TERRE HAUTE — Saturday should be a fun day at Rose-Hulman.
That’s when the eastside engineering institute will celebrate its 100 years of basketball with a women’s/men’s doubleheader against Defiance College in Hulbert Arena. Tipoffs are slated for 1 and 3 p.m.
Not only do both Rose teams need victories to stay in the hunt for playoff spots in the upcoming Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference tournament, the women’s contest will showcase the team’s “Think Pink” for breast cancer awareness day. Fifteen minutes before opening tipoff, approximately 45 breast cancer survivors from the Wabash Valley will be honored in a ceremony.
The team also has sponsored the sale of “Think Pink” T-shirts on campus. All proceeds from the women’s Saturday gate receipts and T-shirt sales will go toward breast cancer research.
Then at halftime of the men’s game, a substantial number of former men’s and women’s players will be introduced on the court.
The day concludes with the “100th Season of Basketball Celebration” dinner for alumni and guests that will follow the doubleheader.
According to the Rose-Hulman men’s basketball media guide, the first game played by the school occurred in the 1897-98 season. It was a 12-2 loss to the YMCA.
Over the past 100 years, the male Engineers have won 963 games and lost 962. They’ve qualified for the NCAA Division III tournament eight times (1977, 1978, 1981, 1982, 1989, 1996, 1997 and 1999).
Coaching 25 of those years was John Mutchner, who compiled a record of 341-291 from 1963 to 1988.
Now a land developer in Terre Haute, the 73-year-old Mutchner carries plenty of fond memories from his coaching days.
“We had 10 straight winning seasons at one stretch, running from 1974-75 to 1983-84,” Mutchner recalled Thursday. “I’ve always felt that at a place like Rose-Hulman, with all the academic pressure on the student-athletes and no [athletic] scholarships, if you had a winning season, it was a good year. We had a lot of seasons with 20 wins and 17, 18 wins.”
But victory totals aren’t his only basketball memory.
“I’m probably most proud of our players and what they’ve become,” Mutchner said. “Certainly, they didn’t become what they are and who they are because of me or being in the basketball program. But we hope that some place along the line, something rubbed off that helped them be a better citizen, a better employer, a better employee, a better father. You never know when you’re reaching somebody.
“I’m also very proud of the fact that everyone who played for me from 1971 to 1987, if they stayed in the program four years, had a chance to go to Europe. We made five trips to Europe.
“Not only that, we were the first American college or university team to ever play in the Soviet Union. And that was back when the hammer and sickle were still flying over the Kremlin. So it wasn’t easy. I worked on that every day for a year to get it done. I think that was very significant, even though we lost our bags on the trip and had to play in pick-up uniforms when we played in Moscow. That was quite an experience.
“We also played in Hawaii twice, the Bahamas twice. We played in Mexico. We played in Canada … We spent New Year’s Eve in London, I think, three different times.”
Current Rose men’s coach Jim Shaw has continued the traveling tradition over the past 14 seasons.
“It’s really part of Rose’s basketball history,” Mutchner emphasized. “I’m very pleased that Jim has kept that going.”
Mutchner started several other traditions — including use of the cannon, siren and bell — at home games inside the old Shook Fieldhouse, which was demolished to make room for a parking lot and walkway in the summer of 1997.
“When I came there, they were bringing in two or three hundred people a game and maybe not that many,” he said. “It just seemed like it was kind of a blah situation. So I started collecting noise-making devices … and by my second year, we had them going pretty much full blast.
“We had two big bells mounted on rubber-tired wagons. We had two police sirens wired in the ceiling of the fieldhouse. All that would go off and the team would run out on a red carpet [before the start of a game], then we’d shoot the cannon off and we would drop the ’Give ‘Em Hell’ banner from the ceiling. It was about 40 feet long. This became tradition. We did it exactly the same way every time and it was tuned to the school fight song… After a while, the atmosphere changed significantly and we started winning and we started getting better crowds.”
The legendary cannon — which caused me to almost jump out of my seat a few times in the 1990s — made its presence felt in more ways than one.
“One time, I remember distinctly, the thing going off and a guy walking in front of it,” Mutchner said. “He had a Coke in each hand. The thing went off and he just threw both Cokes about six feet in the air.”
Mutchner still enjoys attending home games in Hulbert Arena, located inside Rose’s Sports and Recreation Center, even without the cannon, siren and bell.
“It’s a much nicer building, but the old fieldhouse had a lot of charm,” he noted. “And the day they tore it down, it was still a great place to play basketball.”
One of Mutchner’s most memorable games in Shook Fieldhouse was a 71-57 loss to Wittenberg in front of a huge crowd in 1977.
“We played Wittenberg in the semifinal game of the NCAA [Division III] tournament,” he said. “We got beat and Wittenberg went on to win the national championship. I didn’t feel we played as well as we should have against them.”
Mutchner respectfully declined to name a most memorable player from his 25 years at the helm, saying there were too many outstanding players to name one. He did admit that 1970 graduate Don Ings, the school’s all-time leading scorer with 2,083 points, would be high on the list.
“I’m hesitant to say who was the best player we ever had,” Mutchner explained, “although Ings was an exceptional talent.”
More recently, 1999 to be exact, Rose-Hulman’s Bryan Egli was named the NCAA Division III National Men’s Basketball Player of the Year by Columbus Multimedia.
But Egli never hit 12 3-pointers in one game. Rose’s Mike Webster did accomplish that, however, in a 76-72 loss to Eureka on Dec. 13, 1986. At the time, Webster broke the national Division III record.
That performance provided another fond memory for Mutchner, who I’m sure will experience many more Saturday.
• Our pal Al — Former Indiana State football player and assistant coach Alvin Reynolds joined the staff of the NFL’s Atlanta Falcons this week.
