As I wait through the final hour before the annual Indiana-Kentucky game, I began thinking about why I have come to enjoy watching these 5-4 Hoosiers.
I didn't start out all that excited about the team. I watched the blow-out by Notre Dame and Wake Forest and thought I would only be interested in maybe the first few minutes of an IU game this year. But then I saw them beat Cornell, hang with Gonzaga and then take apart TCU and became a little more optimistic.
This team appears to be improving. The first two blow-outs I mentioned, there was almost no rebounding. But against TCU, the team was all over the boards. My only complaint now is they miss too many lay-ups for my taste.
The key thing for me is I can see the effort the players give each night. And it appears other fans can as well. After a 16-point loss to Gonzaga (don't kid yourself, that game was a lot closer that the final score), the team got a standing ovation from the Lucas Oil Stadium crowd. They may not the most-talented team, but these Hoosiers appear to give the winning effort for 40 minutes a game. I'm not sure we could say that about previous years' Hoosiers.
Terry Hutchens in today's Indianapolis Star wonders whether this year's team could emulate the early 90's Kentucky teams. Then UK coach Rick Pitino inherited a team banned from the post-season with a bunch of young players. The rebuilding job was complete by 1992, when UK got to the regional finals of the NCAA tournament and lost what is considered one of greatest college basketball games ever played.
I don't think these Hoosiers have that much potential, but I still applaud the effort. As another friend of mine said this morning, people want to see them play this year because they appreciate the underdog. I hope they can get maybe one or two quality wins this year to boost their confidence.
And hopefully I'll be able to witness that big effort this year, because it won't be long before tickets will be hard to come by again.