It’s a Friday night in October, damn near midnight, and we’ve finally arrived in Bloomington.
We’re staying way west of campus, because when you plan trips like this with old college friends at the last minute, options are limited.
A cab picks us up. We’re headed to Kilroy’s. Our driver tells us his family used to gather round the television for Saturday Indiana basketball games without fail during the Bob Knight era. But since The General’s been gone, he refuses to watch. Once a pillar of love, Indiana hoops has turned his heart hard.
I tell him to give Tom Crean and the new guys a chance. Tell him Crean values a lot of the same things Knight did: Academics, graduation rates, young men of character.
As we exit the cab, I don’t think I’ve changed his mind.
Kilroy’s is different. Unrecognizable, even. The booths along its south wall have vanished for a stairway to a second floor. The famed birth canal — inconvenient as it was — is gone. There’s a patio out back now.
This is not what I remember. This is not how it was.
And maybe, just maybe, I can empathize with our cab driver.
We’re walking across 17th from the tailgate fields — which are more tame these days — to Memorial Stadium. With its recent addition, the stands now wrap behind the north end zone. The sun shines off its glass.
I see the newly-constructed Cook Hall in the parking lot to the east. Kids in my dorm at Briscoe used to park their cars there. Now, brand-new courts and whirlpools and weights and 24-hour access entry points reside, and the state’s finest high-school basketball talent comes for open gyms to get their first taste of the program.
It’s a strong first impression.
The five banners inside Assembly Hall, once the defining trait of the program, don’t matter as much to these kids born years after Keith Smart hit that baseline bucket.
Inside the Hall turns four years old today. Or maybe its our four-year anniversary.
Things have changed since the summer of 2007. Our design got a makeover, and will again soon, if I ever get around to it. Joe joined to provide recruiting news. Eamonn has left. As has Zach. Someone new will be helping us in the fall.
Alex has gone from anonymous blogger to professional journalist. He now has sources in and around the program. He’s credentialed for games. He has a relationship with both the media relations and coaching staff. He knows what’s happening with this team on an intimate level.
He’s relentlessly pounded the recruiting pavement on the weekends this summer, leaving behind his wife and baby boy — new additions to his life since ITH’s inception — to provide content for the site.
I admire his dedication and hustle.
Me? I grew a beard.
Change continues to come in the Tom Crean era: Cody Zeller is on campus. The class of 2012 brings with it an excitement not seen in Bloomington in too long.
We thank you for being here. We thank you for reading. We invite you, as life’s impermanence continues to come for all, to continue to join us on this journey.