In the winter of 2008, I made the four hour trek from my hometown down to Bloomington. The drive was bleak, the landscape was gray, and the radio signal got pretty weak somewhere between Kokomo and Indianapolis. But I was going to see Eric Gordon and D.J. White at my first Indiana University basketball game. 5 NCAA Championships. 53 All-Big 10 selections. The only undefeated champion season in college men’s basketball. Royalty.
Gordon ended up scoring 28 points, I experienced the best timeout in college basketball, and didn’t have an ounce of vertigo in the balcony of Assembly Hall. In short, the experience made me a lifelong fan.
But with true loyalty comes necessary tragedy. Kelvin Sampson was let go in a recruiting scandal. Potential players fled. My first three years at IU were a hard slog through coaching transitions, dashed recruit hopes, and infuriating losses. But by my senior year, we were on our way up, and the game against #1 ranked Kentucky solidified that Hoosier Basketball was back on top. This story from my alma mater captures some of that electric feeling that fans got back.
This is an emotional, fan-driven episode with fantastic, layered production, solid writing, and great host banter. There’s always a great story in athletics, and #1 Wildcats v. the comeback-kids Hoosiers is certainly one of them. With some more hard information, this episode could fit easily into any long-form sports or human interest programming.
Other than shortcomings in background, the nearly flawless production, great voice work, and clip selection really brought me back. I was immersed in Hoosier hysteria. It took me from an IU School of Journalism classroom to Afghanistan, to the floor of Assembly Hall, to a back corner at Nick’s. Robb and Ryan effectively show how a fan’s connection to a team is almost transcendent (cue Radiolab effects). Great use of natural sound, nicely scattered fast paced transitions, and thoughtful writing. I would have also liked some hard evidence of the impact that that game had on IU, rather than just anecdotal. The Wat-Shot got an ESPY and a drink named after it. We made it to the Sweet 16! We were 1st ranked this season! Home games are packed now! People wear IU gear to ND v Purdue games! It was certainly a big deal. This production team brings it home emotionally, but I’d like some of the harder stuff to back it up. Overall, a fun listen that most NCAA b-ball fanatics and Hoosier fans would drool over.