It’s Saturday morning.
Which means it’s time for our weekly roundup of IU basketball links.
But I’ve decided to do things a little differently this Saturday. I hope you won’t mind.
With another game coming in just a few hours (v Louisville, at 12:30 p.m. ET on CBS), and such a dreadful Big Ten opener in our immediate rearview, what do you say we skip any further reflection on the Nebraska loss and just turn our collective attention forward.
So if you want to know what Coach Crean, Thomas Bryant, and De’Ron Davis have to say in advance of today’s game, click here.
Further, if you want a detailed preview of the game, via our friends at Inside the Hall, click here.
And if you really want to linger on the Nebraska loss, and the persistent issues it exposed, listen to this week’s edition of Assembly Call Radio.
But for the rest of the time that I have with you this morning, after a brief word from our sponsor, I want to tell you about an incredible book that I just finished reading …
The Assembly Call is proudly sponsored by SeatGeek — the ticket search engine that makes finding tickets to Indiana basketball and football games a cinch.
Looking for tickets to upcoming IU sporting events? Consider these upcoming IU games:
- January 3: IU v Wisconsin (From $37)
- January 7: IU v Illinois (From $59)
- January 15: IU v Rutgers (From $82)
Listed prices valid as of date this was published — click link to see latest prices.
Add our promo code ASSEMBLY to your SeatGeek account to receive a $20 rebate on your first purchase.
How is Bill Garrett not in the Basketball Hall of Fame?
That was my first thought after turning the final page of Getting Open: The Unknown Story of Bill Garrett and the Integration of College Basketball.
Garrett is a member of the Indiana Basketball Hall of Fame — as well he should be. He is the only man to ever win an Indiana state championship as a player (with Shelbyville in 1947) and as a coach (with Crispus Attucks in 1959).
Garrett is also in the Indiana University Sports Hall of Fame — as well he should be. He was a 3-year starter (during an era when freshmen were ineligible), a team MVP, and an All American.
Yet those accolades don’t even begin to describe the lasting impact he had on basketball at Indiana, the Big Ten, and around the country by being the man who broke the Big Ten’s “gentlemen’s agreement” to not have black players on the roster.
That story forms the heart of Getting Open. And it’s a fascinating one.
At the center of the story, of course, is Garrett, who, like Jackie Robinson only a few years before, was chosen for the arduous role of being first because of the trust that pioneering action takers like Faburn Defrantz, Nate Kaufman, Herman B Wells, and Branch McCracken had in Garrett’s ability to exceed the role’s demands.
And exceed he did.
Bill Garrett didn’t receive memorably rousing ovations at the ends of both his high school and collegiate careers simply by blending in and being okay. He was exceptional. He left an imprint — an important one, a lasting one, which this book memorializes wonderfully.
While the steps Bill Garrett took helped pave the way for the slow trickle of black college basketball players to follow, and the floodgates that opened thereafter, his example transcends mere college basketball.
Because Bill Garrett was much more than just a great basketball player. He was an admirable man — a man of equal parts pride and humility, a man of principle, a good husband, a good father, a good friend.
You will learn all of this by reading Getting Open.
And you will learn much more.
You will learn about the great Herman B Wells, whose dedication to making Indiana University better never ceased, even on his deathbed. As Indiana basketball fans, we would not be able to claim, with immense pride, that we broke the Big Ten’s egregious gentlemen’s agreement were it not for Mr. Wells’ courage and foresight.
You will also learn about Emerson Johnson — who delivered one of the great performances in Indiana high school basketball history in helping Shelbyville win a state title, but who still couldn’t dance with a white classmate without the barrier of a handkerchief between his hand and hers. (The description of this particular scene affected me more than any other.)
You will learn about the state of Indiana’s harrowing history of racial intolerance. If you’re an older Hoosier, you likely know all about it. If you’re a younger Hoosier, you may have your eyes opened to the truth about our state’s regrettable past.
And you will, of course, learn about Bill Garrett’s years playing at Indiana under Branch McCracken. You’ll learn about the chemistry issues that were present on the team Garrett’s sophomore year, and how they improved during his final two seasons, along with the team’s performance. You’ll learn about how a severely undersized team — the 6’2 Garrett was Indiana’s center — turned its weakness into a strength by reprising the “Hurryin’ Hoosiers” of the early 1940s.
You might also learn a little something about yourself in the process of reading this book. I certainly did.
I realized how easy it is, given the comfort of my upbringing and the distance in time that 2016 is from 1947, to forget just how unnecessarily and unconscionably difficult life was for a large segment of our country just a few generations ago. It’s never fun to be reminded about this, but it’s important to be from time to time.
The quickest way to repeat history is to forget about it. The best part about Getting Open is that it shines a light on a very dark part of our history, while shining an even brighter one on a handful of important men and women who helped change things for the better.
I cannot recommend this book more highly.
And I am very grateful for the generosity of the Assembly Call audience member who sent me this book.
I’ve read most of the books about Indiana basketball. They are all interesting and important in their own rights. None is more interesting, and certainly none is more important, than this one.
(Note: The links to the book included here are affiliate links, so Amazon pays us a commission should you click those links and purchase.)
And with that, the joy of hanging Banner #6 is now one week closer.
Thanks for your continued support for The Assembly Call. We’ll be back next Saturday with a new roundup.
Now go enjoy yourself a 6-banner Saturday.