Butler University on Championship Game DayPosted by jstevrtc on April 5th, 2010
We had a chance to tool around the Butler campus today and check out the spirit of the place a few hours before the national championship game. We think we saw, oh, maybe two people who weren’t sporting their Butler gear, and it looked like they were lost. In addition to the throngs of students (if a school of a little over 4,000 students can have “throngs”) riding that wave of anticipation until game time, there was an impressive number of hoop lovers walking over to an open Hinkle Fieldhouse to have a look. We think, on this occasion, it was less because Hoosiers was filmed there and more because people wanted to get a closer look at a great old arena and find out more about this Butler place…
The school had provided school buses — yes, the big yellow guys with no seat belts — as transportation for students. We assume this was so they wouldn’t have to pay for parking, right? The girls in the photo below estimated that out of the near 4,000 students enrolled at Butler, around 3,000 were projected to be at the game tonight. Lines had formed for the buses long before we got there, and five full ones left en masse while we were talking to fans. Twenty more were expected.
We want to avoid the “David vs Goliath” aspect of this game that so many people are talking/writing about because we don’t really buy into it, and we try to avoid the moral ascendancy that people are assigning to Butler in this game merely because they’re the so-called mid-major in this battle, but to walk into Hinkle Fieldhouse is to immediately go back to childhood. Airplane references aside, this place SMELLS like a gymnasium. Just a couple of steps inside and it hits you — that combination of sweat and musty old concrete, combined with bleachers and polished hardwood…it’s fantastic.
Our overall impressions were that, while the students and fans with whom we spoke knew that they were on the cusp of something extraordinary, most of them didn’t quite know what to do. While they respect the Butler basketball history, they seemed a little confounded by all the attention, at the same time both wary of it and enjoying it. It was as if they thought that enjoying it too much right now might somehow cosmically reduce their chances of enjoying a bigger celebration later tonight. Whatever happens in a few hours, we’re sure this isn’t something that will be forgotten about any time soon. And we’re sure of our gratitude toward the people we approached for pictures and interviews and the administrators we met inside of Hinkle. They couldn’t have been friendlier.
We’ll have more thoughts on the trip to Indy later on, but we’ve got our live chat during the game tonight and a final After The Buzzer coming as well. Enjoy the game, hoop fans.