Let’s talk about one of my favorite movies of all time. It’s a little basketball flick called Hoosiers. This is a movie that I will re-watch nearly every single March as I get ready for the NCAA Tournament. Sure, it’s a movie about basketball, but it’s also about a team that works hard, does things the right way, and embraces the role of the underdog. That’s exactly the frame of mind I want after Selection Sunday and the NCAA tournament field is announced.
Hoosiers is based on a true story and was released back in 1986. A small-town Indiana basketball team (Milan) made the state finals way back in 1954. They didn’t separate the schools by classes back then, so it was literally David v. Goliath. If you were setting the tournament odds on them winning, it would be like 1000-1. They would have had no chance of winning this version of March Madness from Indiana high school basketball.
The coach Norman Dale is played by Gene Hackman, and he had a spotty past. He was once a start college coach until he hit one of his players. Now, this job with the Hickory high school team is seen as his last chance at redemption.
Dennis Hopper is another star in the movie. He plays the town drunk who absolutely loves basketball. He played the part so well he was nominated for an Oscar.
Dale cleans house as soon as he gets there so he’s left with only five players that by in to his system. There isn’t a bunch of scrimmaging going on, instead he makes them run to get into condition and work on boring drills to learn the fundamentals.
When the first game comes around Dale plays a different style than the team is used to. He focuses on defense and slowing down the tempo, which isn’t as exciting as a high-octane, fast paced offense that scores a lot of points.
The Hickory team recently lost their coach to a death and the star player is devastated. He’s decided not to play and one of the faculty members who looks out of him, Myra Fleener, tells Dale not to try and change his mind.
He doesn’t even want to play because the former coach was a father figure to him. The town ends up finding out about Dale’s checkered past and wants to let him go. However, Jimmy decides that he wants to play basketball again. But, he’s only going to play if the town keeps Dale on as coach. The team faces plenty of adversity on their run to state, and the movie closes with an epic buzzer beater.
I won’t ruin it for you, but let’s just say it’s worth the wait.