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Bball
04-01-2006, 02:00 AM
By Pat Forde | ESPN.com


"In 49 states it's just basketball ... but this is Indiana."
-- Video boards in Conseco Fieldhouse.

INDIANAPOLIS -- That declaration is meant as a rallying cry, a point of pride. These days in the humiliated Hoosier state, it should be viewed as a call to arms.

The state of basketball is lamentable in the state that loves basketball the most. And something needs to be done about it.

The nation's capital of hoops is convulsed in a full-blown, honest-to-Hickory identity crisis. The Final Four, the ultimate celebration of the game, returns to hardwood Mecca for the first time in six years -- and finds the holy land desecrated by bad ideas, bad decisions, bad teams and bad actors. From preps to pros, the franchise sport of Indiana is in lousy shape.

If the Wizard of Westwood has one more magic basketball act in his wand, he should use it to heal his home state. Alas, John Wooden is 95. The Martinsville native and Purdue graduate won't be here for the Final Four.

Perhaps it's a good thing, because Wooden wouldn't like what he would see:

The Prep Tournament

World-famous Indiana high school basketball, the stuff of myth and legend, ruined perfection by switching eight years ago from a single-class state tournament to four classes. The ultimate meritocracy in youth sports has become the ultimate mediocrity. More trophies are awarded; far fewer fans care.

"We had a national heritage that they just gave up," said Bobby Plump, the man who hit the most famous shot in the history of Hoosier Hysteria. It was the shot that gave little Milan High its miracle state title in 1954 over powerhouse Muncie Central and spawned a Cinderella story told a million times over, most notably in the movie "Hoosiers."

In 1962, a reported 1.55 million fans attended state tournament games. Now, Plump says, attendance is about one-third of that. In 1990, 41,046 fans flocked to the then-Hoosier Dome to watch Damon Bailey close out his legendary high school career with a state title. This year, having long since downsized from the dome to Conseco, a total of 31,828 fans watched all four state title games.

"The people have not embraced it," Plump said. "But I don't think they will admit they made a mistake."

The Prep Players

High school basketball has forfeited its charm, but not its talent. The state that produced Oscar Robertson, Rick Mount, George McGinnis, Larry Bird, Steve Alford, Glenn Robinson, Bailey and countless others still churns out great players today.

Problem is, they can't wait to get out of Indiana for college.

Last week Indianapolis Lawrence North High won its 45th straight game and third consecutive state title behind 7-foot center Greg Oden, potentially the best Hoosier baller since Bird, and guard Mike Conley Jr. Their college destination: Ohio State.

The two best talents in last year's class were big man Josh McRoberts of Carmel and point guard Dominic James of Richmond. They started as freshmen for Duke and Marquette, respectively.

In recent years the talent drain has taken Zach Randolph to Michigan State, Jason Gardner to Arizona and Sean May to North Carolina. In 2007 it will take Indianapolis guard Eric Gordon, possibly the best junior in America, to Illinois.

"About all our good high school players are going out of state," said Bird, now president of basketball operations for the Indiana Pacers. "...That's something that probably hurts more than anything. It's very important to try to keep our kids in-state. That's how you have an identity."

The Colleges

College basketball in the state has lost its leadership, lost its star power and lost far too many games. Ultimately it has lost its place among the elite.

Flagship programs Indiana and Purdue are enduring brutal times.

The five-time national champion Hoosiers have stumbled through four undistinguished, acrimonious seasons since a surprise 2002 run to the NCAA title game. That resulted in the firing of Mike Davis and the tepidly received hiring of Kelvin Sampson from Oklahoma -- neither a glitzy name nor an "IU family name."

Upon the announcement of his resignation in February, Davis declared, "What I want is for this program to be united."

Former Hoosier Ted Kitchel told the Indianapolis Star this week, regarding the Sampson hire: "I wouldn't hire that guy to coach my fifth-grade girls team."

So much for unity. The struggle for the soul of the Hoosiers rages on unabated, six years after it began with the firing of icon Bob Knight.

"The program has definitely been in disarray," said Bailey, now the coach at his alma mater, Bedford North Lawrence High School. "I don't ever want to put the blame on coach Davis; I think he was in a no-win situation from day one. He had some seasons a lot of programs would be happy with, but Indiana wants an opportunity, year in and year out, to compete for a national championship.

"It's lost a lot of support. Hopefully coach Sampson can get back some of that support. ... With the possible candidates out there, I don't know if we could have gotten anyone better qualified. I'm very happy with coach Sampson."

That's part of the problem: getting the top-shelf coaches interested in IU. You know the program has lost something when it offers hefty bank to the coach at Gonzaga and gets turned down.

The Boilermakers are working their way through the Comb-over Hangover, after excessive loyalty to coach Gene Keady led a declining program to rock bottom before the rebuilding could begin. Purdue has made just one of the past six NCAA Tournaments and is trying to relocate its old spunk.

