Lately, holding on to my IU basketball faith is more difficult than getting the cat to love me. As I reflect on the dismal 40 points scored against Minnesota’s 61 points, I once again question what exactly it is that I’m holding on to. My character is susceptible to the lure of being a fan. I latch on to things that excite me and I really do like to cheer. (Despite my seemingly indifferent exterior, rest assured that I am excited on the inside.) But at what point do I cease to be a fan and start to be just pathetic? I don’t want to give up on the team. Some of the guys, like Marshall Strickland, mean something to me, but none of them will ever mean what Tom Coverdale meant. Am I, then, just living in the past? Did the IU basketball ship sail while I was out getting Coney dogs for the game?
It’s been almost four year since the amazing run to the Big Dance that cinched my loyalty. Four years is a substantial relationship but it isn’t a marriage. I’m feeling very mixed up about my basketball now. In the years since the 2002 national championship, I have grown into more than an IU fan. It stretched into the Big Ten and then into the NCAA as a whole. I like this time of the year, and I look forward to it. I hesitate to type the words, but do I need to go shopping for a new team? Because I grew up in Indiana, I will never be comfortable rooting for an out-of-state team. That leaves me with Purdue, Notre Dame, and IU from which to choose. Now IU is looking pretty good.
This crisis of faith is temporary, I’m sure. They will beat Northwestern on Wednesday and I’ll be embarrassed of this post. I’m just struggling with my faith right now. Where is it, exactly? Is it still with Tom and those guys, and if it is, how do I transfer it to this new crop of players? I have real basketball fondness that extends beyond IU so I won’t be looking for something else to do in March. I want to be able to love these guys enough so that two stupid games in January don’t disappoint me past the point of no return. The trick is, probably, not to think about it so much. That is my fatal flaw. If I were in a Shakespeare play, I would literally think myself to death.
I’ll have other crises before the season ends. And I will think about Tom every time I watch this team play. IU basketball is as much about history and loyalty and pride as it is about skill and talent. This team has the latter set of qualities, but their heads aren’t always in the game and, more importantly, neither are their hearts.