Nostalgia Not Quite Enough

For one year I lived in Indiana — Evansville — and experienced that state’s famed high school hoops first hand. It was that rabid — and that good.

I’ve also seen the movie “Hoosiers” — often. Then ESPN Classic recently showed a replay of that David-and-Goliath, 1954 championship game between tiny Milan High School and Muncie Central, a perennial big school power, which was the “Hoosiers” inspiration. Milan wins at the buzzer.

The replay — with original play-by-play — held up reasonably well, with allowances for skill levels and real shorts. It was a nostalgic rush with one significant exception. We’re reminded that there was no 35-second shot clock then. Dramatic upsets could be the product of tedious stalling tactics.

In those days, smaller, less-talented teams, such as Milan, could hold the ball for long periods of time without even attempting a shot. The shorter the game, the better the underdog’s chances. That was a key part of Milan’s successful, championship game strategy, one that wasn’t so evident in “Hoosiers.” Even when it was behind in the fourth quarter, Milan held the ball and ran off four minutes without so much as a look at the basket.

It made for drama and an upset of near mythical proportion. But it can still be boring to sit through.

“Hoosiers” was better.

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