The once-rabid rivalry between the two barely registers nationally and doesn't stir the same passions within the state.

"You don't have the dominant personalities that you did at Purdue and Indiana," said the coach who replaced Keady at Purdue, Matt Painter.

"Matt Painter will do well there, give him some time," Plump said. "They're so far down you have to give him some time."

Nobody else in the state is picking up the slack. Notre Dame barely made the Big East tournament this year and hasn't seen the NCAA Tournament since 2003. The normally reliable mid-major class of Butler, Valparaiso, Ball State, IUPUI, Evansville, Indiana State and D-I newcomer IPFW has combined for one bid the past three Marches.

From 1975 through 2003, the state put a minimum of two teams in the NCAAs every year but one. An Indiana team made the Final Four every year from 1978 through '81 -- and each year it was someone different: Notre Dame in '78, Indiana State in '79, Purdue in '80 and national champion Indiana in '81. Participation peaked in 2000 with six bids. Victories peaked in 1987 at nine, as IU won the national title.

Now look at Indiana's feeble contribution to March Madness: Over the past three seasons, teams from the state have earned two NCAA bids and won exactly one tournament game -- on a last-second shot at that, two weeks ago by Indiana's Robert Vaden against San Diego State. That's it since 2003. That's the worst three-year stretch in this state since 1966-68, a time when far fewer teams got in the tourney.

The Pros

The NBA's Indiana Pacers, for years one of the most consistent and stable franchises in a turbulent league, lost their all-time most popular player last year: Reggie Miller. Simultaneously, they've had their franchise sabotaged by the man talented enough to succeed Miller but misanthropic enough to undermine everything instead: Ron Artest.

Artest has poisoned the past two seasons for Indiana. In 2004-05, he touched off the infamous Malice in the Palace brawl in Detroit, resulting in a record 73-game suspension that torpedoed the Pacers' chances of seriously competing in the Eastern Conference. They plummeted from 61 wins the previous year to 44.

Then, after Indiana brought Artest back this year and Bird publicly stood behind one of the most unpopular players in the league, Artest repaid him by demanding a trade in early December. The Pacers deactivated him Dec. 12 and went 9-13 without Artest before finally unloading him to Sacramento for Peja Stojakovic Jan. 25. Indiana is currently 35-35 and in seventh place in the Eastern Conference standings.

"I ain't gonna sit here and blame it all on Ronnie, because other things happened, too," Bird said. "But in the pros, when you don't win, people are disappointed. I see it and I'm disappointed, too."

The State Tournament

The biggest disappointments in Indiana lie below the pro level. The college disappointments are significant, but none is bigger than the atrocity committed upon Hoosier Hysteria.

Understand that Indiana is home to 19 of the 20 largest high school gyms in America, topped by New Castle High, Alford's alma mater, at 9,325 seats. Understand that the Indiana State Library's Web site lists no fewer than 33 books on its shelves relating to high school basketball, including, "Somebody Stole the Pea Out of My Whistle: The Golden Age of Hoosier Basketball Referees." Understand that if there were such a thing as a state sound, in Indiana it would be a basketball slapping off a wood floor in an empty gym.

If you understand all that, if you grasp the folklore and the sport's place in society, you can understand what the state tournament used to be. For that, take a drive through the rolling hills of Southern Indiana.

On Indiana Highway 37 you'll see a sign outside Mitchell, pop. 5,000. It commemorates the 1940 state tournament runner-up, the Mitchell High Bluejackets.

Not the champions. The runners-up. From 66 years ago.

Now drive down the serpentine stretch of Indiana Highway 58 that leads you to Heltonville Elementary School, in the rolling hills of Southern Indiana. The limestone building was once Heltonville High, before it was swallowed by consolidation to create a larger countywide school, Bedford North Lawrence.

Go in the gym. There on one wall, near the exit, is a yellowed photo of the 1954 Heltonville basketball team -- the team that won the school's only sectional championship. Damon Bailey, Heltonville product, says the photo is still there.

The high school was closed 20 years later, but that team lives on in eternity in a town of about 500 souls. That's what this tournament once meant.

The 64 statewide sectionals were the foundation of the tourney: the first round, the local scrum that produced one champion to go to the four-team regionals. From there the regional champ went to the four-team semistate, and from there to the four-team state finals in Indianapolis -- where only one team was crowned king of the state.

In Lawrence County, the sectional was an eight-school brawl back in those days -- the little rural schools like Heltonville trying to knock off the "city" school of Bedford. School would be canceled and opening-round games would be played all day. It was the social event of the year.

And if a little school won a sectional, it was a ticket to local immortality. Just ask the guys from that '54 Heltonville team.

"For smaller schools, the state championships were the sectionals," Bailey said. "If you could come through the sectional and win it, you had that one great weekend of games to remember."

And there are road signs and faded pictures and old trophies all over this state, commemorating those victories.

