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Sunday, April 11, 2021
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Saturday, April 10, 2021 10:37 AM
By BRIAN A. HOWEY

INDIANAPOLIS – If there was a silver lining after a horrible year of pandemic, it was that the Hoosier Hoops Holyland and its ancient cathedral (Hinkle Fieldhouse, among other venues) would become the Center of the Basketball Universe during March Madness. The pandemic has been a cruel arbiter. When it surfaced in March 2020, games were literally ended at halftime, Butler’s Bulldogs had been ranked No.5 in the nation just a month before, and Indiana Coach Archie Miller was looking at his first tournament in three years at the helm. There would be no crowned champion.

By the time the Pandemic March Madness unfolded last month, ominous trends began to emerge. Purdue was the lone state team to make the field. Archie Miller had been fired. Brad Stevens wasn’t interested in a move to Bloomington, even though his eighth year at the helm of the Boston Celtics was underwhelming, fueling speculation of dismissal. The pandemic field was not only missing IU, but Duke and Kentucky as well. Kansas and North Carolina missed the Sweet 16.

For the next two weeks, it appeared the basketball gods were punking us. Purdue continued its March Madness futility, losing to tough North Texas State, ruining about 90% of brackets in the state. Half the IU team had entered the transfer portal. The powerful Big Ten’s nine entries quickly faded despite early round games at familiar Assembly Hall and Mackey Arena. And when the Final Four was forged, who showed up? Houston Coach Kelvin Sampson, who had been the poster boy of IU’s post-1987 futility.

The notion that the Cheatin’ Sampson might cut down the nets at Lucas Oil Stadium was of peculiar karma for the Hoosier nation.

But then the clouds parted, a shaft of sunlight appeared, and angels began singing. Gene Keady showed up for a reunion at Bob Knight’s new Bloomington digs. Mike Woodson was lured away from the New York Knicks to take the helm at IU, pleasing The General. After two decades since Knight was fired by Myles Brand during his “zero tolerance” era, IU decided to arm its stalled franchise with someone from the Knight coaching tree.
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  • Holcomb vetoes emergency powers bill
    “I firmly believe a central part of this bill is unconstitutional. The legislation impermissibly attempts to give the General Assembly the ability to call itself into a special session, thereby usurping a power given exclusively to the governor. Avoidable legal challenges during a state of emergency will only serve to be disruptive to our state.” - Gov. Eric Holcomb, vetoing a bill that would have allowed the Indiana General Assembly to call itself into special session during a public emergency. The bill had passed by wide margins in the Republica super majority-controlled House and Senate earlier this week.  Legislators are expected to override Holcomb's veto with simple majorities in the House and Senate, before Indiana courts rule on the constitutionality of the bill.
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  • HPI Power 50: Crisis shapes 2021 list

    By BRIAN A. HOWEY
    and MARK SCHOEFF JR.

    INDIANAPOLIS – After two decades of publishing Power 50 lists in the first week of January, this one comes in a true crisis atmosphere. As we watched in horror the U.S. Capitol being overrun by supporters of President Trump on Wednesday, the COVID-19 pandemic has killed more than 8,000 Hoosiers and 350,000 Americans, shutting down our state and nation for nearly two months last spring. While vaccines are coming, there will be a distinct BC (Before COVID) and AC delineations as this epic story comes to a close. It gripped like a vise key figures, from Gov. Eric Holcomb to Vice President Pence. It delayed an election, closed schools and restaurants, reordered the way we do business and buy things, and will set in motion ramifications that we can’t truly understand (like the virus itself) at this point in time. There’s another crisis at hand. It’s our society’s civics deficit, fueled by apathy that transcends our schools and societal engagement, and allowed to fester by a news media in atrophy. That three members of the Indiana congressional delegation – U.S. Sen. Mike Braun and Reps. Jim Banks and Jackie Walorski – signed on to a protest this week, induced by losing President Donald Trump to “investigate” widespread vote fraud that doesn’t exist, is another indicator of the risks a polarized and undisciplined political spectrum brings to the fragile American democratic experience.

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