Late to Indiana basketball? A review of Hoosiers

Prologue by Kevin Baker:

‘And David put his hand in the bag and took out a stone and slung it. And it struck the Philistine on the head and he fell to the ground.’

Let’s win this game for all the small schools that never had a chance to get here.

There are only a handful of movie scenes that get me every time. The father and son catch at the end of Field of Dreams. At the end of Saving Private Ryan when the main character asks his wife if he’s led a good life. And near the end of Hoosiers, when the preacher says that one fateful line before the little school of Hickory, Indiana with a student enrollment of 64 takes the court against the Goliath South Bend High School in Indianapolis.

Growing up in Kansas, I know what basketball means to ordinary people. It’s as if basketball is a part of their religion and their very existence. It is crazy to think that we sit and cry after KU loses against Syracuse in the national championship or feel depressed when we bow out of the tournament early. It doesn’t make any sense. These feelings are conveyed perfectly in what I regard as the best sports movie of all time.

Perhaps the movie is not as “great” as Rocky and Raging Bull, but Hoosiers really shows why we love sports so much and what they mean to everyone. From drunk Dennis Hopper calling the picket fence, to giving the coach (played expertly by Gene Hackman) who hit a player a second chance, and the young phenom Jimmy using basketball as his escape, Hoosiers represents the epitome of amateur athletics. The little guy with no one coming off the bench can defeat the big schools, much like an NIU can upset a team full of NBA prospects or little Butler University with zero McDonald’s All Americans can make two NCAA finals in a row.

Seeing that she is a big Kansas basketball fan, I’d give Laura the biggest 10 imaginable. There are no excuses for not having seen this movie yet. None!

LTTM Review:

I’m about to get super sappy here for a little while, so hold on to your butts.

As Kevin mentions, I’m a very big sports fan. Chiefs, Royals, Blackhawks, Celtics/Thunder and Alabama/Auburn/KU (don’t ask) football. But if I could follow just one sports team for the rest of my life, it’d be Kansas basketball. My Birmingham born-and-bred father never followed the team until he went to KU for his Masters degree, and after that he became a die-hard Jayhawks fan. My dad worked a lot when I grew up (as most dads do), but he always took the time to take me to sporting events for father/daughter bonding time. As expected, my favorite times we spent together were when he took me to a yearly game at Allen Fieldhouse. We always sat in the rafters, so high that I could barely make out the names on the backs of the jerseys. Kansas always won. There was not a better feeling than leaving the games with a new Kansas basketball program or t-shirt in hand, a sore throat from screaming so loudly, and excitement from watching the best team in college basketball play (hate you Kentucky, Duke and North Carolina).

For real, I love Kansas basketball so much that I just bet $50 worth of cheese that KU would win the Big 12 conference over Mizzou. I’m insane.

That one guy is hot.

This movie was absolutely made for me. I love basketball. I love David versus Goliath stories, particularly when it pertains to the plot of a sports movie. I love anything that shows how and why people are so passionate about something. Isn’t it telling that Dennis Hopper’s character is a serious alcoholic but becomes a savant of sorts when it comes to discussing high school basketball?

[Cheese alert] But beyond being about basketball, Hoosiers is mostly about giving people second chances and the opportunity to excel when everyone else expects for you to fail. This is the type of movie like Field or Dreams or Remember the Titans that many people, not just sports lovers, can relate to in some way. Hoosiers is definitely a feel-good kind of movie, but not in a sickening sort of way (like, say, The Blindside which made me feel like I was being lectured to at times). My mom would even like this. That’s saying something.

Face palm moment: Everyone hates me already so I might as well say it– I honestly thought Hoosiers was about Indiana University. *ducks* Also, my second Gene Hackman movie? First was the Royal Tenenbaums.

Favorite part: I’m a big Dennis Hopper fan (Blue Velvet and Speed are two of my favorite movies) and it was great to see him in this role. Who doesn’t love a basketball-obsessed drunk? My favorite scene was definitely where Gene Hackman asks the ref to throw him out of the game so Dennis Hopper’s character is forced to call plays for the team. Second favorite scene is when everyone’s favorite little shorty Ollie makes both of his free throws.

The “I missed that in pop culture trivia” moment: Kevin touched on it already, but that pre-championship game speech is sort of legendary.

Regrettable tardiness scale (out of 10): Mark it down– watching every October in preparation of college basketball season.


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