That's the thing the Indiana High School Athletic Association missed when it dismantled Hoosier Hysteria and replaced it with its four-class, four-champion system, which sometimes sends teams long distances for smaller, sparsely attended sectionals and regionals.

Bird is one of the five most accomplished players in the history of the sport. He's done everything there is to do with a basketball: three NBA titles, three straight NBA MVP awards, an Olympic gold medal, first-ballot Hall of Fame status, ad infinitum. But ask him about the Indiana state tournament from his days at tiny Springs Valley High School, and his recall is as sharp as the epic '84 finals against the Lakers.

After winning its sectional, Valley was in against bigger Bedford in the regional and had a six-point lead with a minute and a half left -- and lost.

"My best friend missed three one-and-ones," Bird said. "I still get mad at him for that."

Larry Legend laughed.

"Everyone does."

The big thing that loss cost Bird was the chance to play a truly big school, Jeffersonville, in the regional final.

"That's what the state tournament was all about," he said. "You wanted to play against the best. We were a small school, but our goal was to get to the state finals. I'd rather play for one title."

Bailey makes a compelling case for a co-conspirator in the demise of Hoosier Hysteria: consolidation. The number of high schools in the state has dwindled from a high of near 800 to about 400, robbing small towns of their identities and rooting interests along the way.

"If you have seven varsity teams in a county, that's 70 to 80 varsity players," Bailey said. "If you consolidate to one school, that's 12 players. A lot of the consolidated kids' kids are now at the high school level, and their parents didn't grow up playing basketball like mine did. They didn't go to the gym every Friday night.

"That's what my dad did, and his dad did, and his dad's dad did. The student interest is not there as it once was."

Bailey, Bird and Painter all prefer the single-class tournament -- but they pale in intensity to Plump. The 69-year-old Indianapolis businessman who put Milan on the map led an impassioned fight for years against class basketball.

There would be no Milan miracle under the current format. Nothing to talk about for the next 50 years.

"Since they went to class basketball, Milan has been to the semistate twice, and nobody knows it," Plump said. "That gives you the idea that people don't care. The sectional winners in the old days will be remembered a long time after the four state champions are remembered.

"When you can play, you want to play against the big boys. You might get your brains beat out, but it won't be the last time that happens in life."

Basketball in this state is getting its brains beat out on every level these days. For the good of the game and the good of the people who love it more than anywhere else, that needs to change.

After all, in 49 states it's just basketball. But this is Indiana.

Pat Forde is a senior writer for ESPN.com. He can be reached at ESPN4D@aol.com.

http://sports.espn.go.com/ncb/feature/featureVideo?page=2379848

obnoxiousmodesty
04-01-2006, 02:16 AM
Decent read. I certainly am not in favor of class basketball.

For me personally, the past few years have been extremely difficult to swallow on all levels of the sport in this state.

rexnom
04-01-2006, 12:53 PM
Yeah, yeah, Eric Gordon Jr. out of North Central High School!

Sorry...had to get something positive from that article...

owl
04-01-2006, 01:34 PM
The foundation for all basketball levels was destroyed when the state
went to class basketball. That one of the most destructive things ever
done to this state. It has had repercussions far and wide and not just
limited to basketball. That was a truly unique thing to this state.

Pathetic decision.

Why not have 400 classes so every team can be a winner.
Hooorrraayyy we won a trophy.

owl

Bball
04-01-2006, 01:51 PM
Why not quit keeping score as well? That way no one's feelings are hurt. Plus, hand out championship trophies to start the season to every team. What a wonderful thing for everyone to be a champion. It'll mean so much. :rolleyes:

I still find it odd that something as truly popular and unique as Indiana's one class, winner take all, tournament that the IHSAA trashed it in one fell swoop. No creeping tiny moves.... no compromise situations to begin it... Just 'wham'. They killed the golden goose.

You would've thought some type of sectional realignment would've been the first step in fixing it if you buy the argument something was broken in the first place.

They sneaked the thing in under the guise of being a temporary test and it was obviously a failure on many levels. I thought class basketball was easily destined for the scrap heap of history and yet nearing the final hour the IHSAA made it known that it was likely to continue and become permanent. I think many voices that would've been shouting from the rooftops remained a bit passive because class basketball was such a failure, especially financially, and had no thoughts it would pass the test and then become permanent. And the IHSAA stayed quiet on the matter rather than fan the flames until the last minute.

As for HS basketball in Indiana... I no longer care... at all. My former HS I will sometimes check the score on but that is about it.

For those that think it is still relevant, take a look at the sports pages and besides your local team it's barely rates a mention. Sectionals, regionals, etc don't even get front page treatment.

I couldn't name all 4 state champions, let along the final 4 or 8 or 16 or however you call that when it's feeding 4 championships. I had no idea the championships had even been played until I read a post here.

All class basketball has done is cheapened every win in the tournament. The sectionals used to mean something.