During the past five seasons, Reynolds coached defensive backs for the Jacksonville Jaguars, which is what he’ll be doing for the Falcons and new head coach Mike Smith.
Reynolds previously coached DBs for the Denver Broncos, Carolina Panthers and Baltimore Ravens.
Suddenly a New York Giants fan, David Hughes can be reached by phone at 1-800-783-8742, Option 4, or at (812) 231-4224; by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org; or by fax at (812) 231-4321.
TERRE HAUTE — Saturday should be a fun day at Rose-Hulman.
- Hughes News & Views
Terre Haute runner sets up race to help Boston
Having competed in the Boston Marathon once before in 2003, 35-year-old Majel Wells of Terre Haute thought she should give it another try in 2013.
“My goal was just to finish and enjoy Boston,” she reflected this week. “I had an injury [runner’s knee] beforehand, so I wasn’t too worried about beating my time from 2003 [4 hours, 10.20 seconds].
“But nobody cares about what your time is at Boston anyway.”
From what I’ve heard over the years, she’s right. Unless you’re a super-serious runner, the Boston Marathon has been more about taking in the atmosphere and having fun than placing in the top 50, although Wells was pleased that she beat her previous time by finishing in 3:55.19 on April 15.
Obviously, her race time wasn’t the most vivid memory that Wells took away from her 2013 Boston experience.
Former South players to play in Saylor benefit game
I had my first phone conversation with Mike Saylor since mid-February on Thursday and he sounded good.
The former Terre Haute South High School boys basketball coach, who’s been battling cancer this year, has been traveling back and forth to the MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston for chemotherapy treatments.
Recent South swimmers Roach, Bray heading to DI nationals
I’m sure most of you with office jobs can relate.
When work gets busy, sometimes it’s easy to skim over our emails. After all, how many times do we need to read the same nonsense from alleged Nigerians wanting to make us rich if we’ll send them several thousand dollars first?
So after having three consecutive days off, that almost happened to me when I returned to work Tuesday. Then I realized that the message from Jeff Thompson, Terre Haute South High School’s boys and girls swimming coach, contained significant news.
NCAA Division III basketball tournament returns to Rose-Hulman
The last time Rose-Hulman served as host for the NCAA Division III men’s basketball tournament, its game was played inside an old World War II airplane hangar.
You “old-timers” should know the building I’m talking about and the matchup wasn’t really that long ago — March 6, 1997, to be exact.
DAVID HUGHES: Childhood friends use faith, sports to get them through
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Now might be too late for giving Christmas presents, but the book “Trophies and Tears: The Story of Evansville and the Aces” is a fascinating read for longtime Indiana basketball fans, particularly those older than 40.
Written by award-winning Kyle Keiderling of Henderson, Nev., and released in hardcover format in mid-December, the 480-page “Trophies and Tears” documents the rich tradition of the University of Evansville men’s basketball program through recent interviews and research of old yearbooks and newspaper/scrapbook clippings.
The book contains many cheery moments — behind-the-scenes details of all five NCAA College Division (now known as Division II) championships won in the 1950s, 1960s and early 1970s by the Purple Aces and their legendary coach Arad McCutchan — although some of those moments don’t seem so cheery from an Indiana State perspective when the Sycamores found themselves on the losing end of scores.
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Bryan Egli and Joe Puthoff, both Rose-Hulman basketball starters I covered in the late 1990s, took their degrees from the prestigious engineering institute and found successful careers in the Indianapolis area.
Egli, also a former West Vigo High School multi-sport standout, lives in Carmel and works for Thieneman Construction in Westfield. Puthoff lives in Indy and works for Rolls Royce Aircraft Engines.
DAVID HUGHES: Super Bowl odds getting stranger and stranger
Today’s annual “Super Bowl odds column” feels special to me because I’ve been a diehard NFL fan since 1967 and next Sunday will be the first time the big game takes place in our great state of Indiana.
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Almost 10 years ago, February 2002 to be exact, the New England Patriots upset the high-powered St. Louis Rams to win Super Bowl XXXVI in New Orleans, the Winter Olympics entertained spectators in Salt Lake City and Terre Haute South High School’s girls basketball team started its tournament run toward a Class 4A state title.
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Last week, I was all set to beg Santa Claus to give the Indianapolis Colts a certificate good for one NFL regular-season victory.
Then the 2011 Colts decided to play like the 2009 Colts and clobber the Tennessee Titans on Sunday for their first win of the season. So that present won’t be necessary.
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When your favorite NFL team is threatening to finish 0-16, you have to figure a few fans will jump off the bandwagon.
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Jack Butcher, Howard Sharpe and Bill Stearman.
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Indiana State football alum Chris “Big C” Hicks will turn 58 Saturday and he knows exactly what he wants for his birthday.
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The Engineers have not endured a losing season since 2004. But they’ve opened this season at 0-2, causing Sokol to admit they’re desperate for a win.
“We’re all very hungry for a victory,” he said after practice Thursday. “We all want to taste victory really, really bad.”
Valley semipro football team reaches championship of IFL
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When I heard the NFL lockout finally ended this week, I looked for someone affiliated with the Indianapolis Colts to get a reaction.
Amateur boxing card set for outdoors at Show-Me's
We all know what Show-Me’s sports bar is famous for around Terre Haute, right?
Chicken wings, of course.
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When I walked in Sweatbox Gym through the alley door Wednesday, I wondered if a time machine had taken me back to the 1950s, the glory days of boxing.
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Plagued by one injury after another after another, Kristen Seaton was ready to turn off the lights on her volleyball career.
In her mind, the party was over.
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- Terre Haute runner sets up race to help Boston