With this being Indiana, the grandest time of year has begun for many Hoosiers, me included.
Basketball season has arrived and though I'm a Colts fan through and through, there's nothing better than Midnight Madness and the start of high school basketball practice.
The first regular season girls high school games begin on Wednesday with the Clabber Girl Classic at West Vigo High School. The tournament includes the Northview girls who are under new leadership with coach Chad Smith.
While I'm going to certainly miss some great conversations with former coach Bob Medworth, I'd be willing to bet he's going to enjoy some well deserved free time before Winter Guard begins.
Smith is joined by Jon Crooks, as well as, LuAnn Anderson on the staff this season and the troops have been working diligently in practice under their watchful eyes. Tomorrow's lid lifter on the 2007-08 season provides a pretty interesting story line as Smith faces his former team, the Sullivan Golden Arrows in the tourney opener. While at Sullivan, Smith was 50-38, including a high mark of 19-5 during the 2004-05 season.
The Clabber Girl should provide some great hoops with a first round matchup between Vigo County rivals Terre Haute South and Terre Haute North. The Braves are stocked and ready to rock as their preseason No. 3 ranking in Class 4A attests to. South returns four players who averaged more than 12 points per game last year and boasts a Junior All-Star in Megan Craft as well as the looming presence of 6'2 Dragana Grbic.
Owen Valley is coming off an outstanding 24-2 mark, but must replace high-scoring Sam Stahl after her graduation in the spring. The Patriots get a first round matchup with improving West Vigo.
Also of benefit to Northview is that Smith and his coaching staff will get a chance to see all of their future Western Indiana Conference opponents, save Brown County. Sullivan, South Vermillion, West Vigo and Owen Valley are all participating in the Clabber Girl Tourney.
At Clay City, coach Keith Jones prepares for his third season with the Eels and doesn't exactly get an easy task in the opener.
Class A's fourth-ranked Eminence Eels come to call on Friday night for a 6:30 p.m. start for a prime time beginning to the year.
Boys' high school practice also began this week with tryouts currently going on for Northview and Clay City's hoops teams. Look for our annual preview of the county's basketball teams to appear in the Nov. 17 edition of the Brazil Times as I discuss this years prospects with each of our county's coaches.
As a Hoosier fan, it was a breath of fresh air to actually see IU take the floor on Sunday so we can stop talking about the program's phone bills.
And after long hearing all the Eric Gordon talk, Sunday's exhibition game proved that there are some other pretty good freshmen on that team as well. While the game was indeed an exhibition contest against a Division II team, but a shooter is a shooter and Jordan Crawford showed he can knock down the long range shot, hitting all six of his shots from long range while going for 30 points. And if you can find anyone whose willing to take a charge from DeAndre Thomas, the Hoosiers' 6'9, 290 lb. (that's being generous) forward, than give the man a medal of valor.
The team has a lot more depth than they've had in years past and the apparent athletic ability of this crop of freshmen should make for some exciting hoops in Hoosiertown this year.
And, oh by the way, the Pacers have quietly started their season and I imagine that new coach Jim O'Brien is happy to break the basketballs out of the cupboard and hopefully keep his players out of trouble.
Though the team is 3-0 on the young season, it might be a good idea for O'Brien to pass out team photos to the door men at each of Indy's strip clubs to keep the Pacers out of late night trouble.
Danny Granger appears to be a rising talent with the team whether Jermaine O'Neal decides he really wants to stay or not. I imagine that as long as we stay on the positive side of .500, that O'Neal's contentment will keep him out of the media in a â€˜Kobe' sort of situation.
But for now, I'm just going to bask in the beginning of hoops season. And for anyone who wants to see the game at a very fun level, head to North Clay or Clay City Junior High to support your young hoopsters. These kids have a great time playing the game and have a lot of talent to boot.