-Bball

Kegboy
04-01-2006, 02:21 PM
On the flip side, the Fever are title contenders, Notre Dame has a very good program, Joseph is building a quality program at IU, and even with Curry leaving, I see Purdue winning another championship within the next 4 years, led by their wealth of in-state players.

:-p

Los Angeles
04-01-2006, 02:30 PM
I don't know because I don't live there, so I need to ask:

Do the kids of Indiana obsess with playing basketball anymore? Are the playgrounds full of kids waiting to try their hand? Are intramural leagues turning teams away? Are the little leagues full to the brim?

I always loved Indiana's basketball obsession on the amateur/local/youth levels, and those aren't mentioned here. My guess is that if those are healthy, then the state of basketball in the promised land will be fine in the long run.

If they aren't, then maybe there is something to worry about.

Remember, the states of Texas and Florida have had football droughts at the prep, college and pro levels, but that didn't mean that anyone worried about the states being less into the sport.

BlueNGold
04-01-2006, 02:42 PM
I don't know because I don't live there, so I need to ask:

Do the kids of Indiana obsess with playing basketball anymore? Are the playgrounds full of kids waiting to try their hand? Are intramural leagues turning teams away? Are the little leagues full to the brim?

I always loved Indiana's basketball obsession on the amateur/local/youth levels, and those aren't mentioned here. My guess is that if those are healthy, then the state of basketball in the promised land will be fine in the long run.

If they aren't, then maybe there is something to worry about.

Remember, the states of Texas and Florida have had football droughts at the prep, college and pro levels, but that didn't mean that anyone worried about the states being less into the sport.

The people of Indiana are still crazy about basketball. There is a rec. center near my house where you cannot even play a pickup game because the gym is busy with teams the entire time it is open. You go to parks on the week-end in and around the city and there are often pickup or organized games with teams waiting on the sideline to play. New college sized basketball gyms have been built in several high schools the last few years. The church down the road from me just made an addition: a large gymnasium with two full court basketball courts. They have their youth programs in the gym instead of building separate rooms. ...so one might say we still worship basketball in this state.

Los Angeles
04-01-2006, 03:06 PM
The people of Indiana are still crazy about basketball. There is a rec. center near my house where you cannot even play a pickup game because the gym is busy with teams the entire time it is open. You go to parks on the week-end in and around the city and there are often pickup or organized games with teams waiting on the sideline to play. New college sized basketball gyms have been built in several high schools the last few years. The church down the road from me just made an addition: a large gymnasium with two full court basketball courts. They have their youth programs in the gym instead of building separate rooms. ...so one might say we still worship basketball in this state.
And there you have it. Basketball aint going away, that's for sure.

By contrast, in LA, there's so much to do outdoors, and so many year-round activities to try that many top young athletes never touch any kind of ball, let alone a basketball. I saw a 12 or 13 year old kite-boarder the other day. He was already about 6' tall and cut.

Kite boarding. That's this sport:

http://costaricakiteboarding.com/pics/kiteboarding_jump.jpg

That's GOT to be fun. But I don't know what it would teach anyone about teamwork and discipline.

jcouts
04-01-2006, 04:00 PM
Sad to say, but unfortunately I think there are quite a few other factors other than schools, teams, coaches and class basketball that go into Indiana high school students exiting the state.

Indiana is a place that seems like a great place to live, until you spend extended amounts of time elsewhere.

hoopsforlife
04-01-2006, 06:26 PM
Kite boarding. That's this sport:

http://costaricakiteboarding.com/pics/kiteboarding_jump.jpg

That's GOT to be fun. But I don't know what it would teach anyone about teamwork and discipline.

You don't need that to get a contract with the Pacers anyway. :shrug:

Ara
04-01-2006, 09:17 PM
We have outdoor school gyms near Purdue that don't get used extremely often :/

pizza guy
04-02-2006, 12:49 AM
It's still big around here. We have a huge turn-out for our highschool games, every game - we're also a sports-crazy school. Our parks usually have someone playing, and the gym is well used. And, as the cliche goes, there's a hoop at every house.

As for kids leaving to go to out-of-state schools, it's a combination of things. The 'biggies' in the state, IU and PU have both been...eh...less than champions for some time now; and, the state doesn't have a lot to offer. We've got corn and basketball and that's it, so, kids go other places. Now, for me, since I'm going into sports journalism, Indiana is a wonderful place because of the basketball, so, I'm staying. Also, there just isn't a respect for the history of the game in the state. Sure, kids know that Larry Bird was from Indiana, but how many know that Oscar Robinson was as well? Sure, we've got the Pacers, but how many know that the Pistons started here first? I don't think that there is enough respect for the game itself. Basketball has been called a religion in this state, and a lot of kids don't see it that way; as something you devote yourself to for the love of it - too many see it as "this is how I get out of Indiana!"

The problem runs deeper than single-class or not. But, like you said, as long as the game isn't just a game here, it'll live, and thrive.

Los Angeles
04-02-2006, 11:58 AM
Good post, Pizza Guy.

