So it is said that if you know your enemies and know yourself, you will win a hundred times in a hundred battles—The Art of War by Sun Tzu as read by Joe Mantegna (yes, that Joe Mantegna, seriously)
OK, so the North Carolina game didn’t quite go off as I had planned, but, hey, I’m not the only one missing out on predictions these days–that’s right, I’m referring to presidential psychic, Jeane Dixon. Unfortunately for everyone, the aftermath of the UNC game appears to be a storyline lifted directly from “The Hills” with immature language from people old enough to know better, “will he or won’t he” intrigue for the protagonist (antagonist?), and a veritable media circus hanging on every morsel of information no matter how suspect or trivial.
It is amidst all of this that a sickly Kentucky team enters this week’s matchup against the Indiananananas. If you were born post 1985, you likely don’t realize just how big this rivalry is as the Hoosiers failed to keep up their end of the hate-fest in the last years of crazy old man, Bobby Knight and all the years of crazy young man, Mike Davis. Both are top 5 programs all-time and their respective states are closely associated with the sport of basketball. Hoosier fever isn’t quite what it once was in Indiana, but, rest assured, they can still get up for the Cats.
In order to provide context, you must understand that despite growing up in the wonderful east Kentucky mountains, I now live, and occasionally work, in Indianapolis. Two years ago, as this blog was just starting up, we each agreed to go undercover and infiltrate the fanbase of some of UK’s most hated rivals. I was assigned Indiana and moved accordingly. Tomlin was given UNC, but claimed that his draft status was 4F due to lost hearing in one ear and refused to go. The Intern was assigned to Duke but refused to convert to Judaism and never went. The Turkey Hunter was all set to move to Lawrence, Kansas, before he learned he would have to step on a plane. As it stands, I am the only one that went through with the plan, and despite having to change my last name and come up with a back story whereby I could claim knowledge of corn and open wheel racing, I have been successful in gathering much intelligence on the Hoosier faithful. I present to you…the remainder! (kind of anti-climactice wasn’t it?)
Indiana. Land of the Indians. Home of the Indy 500, NCAA headquarters, and Jim Nabors (Goober says “Hey”). The most annoying part of Indiana is that the residents are not called Indianans, Indiananites, or anything actually involving the word “Indiana”, but insist on “Hoosiers”. I didn’t quite realize this until I moved here, but it is true: They all think of themselves as Hoosiers and this is disjointed from whether they are IU fans or not. The histories of Indiana, Bloomington, and Indiana University are all incredibly boring, so I’ll just make a history up for them. Bloomington was founded in 1311 by Irish-Catholic separatists intent on establishing an autonomous community that would be centered around a pack of dogs. The dogs would be their leaders, their doctors, their gods. Within five years, the settlers realized the community’s progress wasn’t all that impressive and elected humans to their government for the first time–this was the birth of democracy. It would be these very humans that would form Indiana into a state and join the Union in 1620. In those days, most people lived to be around 300 years old. I think I’ll stop there.
IU can claim Middleboro’s own Lee Majors, broadcasters Joe Buck, Dick Enberg, and Jane Pauley, the founder of Steak and Shake, and the current US Secretary of Defense, Robert Gates, as alums. However, IU also hosted a gentleman who would go on to be quite a persuasive leader: cult leader Jim Jones. In short, after graduate school at IU, Jones began selling monkeys door-to-door (that can’t be right) to fund the church he had founded. From here, it was just a few short years till he was full-blown crazy, claiming divinity. In essence, his cult drifted further and further from the mainstream as it gathered more converts until finally Jones moved the entire community to a compound in Guyana, South America that he humbly named Jonestown. It was here that Jones led 900 of his followers in a mass suicide that has become infamous the world over. You really think Indiana is a Final Four team based on super freshman Eric Gordon and inconsistent D.J. White? Don’t drink he Kool-aid.
Cheerleader Scouting Report
Not all that impressive, so I won’t spend much time here. Sports Illustrated has named a Hoosier cheerleader their “Cheerleader of the Week” two times this year, but it has to be based (foolishly) on their talent. Sadly, it doesn’t appear that IU even has a dance team. Does that mean the basketball team has to dance provocatively at halftime to “Gimme More”?
Pretty storied. For the 2nd week in a row, UK goes up against one of the members of the college basketball Mount Rushmore in Indiana University. IU started things in 1901 with a convincing 20-17 loss to Butler. 1924 would see the Hoosiers take on the Wildcats for the first time with the Hoosiers coming away with a 20-18 victory although they undoubtedly cheated. IU would win their first NCAA Tournament in 1940–the first of 5 for the Hoosiers (5 < 7 in case you're wondering). Isaiah Thomas (pre-insanity) played here as did Larry Bird before transferring to Indiana State. So did the great Damon Bailey. Not sure who this is? Just think of him as Indiana's version of Richie Farmer: Unbelievable prep career (Indiana Mr. Basketball 4 times) which led to a very solid college career.
I guess we have to talk about Eric Gordon, don't we. After all, he is more electrifying than a Bachman Turner Overdrive Concert. Actually, that's too easy. Let's just go with Brett Finkelmeier. Ol' Brett is a redshirt walk-on (you want to hang on to his eligibility as long as you can) that hails from Carmel, IN otherwise known as Uppitytown. Everyone in Carmel lives in mansions and drives limosines to the grocery store. Brett averaged 13 points in high school and his IU biography lists several accolades from his high school days--all involve academics. While there's no chance we will see Finkelmeir this Saturday, I would love to see him matched up against Kentucky's own super walk-on, Dusty Mills. They played against one another in high school, but I cannot find the box score anywhere. When asked to comment on Finkelmeier's role on this year's team, Kelvin Sampson responded, "Hang on one second, I have to take this".
My Legion of Predictions begins with this: Over the course of the next few years, opposing teams will play these songs during Hoosier warm-ups: "Call Me" (Blondie), "Operator" (Jim Croce), and "the Call" (Backstreet Boys). Get used to it. Unfortunately, this Saturday's game is in Bloomington, so no such phone-fun will be had. To no one's surprise, Patrick Patterson outplays D.J. White in this one, but to everyone's surprise Michael Porter outplays Eric Gordon. Porter finishes with 32 points and 16 assists while holding Gordon to 4 and -2. The Cats kick the ghost of Bobby Knight (he is dead, right?) squarely in the crotch on their way to a 111-19 victory over the Hoosiers. I also predict that I will show up to work triumphantly on Monday wearing Kentucky blue and a Wildcat mask all the while screaming, "Indiana Sucks!". My customers will not be impressed and will choose not to do business with my company. Also, Legion comes back and is instructed to NEVER have his mother around Gillispie ever again or he's gone for good.
Keeping with the mustache theme: Ladies and Gentlemen, Mr. JIM CROCE!
Please, please, please win this game for me, Cats. It was truly unbearable two years ago when we got smoked by an average Indiana team and I don’t think that I can bear the guffaws of my co-workers if the Hoosiers should win. I rarely advocate the use of steroids and other performance enhancers to anyone not on the Little League team I coach, but for this one occasion I might look the other way if it gets the Cats a victory. Go Cats!