DAYTON -- OK, first off, in today's episode of Mr. Obvious Tells It Like It Is: The long, long ramp down the floor (and up from it) here at the Dayton Arena was a lot easier to negotiate 32 years ago.
I think I've been here maybe one time since Indiana played in the NCAA regional here in 1981, and absolutely destroyed a good Maryland team. Thirty-two years, good lord.
(Another Mr. Obvious moment: Yes, I am indeed older than dirt. Or dirt's older brother, for that matter).
Anyway, I trudged down the ramp to watch James Madison practice this afternoon, and a whole flood of memories washed over me. The way Ray Tolbert and Landon Turner owned the Terrapins inside. The way a team led by the likes of Buck Williams and Albert King simply got swept aside. The way Maryland coach Lefty Driesell -- I was sitting right behind the Maryland bench -- called timeout in the second half, knelt down and slowly looked every one of his players in the eye.
"Wahl," he finally said, in that thick porch-swing drawl of his, "you gahs wanna get beat bah 30, or whut?"
I don't recall any affirmative responses, the Maryland guys being no dummies.
I also don't recall being any less surprised by what IU did than what had transpired a couple of hours before. In the day's opening game, St. Joe's upset Mark Aguirre, Terry Cummings and No. 1 DePaul. And again there's a memory there: Standing at the bottom of that long, long ramp as Aguirre brushed past, ignoring everyone who hailed him. Stunned probably undersells the look on his face.
And, yes, I imagine that long walk was just as tough for him as it is for me these days. Maybe tougher.