In lieu of a lackluster Hoosier Morning, I thought I’d borrow from the pick-up lexicon and say, “I’ve got next.”
Ryan has officially departed for Milwaukee, as last night’s torrent of Brewers’ tweets confirmed (As a Reds’ fan, I admit I had to unfollow).
That leaves me sitting in the basketball columnist chair previously occupied by Mr. Kartje and Mr. Kellenberger and Mr. Korman and Mr. Wilson and Mr. Sutton — all of which have gone from the H-T during my 12 years working here. So, the new guy is sort of an old guy.
But I am ready to embrace a new challenge, which is exactly what this is. And it’s a heck of a time to take it on, with IU seemingly on the verge of reclaiming its annual place among the college basketball elite.
Beyond the short-term, that’s what will be really interesting — can Indiana put itself in a position where, like a Kansas, Kentucky, Duke or North Carolina, Final Four appearances become the regular expectation. And I don’t mean just the rabid IU fans’ expectations, but those of college basketball fans and pundits nationwide.
More immediately, it’s a question of living up to expectations that have increased 10-fold since last year at this time. There’s also some question whether such expectations — 2012-13 preseason No. 1 nationally — are truly realistic, but I’ll save that for another time.
I grew up in High Point, N.C., a fan of one of those teams with high expectations year in and year out — the North Carolina Tar Heels. The 1981-82 NCAA Championship season was the year I truly remember becoming hooked (Been rooting against Georgetown ever since, too). My second-grade class wrote Dean Smith and the team congratulatory letters after winning the title, and we each received two collectable trading cards of team members in return (Mine were Chris Brust and Jimmy Black, I’m guessing the Michael Jordan and James Worthy cards would be worth a lot more now).
Basketball’s been a part of my life ever since, from crazy hook shots on the elementary school playground to a school-record eight 3s in a high school game to playing and refereeing intramurals in college to covering and taking calls on more games than I can count at the H-T.
While my job now is to share my basketball thoughts and opinions, the Scoop is as much your site as it is mine. I plan to pick up where my predecessors left off for the most part, making some tweaks of my own along the way. But if there’s something you’d like to see more of, less of, etc., I’m open to suggestions.
Then we’ll see what happens next.