: WINT-L. Brown; INST-None.