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Anspaugh: Hall-bound

So this is what 26 years of runnin' the picket fence at 'em will get you.

Two-bits, four-bits, six-bits, a dollar for Decatur native and filmmaker David Anspaugh, who along with "Hoosiers" co-creator Angelo Pizzo (a Bloomington native) are being inducted into the Indiana Basketball Hall of Fame for contributions to Indiana basketball beyond coaching or playing.

It is, shall we say, high time. The Little Film That Could -- loosely based on the 1954 Milan Miracle -- became an outlandish hit, and today there isn't a list of best sports films worth talking about that doesn't include it among its top five or so. Beyond that, though, it was a spot-on period piece, capturing the look, feel and ethos of a time in Indiana when high school basketball was a cultural touchstone in a way it never will be again.

Even Anspaugh understood that. On the day in 1996 when the IHSAA broke the news that Hoosiers Hysteria would henceforth become class hoops, my office phone rang. On the other end was Anspaugh, who'd heard the news way out in Utah.

"I just can't believe it,'' said Anspaugh, who, Hoosier to the core, made Hilliard Gates, the voice of Indiana basketball himself, the play-by-play announcer in "Hoosiers," and used a number of Indiana high school coaches, players, officials and even sportswriters (former Journal Gazette writer Jim Saturday was one) as extras.

"It's so disappointing, so darned disappointing," Anspaugh went on that day. "It's hard for me to imagine . . . it's so embarrassing for the state.''

He's certainly not. Which is why he's finally going right where he belongs.

Ben Smith's blog.