I had a good conversation with several IU grads last night here in Chicago. We talked about how the flight from the heartland is nothing new. Academically, many of Indiana's best and brightest have been heading to the out-of-state schools for a long while. And even if they stay in state for college, they often leave for the bigger cities shortly after.

But remember, it's an opportunity thing as much as it is a culture thing. In graphic design, there just aren't very many jobs for me in Indiana and what jobs there are pay easily one-third what I would make in Chicago or NY or LA. Factor in the cost of living difference and I still end up WAY ahead.

When it comes to athletics, I think that for a long while, the winning traditions of the big schools kept many of the hometown heros in-state. Remove winning from the equasion, and why would someone choose Purdue over U-Conn or Duke or whoever?

For me, this presents a challenge, not a disability. It is up to the coaches to meet that challenge 100%. If they can't, then they don't deserve the job.

jcouts
04-02-2006, 01:20 PM
Regarding class basketball, I definitely think it promotes underachieving as far as the smaller schools go. When I was in high school, Avon wasn't half the size that it is now, but schools like Ben Davis, Pike and North Central were still on our schedule in all sports and you knew that if you wanted to get to the next level, you had to go through the powerhouses.

Seeing those names on your schedule I believe makes you put in more time at whatever sport you're in, because let's face it, if Avon was going to beat a Ben Davis basetball team with Damon Frierson, Courtney James, James Patterson, Ahmed Bellemy, Keith Patterson and others on it, you knew you were going to need to spend 3/4 of your waking hours in the summer watching the net rip to even have a prayer at competing. You knew you were going to be shooting over 6'4 guys who could run faster, jump higher (and not some scrub your own size). Contrast that with the mindset of a 2A team that knows they can win the state championship by simply beating say Tri-West or or another moderate sized school without 5 players who can easily dunk. If Forest Park knew they had to go through Greg Oden to win the state title, I imagine you would have seen a much different mindset and way of doing things within the organization. Those very changes, I believe, are what currently makes players coming out of Indiana different than they were in the past.

I think that all we need to do to scare some sense back into ourselves is look at the number of Indiana high school alumni right now in the NBA having successful careers (post 1985 graduation). Right now, the Indiana high school alumni players that come to my mind are Zach Randolph, Jared Jeffries, Sean May, Alan Henderson, Calbert Cheaney, Glenn Robinson, Lee Nailon, Bonzi Wells, Walter McCarty. Shawn Kemp and Rick Fox can also be added, even though they don't play anymore. Throw Scott Skiles in for good measure. Out of that entire list, we have 5 guys with documented attitude problems and issues with their work ethic coming up every day in the NBA it seems. We have 3 guys who are known all around as consummate professionals and have never had a bad thing said about them. We have JJ who probably has the best hope of all. And, while G. Rob. did finally get a championship last year, Rick Fox is essentially the only Indiana high school basketball player of this generation who has played a significant role in winning NBA championships...and some may even raise doubts about that, since Shaq and Kobe were on the squad. Nonetheless, he has never earned a reputation as a bad teammate, poor worker, etc.

Out of all of those players mentioned, how many of them came from smaller schools? How many of them were merely "Chicago spillover" in the NW Indiana urbanized area? Indiana is supposedly this incredible basketball state. Is that really all we have to show for it nowadays?

Out of all of the athletes who pick up a basketball in this state, to only have that many athletes going out and having successful NBA careers is a little sad. While I don't think class basketball is entirely to blame, I don't think it helps the situation at all.

Since86
04-03-2006, 03:32 PM
Regarding class basketball, I definitely think it promotes underachieving as far as the smaller schools go. When I was in high school, Avon wasn't half the size that it is now, but schools like Ben Davis, Pike and North Central were still on our schedule in all sports and you knew that if you wanted to get to the next level, you had to go through the powerhouses.

I see from your profile that it says you're from Boulder CO. I think you need to spend time in a small high school gym before you say it promotes underachieving.

I graduated from a small school, and played varsity from 01-04, and we worked VERY hard. We went to team camps, individual camps, open gyms, weight liftings, and condition practices both in the mornings and nights. That's just team wise, not to mention all the AAU tourneys I played in, nor the industrial leagues and 3-on-3 tournaments.

We CAN'T play schools like Ben Davis, Pike, or NC. They won't put us on they're schedule. We played New Castle, who just won the 3a title, Jay Co, who New Castle beat in state, and only play one other 1a school that we wouldn't have seen in conference or sectional play.

My alma-mater is trying to schedule Connersville and Muncie South, but it's up to whether or not they want to make it work.

Winning a two sectional swith all 1a schools means no less to me than if we had to play bigger schools. It is the setup that's in place, so we go with it.


I think it's funny to walk into Irving gym and take it too players that played at bigger schools, who think they're really good because they won a sectional at a big Indy school, or even won district from a school in Chicago. Small schools still produce VERY good players, but it's hard to get a team filled with the same athletic ability and talent. You could place the top players from 1a schools and place them on 4a and 3a teams, and they'd fit in.

