Since 1984 author and journalist Stan Sutton has been covering Indiana University men’s basketball. So when he was approached to do a book about the Hoosiers, one could say he was the perfect person to pen 100 Things Hoosiers Fans Should Know and Do Before They Die.
This book is a guide to all things Hoosiers, telling the story of IU basketball across several decades and covering anything and everything a fan should know. Sutton took years of Hoosier memories and narrowed them down to the best and most compelling personalities, events and facts true Hoosier fans should know.
Over the years, Indiana has established five NCAA championships, 20 Big Ten conference championships, and die-hard fans that bleed crimson and cream.
The Recorder spoke with Sutton about his long history with IU basketball, his book and his thought’s on this year’s team.
You’ve been covering IU basketball since the early ‘80s. What makes them unique?
Sutton: They’ve got a really rich tradition and I think some of this dates back to the early ‘50s when Channel 4 was really the first station to broadcast games. That’s when they were really good – they won the NCAA championship in 1953. I think a lot of people developed a love for IU basketball at that time. It built over the years.
When former IU men’s basketball coach, Bob Knight was fired, how did you feel the team would fare without him?
I think it’s in good hands now. Coach Crean is an excellent coach and he’s got the program going. Everyone’s enthusiastic about it. Assembly Hall is about as loud as I ever heard it be.
Indiana had a problem when they decided to get rid of Knight and that could be right or wrong depending on how you look at it, but they did it at the wrong time. It was early September when you had no choice but to get a new coach so they had an adjustment period that was difficult despite going to the Final Four in 2002. Then they hired the wrong coach when they hired Kelvin Sampson and that created more turmoil. They’ve had to battle back from some adversarial things. Coach Crean has done a good job in a short time.
Describe the IU fan?
Very passionate. Alabama football and Kentucky and Louisville basketball fans are similar. IU has widespread fans that live and die for this team. That’s why this book has been so popular thus far, because there have been fans dedicated to the team and want to know more about it.
Why did you write 100 Things Hoosiers Fans Should Know and Do Before They Die?
I had a fellow call me about the book. They’ve been putting out similar books for other schools. He knew my background with IU basketball.
With your history with IU basketball, how did you narrow it down to just 100 things?
I found a lot of things in different categories. I picked certain games, players and seasons. I also picked out some things that were a bit different like how the school song originated. We had a chapter on Mark Cuban, who’s an IU grad who’s gone on to great things. There’s a chapter on John Mellencamp’s connections with IU. There are restaurants in town that you might want to visit. There’s one chapter about the relationship between Bob Knight and Russ Brown, who’s a Louisville reporter. They didn’t get along and it went on for 20 years. Things like that.
What fact intrigued you the most?
I think when they went unbeaten in 1976 – that was special. I will say the biggest news story was Bob Knight. I was at the Herald Times in Bloomington and you’re never going to have a story more complicated than that one was. Obviously that was the biggest story that’s probably ever hit Bloomington.
If you could sum up this book in one word, what would it be?
Entertaining. It’s not a book to be taken totally seriously, but it reminds people of things they may have forgotten or may never have known.
What are your hopes for the future of IU and the basketball team?
They’re back on track and I think there will be a lot of memorable things to come. Maybe this year for all they know. They’re as good as anybody in the country even though they slipped up a couple times. They certainly have a chance of going to the Final Four and winning it all.
You can find 100 Things Hoosiers Fans Should Know and Do Before They Die at Amazon.com and Barnes and Noble book stores.