What could I possibly say on the eve of BU playing in their first National Championship? When people in California asked why I root for Butler, I would sometimes get confused considering which answer I should go with. That's where I graduated and met most of my closest friends? That's where my mom taught for 27 years and I grew up? (She started teaching there before I was even born!) That's where my sister went to school and joined my sorority? That's where our high school friend, Brad Stevens, is now head coach? (And this success could not come to a nicer, more humble person.) That's where I've sent some of my favorite voice students and where another good friend is now on the music faculty? The place has played such a big role in my life and I appreciate it more and more each year. This team represents all of us here in Indiana so well. They embody why I love living here and why I am so proud to be a Bulldog!
Then, there's the fact that all of this is happening IN Indy!!! How could I not change my flight to Switzerland? (I originally was going to fly out last Thursday and miss all of this!) I'm so glad I stayed.
Last Wednesday the town kicked off Final Four weekend here in Indy (and you should SEE the party that has been going on downtown - Indy knows how to do it right) with a pep rally on Monument Circle. Thousands turned out to show their Butler pride! Speakers included the mayor, athletic director Barry Collier, BU president Bobby Fong, and Indiana legend Bobby Plump. (Last second shot for Milan High, a.k.a. Hoosiers, anyone?)
Friday we attended the free open practice and watched Butler shoot around for an hour. 30,000 turned out to welcome the Dawgs to Lucas Oil. That's basketball in Indiana!
Miriam, Bob and I registered with a local organization to get seats right down by the court! It was fun to see all the media personalities walking around, as well as the players and bands coming out for their practice sessions.
Miriam sneaking up on the CBS set.
Things definitely cleared out after Butler's hour long practice was over.
All this leading up to game day!!! I can't even describe how exciting this game was. This felt even bigger than the AFC championship I went to just months ago. Where else could we go to watch it but the Bulldogs' home court, historic Hinkle Fieldhouse, just 5 miles away from where they were playing downtown in Lucas Oil Stadium? Hinkle is proof that some things are more important than anything shiny, new and impressive. We've got history and tradition.
We staked out our spots towards the front as we waited for the doors to open.
The line grew and grew
Immediately the halls were packed as everyone rushed in to grab a seat.
In our seats and the game is starting!
Great atmosphere and BU provided a very smart setup. There were two of these sides, each with two giant screens.
Frightening seconds at the end of the game! Nored gets ready to attempt his two clutch free throws.
And we win!!! BU's going to the championship!
Everyone streamed out of Hinkle cheering, honking, and students running to the center of campus to celebrate.
Broad Ripple and downtown were crazy with Butler fans and out of town fans, as well. We were out celebrating until 4:00 a.m., and downtown was still packed even then.
Jen, Ellen and Norm came to celebrate with us.
And now on to the big game tomorrow. I'll be in a seat at Lucas Oil this time, cheering them on in person. (Thanks, Bob, for the ticket!!!) More to come, I'm sure.....