I couldn't make it through reading that article, especially after reading the part about players leaving Indiana to go other places. I've already posted Jason Whitlocks article in the S&E forum about Davis's "attempt" to recruit Oden, and why he fell short. It's pretty disgusting to read Forde's article and have him try to paint the picture that kids leave because they don't like Indiana anymore. He should do his homework, like actually attending high school games, before he throws out his theory.

jcouts
04-03-2006, 06:34 PM
I see from your profile that it says you're from Boulder CO. I think you need to spend time in a small high school gym before you say it promotes underachieving.

I graduated from a small school, and played varsity from 01-04, and we worked VERY hard. We went to team camps, individual camps, open gyms, weight liftings, and condition practices both in the mornings and nights. That's just team wise, not to mention all the AAU tourneys I played in, nor the industrial leagues and 3-on-3 tournaments.

We CAN'T play schools like Ben Davis, Pike, or NC. They won't put us on they're schedule. We played New Castle, who just won the 3a title, Jay Co, who New Castle beat in state, and only play one other 1a school that we wouldn't have seen in conference or sectional play.

My alma-mater is trying to schedule Connersville and Muncie South, but it's up to whether or not they want to make it work.

Winning a two sectional swith all 1a schools means no less to me than if we had to play bigger schools. It is the setup that's in place, so we go with it.


I think it's funny to walk into Irving gym and take it too players that played at bigger schools, who think they're really good because they won a sectional at a big Indy school, or even won district from a school in Chicago. Small schools still produce VERY good players, but it's hard to get a team filled with the same athletic ability and talent. You could place the top players from 1a schools and place them on 4a and 3a teams, and they'd fit in.

I couldn't make it through reading that article, especially after reading the part about players leaving Indiana to go other places. I've already posted Jason Whitlocks article in the S&E forum about Davis's "attempt" to recruit Oden, and why he fell short. It's pretty disgusting to read Forde's article and have him try to paint the picture that kids leave because they don't like Indiana anymore. He should do his homework, like actually attending high school games, before he throws out his theory.

I spent 15 years of my life playing in small school gyms in Indiana. Loved that musty smell, squeaky hardwood, dim lighting. I grew up in the middle of the cornfields spending 6 hours a day shooting on my slanted driveway with the sun (or rain) in my eyes all afternoon.

I just moved out to Colorado in May of 2004.

I know plenty about small Indiana high school gyms.

But, you'll never convince me that the majority of players will work just as hard at their game, regardless as to whether they're playing against Michael Jordan or Scott Brooks.

ChicagoJ
04-03-2006, 11:31 PM
-snip-Go in the gym. There on one wall, near the exit, is a yellowed photo of the 1954 Heltonville basketball team -- the team that won the school's only sectional championship. Damon Bailey, Heltonville product, says the photo is still there.

The high school was closed 20 years later, but that team lives on in eternity in a town of about 500 souls. That's what this tournament once meant.

The 64 statewide sectionals were the foundation of the tourney: the first round, the local scrum that produced one champion to go to the four-team regionals. From there the regional champ went to the four-team semistate, and from there to the four-team state finals in Indianapolis -- where only one team was crowned king of the state.

In Lawrence County, the sectional was an eight-school brawl back in those days -- the little rural schools like Heltonville trying to knock off the "city" school of Bedford. School would be canceled and opening-round games would be played all day. It was the social event of the year.

And if a little school won a sectional, it was a ticket to local immortality. Just ask the guys from that '54 Heltonville team.

"For smaller schools, the state championships were the sectionals," Bailey said. "If you could come through the sectional and win it, you had that one great weekend of games to remember."

And there are road signs and faded pictures and old trophies all over this state, commemorating those victories.


Just got off the phone with Jay's_Dad@Section204. In between his complaining about how few likeable Pacers players the current team has, I got in a word edge-wise about this article, as I knew it would really hit home for him. He's on spring break this week so he hadn't seen it.

He insists that Oolitc won in '54, although Heltonville may have won in '53. He then rattled off all the Bedford sectional champs for a couple of decades (it actually was a 16-team sectional, not an 8-team sectional back then) including his Bedford teams in 61/ 62/ 63. FWIW, the 1963 net from the tourney is still attached to his "most outstanding athlete" trophy.

McClintic Sphere
04-04-2006, 08:53 AM
I find blaming deteriorating interest of high school basketball on the class system ridiculous. First off, even from the time I was in high school, the amount of entertainment options available to people has grown exponentially. Secondly, no matter how you slice and dice the tournament, it is still the same teams competing. If it is David and Goliath you want then you can schedule one of those matchups any night during the season and watch Waldron get pasted by 65 by the likes of Lawrence North. If you want the same sectional matchups that existed when the old one class system existed, then schedule a tournament within your county that includes those teams.
There is nothing preventing intraclass matchups from occurring anytime during the season. I find what is most detrimental to the current kids playing is the constant derogation by worshippers of the one class system about how inferior the current system is. I know this: the 3A state title game between Plymouth and Washington last year was about as good of game as you would ever hope to see and I feel sorry for anyone who would tune that out because it is class basketball.
The talent mentioned in the article with Oden, McRoberts, Gorden, etc. whom all played on the same AAU team at one time and dominated at the national level is indication that the state of basketball is still fine.

