Is there anything that says "Hoosier" more than a big old barn of a structure dedicated to playing and watching basketball? From the farm buildings at the wooded fringes of our rural properties to the high school gyms where we crowd together on cold Friday nights to the gleaming Conseco Fieldhouse in the heart of our capital, Indiana residents know a thing or two about throwing down hoops in cavernous venues. Perhaps no other building personifies our basketball roots as well as does Butler University's fabled Hinkle Fieldhouse, and I think that the recently announced renovation project could be a boon for hoops in Indiana. As a longtime fan of Indiana University basketball, there have been few aspects of any other school's program that I envy, but Hinkle is definitely one of them, and its facelift should bring a new round of national attention for Butler and the state.
Hinkle was built in 1928 and has been the site of countless unforgettable college basketball contests, as well as playing host to the high school basketball championships for many years. Beyond actual games, Hinkle was featured in the quintessential David and Goliath sports movie, "Hoosiers." The old arena perfectly captured all of the flavor of Indiana's rabid support for all kinds of hoops action, and most viewers probably thought they were witnessing either a genuine high school venue or a Hollywood rendering.
Even with its storied history, though, Hinkle has become something of a hot spot for discussion in recent years, especially as head coach Brad Stevens has risen to national prominence. Each spring after the NCAA tournament concludes, the rumor mill gears up and spits out Stevens's name as a likely candidate for whichever big-school coaching vacancies crop up. Butler has done a great job of appeasing their young mastermind, and it's no coincidence that Hinkle is now getting an upgrade. You can bet that part of the enticements dangled before Stevens have been these forthcoming changes.
There will undoubtedly be hand-wringing in some quarters about modernizing Hinkle, with the fear being that some of its inimitable history will be lost. The Fieldhouse is such a local icon, though, that there is tremendous pressure on Butler to preserve the essence of the place, and there is enough attention and scrutiny from fans like me that I'm confident the old favorite will come out better on the other side of the process.
Adam Hughes was raised, and still lives, in rural Indiana. He has been a fan of the Indiana University Hoosiers basketball program since the early 1980s and even holds a Ph. D. from IU (computational chemistry). He still has nightmares involving Bobby Knight and projectile chairs.