There is something special to me about Virginia Tech’s opening game in the NCAA Tournament against Florida taking place in Hinkle Fieldhouse on the campus of Butler University.
Part of it is the tradition of the building, but part of it is the fact I’m just a sucker for old sports movies. I drive my wife crazy when I seem to be watching the same movie for the 47th time, but that’s just how I am.
My favorite, is Hoosiers. And parts of it remind me of this Hokie team.
Hoosiers was filmed in Hinkle Fieldhouse, and the movie is loosely based on the Milan High School basketball team that won the 1954 Indiana state basketball championship in that very same building. A player named Bobby Plump hit the game-winner, became a mythical figure in Indiana basketball, and was created as character Jimmy Chitwood in the movie.
Hokie Coach Mike Young even mentioned the specialness of Hinkle Fieldhouse this morning, as the team arrived in Indianapolis yesterday, noting "I've been a lot of places, but never been to Butler's campus or been to Hinkle Fieldhouse. As a basketball person and the history of that building, I look forward to that."
This, of course, has evoked comparisons in my mind between Virginia Tech and the Hickory Huskers underdog team that took the basketball world by storm in Indiana in the movie. Young even looks a little like coach Norman Dale (played by Gene Hackman) and has a similar style of coaching fundamentals.
I could just imagine the Hokies getting off a red church revival bus, the team walking into Hinkle, and Young asking John Ojiako to put Wabissa Bede on his shoulders, tossing a tape measure to Bede, and asking him to measure how high the rims are, as was done in the movie the first time Hickory entered the Fieldhouse.