TERRE HAUTE —
In Indiana, it is permissible for a grown man to cry when facing basketball-related nostalgia.
The state constitution should contain such an amendment.
I’ll admit it — I get choked up when Jimmy Chitwood promises “I’ll make it” during the Hickory Huskers’ final timeout of the greatest hoops flick ever, “Hoosiers.” Others’ eyes might well up at the sight of grainy video footage of Pete Maravich in his LSU days.
So, after reading the following revelation, guys who also happen to be Indiana State Sycamore fans may want to wear shades — to maintain their dignity — while watching the closing seconds of the NCAA championship game on April 4.
“One Shining Moment” — the musical backdrop used by CBS for its popular Big Dance highlights montage, shown after every NCAA men’s basketball title game since 1987 — was inspired by the 1979 Sycamores.
Yes, it is (gulp) true. The quintessential Cinderella team captivated the song’s writer, David Barrett. Thus, even though ISU got knocked out of this year’s tournament in the first round, the university will be present in spirit when the 2011 winners cut down the nets in Houston, 12 days from now.
Wow. Terre Haute is the setting for the national anthem of March Madness. Why? “Because I lived in America and loved basketball,” Barrett explained by phone from his home in Ann Arbor, Mich. “And for a lot of people who think they are basketball players, as I did, we were watching Larry.”
(“Larry,” of course, is Larry Bird, who led ISU from anonymity to a No. 1 ranking and a 33-0 record before falling to Magic Johnson and the Michigan State Spartans in the 1979 NCAA Final.)
The story behind Barrett’s “One Shining Moment” is filled with irony, rejection, acceptance and good timing.
Seven years after ISU’s improbable NCAA run, Barrett found himself sitting virtually alone in a bar at 2 a.m., watching the day’s NBA highlights on ESPN. Up on the TV screen in that bar — which was located in, of all places, East Lansing (home of Michigan State University) — was Bird, performing his wizardry with the Boston Celtics.
“Then the most beautiful waitress in the Midwest, who didn’t know I existed, sat down beside me at the bar, which was empty,” Barrett recalled. “So, what next?”
He tried to impress her with his knowledge of Bird, dating back to 1979. “It was my moment to talk about what I know,” Barrett said, “and she was not impressed.
“I turned around and she was gone, never to be seen again,” he continued, “but I got a great song out of it.”
The phrase “one shining moment” hit Barrett as he walked out. The next morning, he sat at a table in the Knight Cap 2, waiting to meet a friend for breakfast, and wrote the lyrics to “One Shining Moment” on a napkin. They ate, and Barrett drove back to his apartment in Haslet, Mich., and composed the song’s music at his “funky little piano” in less than 20 minutes.
Soon, another friend heard a tape of Barrett playing “One Shining Moment” and paid to have him record it professionally. Then, Barrett bumped into a childhood friend, Armen Keteyian, an investigative reporter for CBS, who eventually heard his old buddy’s song and passed it along to Doug Towey, CBS Sports’ creative director. Towey loved it, and planned to use it during the highlights of Super Bowl XXI, but postgame interviews ran long and it got bumped.
So, Towey saved it for the 1987 NCAA basketball championship two months later.
Seconds after Indiana guard Keith Smart’s corner shot beat Syracuse, Barrett’s life changed as he watched it all on a sports bar TV.
“I didn’t know how they were going to use [“One Shining Moment”] and I saw Keith Smart hit that shot, and then, wow,” he recalled. “It was like lightning in a bottle.”
CBS pieced together video snippets of the ’87 tournament’s most dramatic moments, accompanied by the sounds of Barrett singing and performing his song. That’s been the routine ever since, with CBS later using versions by Teddy Pendergrass, Luther Vandross and Jennifer Hudson. Hudson’s rendition drew widespread criticism because the montage included clips of her singing, rather than all-basketball highlights. As of Wednesday, Barrett wasn’t sure whose version CBS will air the night of April 4.
These days, Barrett, now 56, writes songs and scores musical themes for such things as the telecasts of the PGA Championship and tennis’ U.S. Open. He’s married now, and his wife is an avid basketball fan, too. They live in Ann Arbor. The waitress who walked off during his Larry Bird stories in that East Lansing tavern is now an English teacher, and Barrett learned that she uses his inspirational book, “One Shining Moment,” based on the song.
