H is for.....Hoosiers.
The topic for today's post came to me last Saturday. The Butler Bulldogs had just beaten VCU to advance to the national championship. Butler's improbable run to the finals made me think of the movie Hoosiers.
Butler is a small school in Indiana, and many of the kids on the team are small-town Indiana kids. To basketball fans, small-town Indiana basketball players are known as Hoosiers. Another connection between Butler and the movie is Hinkle Fieldhouse. Butler plays their home games in Hinkle, which was also the setting for the epic final game in Hoosiers.
Hoosiers is one of my favorite movies. It's about basketball, but like any great sports movie, it's about much more than that. Gene Hackman is great as Norman Dale, the coach with a checkered past. Dennis Hopper is brilliant as Shooter, the town's basketball-loving drunk.
One of my favorite scenes in Hoosiers, or any movie for that matter, is when Coach Dale gets himself thrown out of a game and Shooter has to take over. The team huddles up and Shooter is frozen. Just when it looks like Shooter might wilt under the pressure, his son suggests they run the picket fence. I love the look on Hopper's face as Shooter slowly gains the confidence to diagram the play. It's a powerful scene, one that has stuck with me through the years.
Perhaps the most memorable character in Hoosiers is Jimmy Chitwood, the tortured soul who could shoot the lights out. Jimmy barely speaks in the movie, and he rarely misses a shot on film-I can think of only one shot he missed. In my day, calling a guy Jimmy Chitwood on the basketball court was high praise for one's ability to shoot the rock.
So last Saturday, after Butler won, I found myself whistling the score from Hoosiers and I knew what my H post was going to be. Butler didn't go on to win the national championship, falling one game short for a second season in a row. As a life-long basketball fan, watching those small-town Indiana kids was inspiring.
I'll end with a clip, the last couple minutes of Hoosiers. This ending makes me verklempt every time. What are your favorite sports movies?