Hicks
04-04-2006, 09:09 AM
I love that my home town won the 3A Title this year, but I still would rather have a 1 champion system.

Imagine having 4 NBA champions each year. Not divisions, not conferences, NBA.

It would be enough for me, if they simply gave each class' title a different name than just "State Champs" and then had a 2-round "Final Four", if you will, of the class winners to determine the State Champions.

McClintic Sphere
04-04-2006, 09:20 AM
I love that my home town won the 3A Title this year, but I still would rather have a 1 champion system.

Imagine having 4 NBA champions each year. Not divisions, not conferences, NBA.

Comparing HS and NBA is apples and oranges. NBA has a draft slanted to benefit the worst teams and a salary structure to promote parity. HS basketball has none of that, which is why there are teams stocked with D1 talent like Pike and Larry North, and others which compete just as hard and play with great heart that aren't in the same ballpark talentwise. I want to see Lapels and Waldrons and Lafayette Central Catholics of the world exposed on a larger stage. I don't understand why people are fully supportive of competive structures in other sports such as wrestling or football, but deride it in basketball. Did the kid at 105lbs not earn his state title because he didn't defeat the heavyweight?

BillS
04-04-2006, 09:42 AM
There is nothing preventing intraclass matchups from occurring anytime during the season.

Huh?

The intensity during the regular season was NEVER the same as the intensity in the Sectionals, it didn't matter if you were playing Avon or Ben Davis.

Any idea that the sectionals are the same as any other regular season game is ridiculous.


I find what is most detrimental to the current kids playing is the constant derogation by worshippers of the one class system about how inferior the current system is.

Ahh, now that's convenient. "The reason it isn't working is because people keep <i>saying</i> it isn't working. If everyone would just say it was working, it would work."

McClintic Sphere
04-04-2006, 09:56 AM
Ahh, now that's convenient. "The reason it isn't working is because people keep saying it isn't working. If everyone would just say it was working, it would work."

I didn't state it wasn't working, only that I was tired of the constant *****ing by people who actually believe there would be some magical transformation if they returned to the old system.
I was at the Damon Bailey championship in the Dome. That was a complete anomoly attendence wise. For one, you had the presence of Bailey, who had been touted nationally since 8th grade, plus you had the first championship in the Dome. Attendance dropped precipitously in ensuing years and the IHSAA was embarrassed in holding it there by the cavernous empty sections. Attendence had been dropping for years before they instituted class ball.
Another thing people don't realize with the spectre of Milan hanging over the whole debate, is that Milan wasn't really a small school at the time. My dad attended Fishers High School and his graduating class was 10 people of both genders. People around here who know how large Fishers is now should appreciate the change. That was pretty much standard for the day. Milan was a moderately sized school relative to others in the days before consolidation, not small or tiny as some people believe.


The intensity during the regular season was NEVER the same as the intensity in the Sectionals, it didn't matter if you were playing Avon or Ben Davis.

They tried matching up the champions from each class for a number of years in tournament-sanctioned play, but it was not very competitive, nor drew much interest.

BillS
04-04-2006, 10:12 AM
They tried matching up the champions from each class for a number of years in tournament-sanctioned play, but it was not very competitive, nor drew much interest.

By the time you're down to one school in each class, there isn't any room for a lot of excitement. The smaller schools haven't really built up to being Cinderella.

A single tournament is not going to generate the interest of the sectional/regional system, and when those were split into classes where you play teams you haven't seen and have no real rivalry with, the interest drops from the beginning.

Stryder
04-04-2006, 10:12 AM
I love that my home town won the 3A Title this year, but I still would rather have a 1 champion system.

Imagine having 4 NBA champions each year. Not divisions, not conferences, NBA.

It would be enough for me, if they simply gave each class' title a different name than just "State Champs" and then had a 2-round "Final Four", if you will, of the class winners to determine the State Champions.


Flawed logic; therefore, invalid argument.

McClintic Sphere
04-04-2006, 10:23 AM
By the time you're down to one school in each class, there isn't any room for a lot of excitement. The smaller schools haven't really built up to being Cinderella.

A single tournament is not going to generate the interest of the sectional/regional system, and when those were split into classes where you play teams you haven't seen and have no real rivalry with, the interest drops from the beginning.


Believe me, I know of which you write. When I was at Westfield, we were in the Carmel Sectional with both Carmel and Noblesville dwarfing the other schools in student population and I have never seen a level of excitement as when we knocked off heavily favored Noblesville one year or when Sheridan, the smallest school in the county knocked off host Carmel to advance to the regional. I just think a lot has changed even since those days that have led to the Marion County superpowers, which are on a completely different level with most of the state.