Barrett has withstood unending gripes that his signature song is corny and syrupy. Nonetheless, it is a March Madness fixture and marks its silver anniversary on CBS this April, 32 years after a team from Terre Haute, Indiana, caught Barrett’s attention. Even though Barrett grew up in Michigan, he “actually was pulling for Indiana State [against Michigan State], because I was so taken by this guy, Larry Bird — like, who is he, and where’d he come from?” He soon found the answers, and tried to explain it to that waitress while they watched Bird’s NBA highlights in 1986.
“I sat there thinking, ‘This guy’s so good, he’s at a time in his life that he’s like Picasso with a painting,’” Barrett said of Bird’s Celtics heyday. “He could do anything.”
Except write a song. That’s Barrett’s court or canvas. A couple years ago, a reporter asked Bird if he realized “One Shining Moment” was written about him and the Sycamores. “He said he didn’t know that,” Barrett said, “but he said something [that was] vintage Larry: ‘Well, the song’s done good.’”
I need a handkerchief.
Mark Bennett can be reached at (812) 231-4377 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
TERRE HAUTE —
In Indiana, it is permissible for a grown man to cry when facing basketball-related nostalgia.
- Indiana State University
Zurek, one of ISU's best defenders, also working hard off the court
Winning basketball teams need glue players, the term sometimes used when referring to someone who helps hold it all together.
In some cases, that means getting the ball in the right place at the right time. Or having a knack for being in the right place at the right time.
It’s more often than not coming away with a loose ball on the court. It’s deflecting so many passes that you become the player that most annoys the opponent.
For Indiana State, that’s Natasha Zurek. The junior athletic training major was inserted into the starting lineup for the past two games.
Zurek leads the Sycamores with 16 steals through six games, which isn’t surprising to anyone on the team.
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Eastern Illinois placed second with 111 and Illinois State was third with 70.
The Sycamores started off the meet strong with wins in the mile run and 60-meter hurdles.
Freshman David Timlin won the mile, leading from the gun in a time of 4:15.20. In the hurdles, senior Greggmar Swift led a dominating performance by the Sycamores as they took the top four places in the event. Swift won the race in 7.74 seconds.
EIU might come at right time for ISU
Sometimes an opponent lines up just right on the schedule that suits a team’s needs.
That’s true for Indiana State as it travels to play Eastern Illinois at 8 p.m. today at Lantz Arena. And it’s not because the Panthers have struggled, even though they have.
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The Great Alaska Shootout is not going to provide the Great RPI Bump that Indiana State’s participation in last year’s Diamond Head Classic provided.
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ISU puts up fight, but can’t hold off SIU in football
Indiana State’s football team had nothing to play for aside from pride in its finale Saturday against Southern Illinois. The Sycamores also had an injury list that made it difficult to cobble together a starting unit at all.
Given the circumstances, ISU put up a very good fight against the playoff-hopeful Salukis, but the task was too much for the Sycamores as they fell 31-9 at Memorial Stadium.
ISU women play today at Marshall
The Indiana State women’s basketball players put their hands together at the end of practice Thursday, shouting a collective “do work.”
On the heels of a 90-74 loss at Stetson, the Missouri Valley Conference preseason favorites are 2-2 and not content with losing, especially when giving up 90 points.
Weather forced move of start line at NCAA
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ISU defeats Truman
What do you expect when a Division II team pays a visit to a Division I arena?
In Truman State’s case, you can expect a pretty good showing. Indiana State had some nervous moments against the Bulldogs, but the Sycamores prevailed 80-69 on Friday at Hulman Center.
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Big John is in the big show for the second straight year.
This time, Terre Haute’s own John Mascari, an Indiana State sophomore, has his sights on an All-American finish Saturday on the course he grew up racing as a prep standout at Terre Haute North.
Mascari was 60th in the NCAA championships as a freshman at Louisville, and after last week’s Great Lakes Region victory, he is confident he can crack the top 40 at LaVern Gibson Championship Course in front of hometown fans.
ISU basketball hopes to continue free-throw accuracy
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- More Indiana State University Headlines
- Zurek, one of ISU's best defenders, also working hard off the court