EDITOR’S NOTE: I set out to write a hater’s guide for the Crossroads Classic but, honestly, there’ll be plenty of time to hate Purdue later on in the year and Notre Dame basketball is hardly worth anyone’s time or attention.
There are a lot of tiresome debates when it comes to Indiana basketball. Hell, the entire endeavor of Rooting For The Hoosiers has become increasingly more exhausting ever since the team got their teeth kicked in by Pepperdine in the first round of the 2000 NCAA Tournament. Every couple of years we are awarded a brief reprieve from the descent into ignominy but, sooner or later, the free fall resumes.
But the one debate that catches fire more often than others is the WHO IS THE REAL RIVAL wherein just about everyone who grew up north of Bloomington will tell you it’s Purdue, everyone south will insist it’s Kentucky, and those who came of age during Eric Gordon’s recruitment (coinciding with an increase in popularity of the Rivals’ message boards) will see someone wearing Illinois colors and instinctively want to stuff them into the nearest portalet before kicking it down a hillside.
I’m not going to write an article arguing that it is, in fact, Butler who is Indiana’s true rival. That is immaterial to the importance of the message I’m trying to get across. Which is this:
Butler is The Worst.
A little bit about me: I came to Indiana University in the summer of 2007, shortly before the Indiana men’s basketball program was detonated by the NCAA. I saw precisely one-half season of decent basketball that culminated in a gutty win over an upstart Purdue squad before the coach resigned in disgrace, his interim replacement suffered a number of embarrassing losses before never coaching again, and then Tom Crean showed up. By the time the basketball program would take the court again, they would be woefully under-gunned and shackled by penalties, a trend that would continue for the foreseeable future.
In one of the most unfortunate coincidences in collegiate basketball history, Butler started making some real noise in the postseason while the Hoosiers languished in sanction purgatory. As Indiana lost to teams like Loyola (MD) and George Mason, Butler ripped off a 25-game win streak that culminated with an appearance in the NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP GAME in which they just about knocked off Duke. Then, to make matters so much worse, they had the audacity to reappear in the next season’s National Championship, this time losing to Connecticut in what might have been one of the very worst basketball games I’ve ever seen (the Huskies shot 35% from the field while the Bulldogs shot, I’m not kidding, 18.8%).
During these two years this disturbing phenomenon developed in which GOD-FEARING, CARD-CARRYING INDIANA UNIVERSITY BASKETBALL FANS thought it was perfectly fine to root for Butler while our own program was immolated over a slew of text messages.
An innocent walk to class would be ruined by the sight of someone wearing Butler regalia or a simple discussion about the upcoming Final Four completely undone as someone previously unassociated with the program referred to their now-beloved Bulldogs with the pronoun “we.”
I think we’ve got a great shot at the title. Yeah?? I think I’ve a great shot at beating you with a baseball bat.
The city of Indianapolis and its surrounding areas (the “Donut Counties” as it were), long a bastion of Indiana basketball fandom, became inundated with “Butler Fever”. I would get texts from my dad about how Butler was doing as I suffered through Indiana’s nine-game losing streak to end the 2011 season. A bespoke version of hell for the dedicated Hoosiers fan.
Do I blame Indiana fans for wanting to temporarily abandoning the Hoosiers for greener pastures while the program looked like Shadow’s old ass trying to crawl out of that mud pit at the end of Homeward Bound? Not really. Do I think those that did should all be rounded up and tried en masse at The Hague?
Hinkle Fieldhouse is a dump. It’s only considered good because it’s old as hell and reminds old people of when they could stand up without peeing a little. I’ve been to Assembly Hall a hundred times, I know a bad arena when I see one. Butler should go play in front of 3,300 people in a pro arena like a real Big East team. Or, better yet, they should load themselves into a cannon and shoot themselves into the sun.
Tomorrow is going to be trash, as it often is when Indiana invites Butler, Notre Dame, and Purdue to have a seat at their big boy table in an event that would immediately cease to exist if the Hoosiers decided to just stop showing up (HINT HINT). I know it’s the season to be charitable, but this has gone on long enough.
But what will make it so much worse will be when I’m crammed into a downtown bar watching Indiana hang onto a 1-point lead with a handful of seconds left and uhhh [randomly points at Butler roster] Aaron Thompson drops a floater in over Juwan Morgan’s head as the buzzer sounds. The bar erupts and a kid wearing a Butler pullover in the ALLEGED Indiana bar is going to start talking about how The Butler Way is what wills them to victory.
And then ol’ Papa Kyle is gonna end up in prison.