Memorial Day weekend

As we approach the traditional start to summer, I pause to look back at the frenzied and significant year in Indiana sports. For some reason, this weekend has always given me the feeling of a fresh start. And it has also given me the chance to pause and reflect. With your indulgence, I’ll do that now.
Because this is Indiana, the story must begin with basketball. Kelvin Sampson’s first year as the head coach probably could not have been much better.

A 20-win season, including a perfect 15-0 record at home. A recruiting class as good as any to come this way in a decade, with an in-state centerpiece — Eric Gordon — who, through his actions, made it clear that he thought Sampson was the man to return Indiana to its former spot near the top of the college basketball world. A loss to an eventual Final Four team in the second round of the NCAA Tournament. The decision of top forward D.J. White to return and try to win an NCAA title next year.

Now, Sampson is no longer limited by NCAA sanctions and will return to the recruiting rotation later this summer.

Strangely, and sadly in this case, Indiana’s football team was almost as much a story as the basketball program over the last 12 months. Head coach Terry Hoeppner’s continued health problems have thrown the emerging program into flux. Now the fans wait, captivated with wonder. Will Hoeppner return? And, if not, will Bill Lynch be able to hold the team steady and get it to a bowl game for his friend Hep?

Indiana also began the process of reshaping its athletic plant over the past year. By 2010 the northern end of Memorial Stadium will be enclosed with a stunning addition, the basketball teams will have a new practice facility and there will new fields for baseball and softball. It seems probable that something — renovation or replacement — will be happening with Assembly Hall.

As the sun begins to bare down on us for another summer, my mind can’t help but fixate on all the possibilities for the next 12 months. Come early August football practice will start, and Hoeppner will either be there or he won’t be. Either way, the Hoosiers will move forward.

A month later, Eric Gordon will wear a cream and crimson uniform for the first time in competition on an island off the coast of Florida. On that paradise known as the Bahamas, Sampson and his team will begin a trip they hope will culminate in San Antonio, Texas — at the Final Four.

If you get a moment between the burgers and beverages and family moments this weekend, let me know what you see for Indiana athletics in the coming season. How will it all play out?

As for me, I’ll try to take it easy Saturday. On Sunday I’ll be reporting from the Indy 500.

Enjoy your weekends, all.

7 comments

  1. I thought the addition to Memorial Stadium was supposed to be done by 2009. Did planning it take longer than they had predicted or was there something else that caused the delay? By the way, however long it takes, it’s still gonna look awesome!

  2. Hoosier Fan,

    All of the projects are schedule to be completed earlier than 2010, but I decided to add a little bit of extra time in my estimate. You just never know how that stuff will actually turn out.

    Chris

  3. I’m not sure about the football team, but really hope coach
    can come back!
    As for basketball, we’ve got more talent than we’ve had
    in years, combined with a great coach. I predict a Big
    10 championship and a trip to at least the elite eight!

  4. This will be a banner year for IU in mens sports. The Soccer team will win the Big Ten (yet again), and should be strong enough to win the NCAA this year. Kelvin Sampson and the Basketball team should continue where they left off last year, giving us something to cheer about with IU basketball, and healing the wound that was opened some 7 years ago. Now to my favorite sport, football. I watched as much of the spring practices as I could, both open practices, and the spring game. This is as talented an IU football team as I have seen since the days of AT. Coach Hep is still the question mark, but I hold out hope he will be there to direct his team, and give them that extra fire the need. This is the year, we will play 13 games, 9-4 final record, with a Bowl win.

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