BillS
04-04-2006, 10:28 AM
I just think a lot has changed even since those days that have led to the Marion County superpowers, which are on a completely different level with most of the state.

So sectional those superpowers against each other, which makes some sense since they are all in or around Marion County. Maybe figure out how to do something of the same thing with some of the other megaschools areound the state. Once they hit Regionals, it is free-for-all.

Yeah, it'll never happen because the apocryphal everyone "wants" to see those teams in the finals. I cry BS, in that it would keep the interest across the state in other sectionals rather than holding off until the Big School Finals.

McClintic Sphere
04-04-2006, 10:36 AM
They already do sectionalize the Indy metro area. The Hinkle regional funnels Pike, No.Central, Carmel, Ben Davis, Warren etc. The Pike-LN game was the de facto state championship. Does anyone really believe we would have had a different state champ any of the last 3 years if we scrambled it different?

ChicagoJ
04-04-2006, 10:46 AM
I'll say this, I'm not a fan of class sports in HS, period.

But my wife's alma mater (Richmond) at one time was bigger than every other school in its REGIONAL (not sectional) - combined.

I'd hate to go to a small school in that shadow - you could have a great team but still no chance of competing against that.

I'd also hate for my child to go to a mega-school like Center Grove or Ben Davis; schools that have the same number of opportunities (12 spots on the varsity basketball roster) but 3x the number of students of a 3A school and 10x the number of students in a Class A school.

There are probably five students at Ben Davis that didn't even make the varsity roster that could form a very competitive basketball team. But they won't even get an opportunity to try or to learn the life lessons that come from playing a competitive team sport (which IMO is much more valuable than the stuff learned in a classroom, anyway.)

The biggest problem isn't Class basketball itself, its that consolidation has created some bohemiths while left other communities behind. And yet consolidation has not necessarily improved the education process and has not necessarily made education less costly. But that's way OT for a basketball thread.

McClintic Sphere
04-04-2006, 10:51 AM
Right on, Jay. Once again, it takes a numbers man to better focus the debate. Consolidation is a community problem which supercedes the class basketball issue.

Kegboy
04-04-2006, 01:05 PM
The biggest problem isn't Class basketball itself, its that consolidation has created some bohemiths while left other communities behind. And yet consolidation has not necessarily improved the education process and has not necessarily made education less costly. But that's way OT for a basketball thread.

Carmel just keeps building and building onto their one humongous high school. Fishers is splitting into two schools next year, Noblesville is planning a second school, hell, Westfield will probably have a second school before Carmel does. And the only reason is they don't want to break up their sports teams. :rollout:

Since86
04-04-2006, 01:19 PM
I also like how Forde uses this years state finalist fan numbers compared to the record attendence, not to mention the venue has changed.

RCA Dome holds more than Conseco, so even if it sold out the numbers would still be dwarfed.

jcouts
04-04-2006, 02:33 PM
I really think that the NCAA tournament this season would have been quite boring if George Mason hadn't pulled a Cinderella Run in the big dance. Outside of their run, what else is anyone talking about from the tournament other than who won?

People will remember Bryce Drew's shot for years. Bobby Plump's shot for decades.

The class system is just bad for the game, and the game's legacy beyond all else.

Hicks
04-04-2006, 06:02 PM
I really think that the NCAA tournament this season would have been quite boring if George Mason hadn't pulled a Cinderella Run in the big dance. Outside of their run, what else is anyone talking about from the tournament other than who won?

People will remember Bryce Drew's shot for years. Bobby Plump's shot for decades.

The class system is just bad for the game, and the game's legacy beyond all else.

Thank you. I should have used the NCAA rather than the NBA as a better example of what I'm trying to say. The Cinderella stories (or just the possibility of them is) are what makes the tourney so great.

McClintic Sphere
04-05-2006, 07:41 AM
The college and high school analogy is still woefully flawed. Each school in the NCAA has the same amount of scholarships to offer and is recruiting from the same pool of talent, regardless of the school's size, nothing at all like high school, which is either limited or enhanced by the size of it's talent pool. George Mason, while a terrific story, does have advantages over schools like defending champion North Carolina, which it defeated, because schools like NC have a high percentage of underclassmen go pro early, while George Mason doesn't.
I'm taking it as a given, you haven't seen the high school tournament lately jcouts or you would realize that the same players, coaches, fans and referrees would still be there no matter what kind of underdog matchup you need in order to have an interest in the game. If the only thing you took from the latest tournament was Geo.Mason's upsets and missed BC-Villanova, UCLA-Gonzaga, or LSU-Duke because they were not "underdog" contests, then I think you are a very narrow-minded fan.

Hicks
04-05-2006, 08:27 AM
Thanks for the insult! :usa:

McClintic Sphere
04-05-2006, 08:32 AM
Insult? Where? I missed it.