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March 24, 2010 10:00 AM

White Players in the Tournament Can Only Mean One Thing...

Hoosiers pic.jpg"Hoosiers" references!! Every year around this time journalists turn to their cliché manual and flip to the "NCAA Championship" section. In between the section on "Cinderellas" and "Power Conferences Are Overrated" is the section on "Hoosiers." One of the greatest sports movies of all-time is a quick and easy fallback in the tournament every year.

It's especially easy in regards to Butler. Butler plays their home games in Hinkle Fieldhouse - the same place the final game in "Hoosiers" was shot. But it doesn't mean you should be making any sort of comparison between the two. Mark Emmons of the San Jose Mercury News wrote an article about how the two are very different.

How can a team that's ranked 11th in the country, has won a nation-best 21 consecutive games and now is gunning for its third Sweet 16 appearance in eight seasons still be considered an underdog?

Unfortunately, someone at the paper titled the column "Butler Brings 'Hoosiers' to Life." Did they READ what he wrote? Still though, with 10 of its players and coach from Indiana and the Final Four being in Indianapolis, I get that this comparison is just too difficult to pass up.

But what about the rest of the teams? Jeff Washburn of the Journal & Courier writes, "When and if there is a remake of the movie "Hoosiers," Chris Kramer gladly will play the Jimmy Chitwood role, and Matt Painter would be the perfect choice to portray Hickory coach Norman Dale."

Barry Byers of The Herald wants either St. Mary's or Northern Iowa to win and gives them the advice, "If it comes down to a game-winning shot, run the picket fence. It worked for Dale's Hickory High."

Speaking of Northern Iowa, following their win over the UNLV Rebels, Ed Graney of the Las Vegas Journal-Review wrote, "His name is Ali Farokhmanesh, not Ollie from "Hoosiers." That will be an easy comparison for some to draw, that the Rebels lost a Midwest Region game to a group of hard-nosed, overachieving, scarred-from-floor-burns team."

And clearly Cornell has to be mentioned as well. From Mark Blaudschun of the Boston Globe: "Call the story a combination of "Animal House'' and "Hoosiers.'' But instead of Delta House, there's the Dog Pound, and instead of a tiny high school from rural Indiana winning a state basketball title against a powerful city school, we have the boys from Cornell."

Comparing these teams to "Hoosiers" is not only lazy but it's disrespectful to these teams. Yes, they have worked hard but so have all the teams that have been eliminated. This isn't a case of all the stars lining up for some perfect story. These teams aren't that much less talented (if at all) than the top programs. Give these teams some respect. Cornell has won four straight Ivy League titles, Purdue was a top five program for nearly the entire year, and Northern Iowa has won 30 games this year and has made the tournament four of the past seven years.

And then there is the issue of race. Would anyone be making comparisons to "Hoosiers" if predominantly black Murray State was in the Sweet 16? Or would they have to be compared to "Glory Road?"

Can we just bury this comparison and start talking about these teams in a smart manner and not in a somewhat condescending way that demeans their accomplishments?

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