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Gold and Black Illustrated, Vol 28 Digital 4

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Page 22 of 88

GOLD AND BLACK ILLUSTRATED VOLUME 28, ISSUE 4 23 and what they did with Mackey a few years ago leaves me speechless," Hallman said. "I am blown away." The tours were great, but Hallman admitted later it was even better to meet Painter's basketball team in its locker room a little later. The team had just finished a team meet- ing, focused on ending a three-game skid. "Those guys are impressive," Hallman said. "They look you right in the eye and made us feel important and wel- come. They have been coached-up right by Coach Painter. You can tell that right away. "I can see why the guys play for him. He is a real person, and you can tell that he and his staff take good care of the guys." Brian Walker hosted all the Saturday visitors for a beer- and-pizza event at his spacious home south of Lafayette. More detailed discussions ensued on the potential for a 40th reunion, but there also was plenty of basketball chat- ter. It even included Walker moving around Hallman and Edmonson like chess pieces to better explain a basketball situation he had remembered. Anthrop finished off a busy day for Hallman and Ed- monson with a visit to Painter's house on the opposite end of Tippecanoe County. The pair had visited Rose's house while they were in college and the difference between the two homes was another not-so-subtle reminder of how col- lege basketball has changed over the years. The following evening, Morris, Kitchel and Barnes joined the group along with my fellow managers for a dinner event hosted by the John Purdue Club. It was a challenge to get everyone to sit down for dinner with all the stories and rem- iniscing going on. Once the dinner concluded, a brief program ensued giv- ing each player an opportunity to say a few words, prompted by some of the questions I asked as the makeshift host. Barnes, who entered late as his son Caleb Swanigan was being honored at halftime that night as well, chimed in at the end of the questioning. He quickly took credit for the many nicknames he had given to teammates and manag- ers and talked about giving Kitchel, who was raised and still works around agriculture in Cass County about 40 miles northeast of campus, the nickname "Country." On a roll, Barnes told a second quick story about the first time he and Kitchel were at study table together. "Country just kept peeking up from his books and kind of staring at me," Barnes said. "After this went on for a while, I finally just said to him, 'You've never been this close to a black man before, have you?'" With laughter filling the JPC conference room, Kitchel stood up and in his straight-forward way, he owned the fundamentally truthful statement and said, "Rosie, you are right. I hadn't." It was a humorous reminder that players on this team, like so many in college sports, came from different places, different perspectives and found a way to blend together. But there were poignant moments as well. Hallman, still an imposing 6-foot-8 figure, stood up and asked his fellow forward Steve Walker to stand up with him. Hallman told the story of how Steve Walker had earned a starting position at forward over Hallman due to points earned in Rose's intricate practice scoring system. "Thirty-eight years later, I have to publicly thank the man that had the courage to go to Coach Rose and say, 'Arnette should be starting for the good of the team,' " Hallman said as his voice cracked. "He didn't have to do that, but he did it for the good of the team. I haven't thanked him enough for that, and it was time I did." There were tears in the eyes of Steve and brother Brian as the room was silent as every word was spoken. By the time the team was announced at halftime, the mood returned to being light. Brian Walker addressed the Mackey Arena crowd and reminded Boilermaker fans about how the '80 team beat IU in the Sweet 16 on the way to the Final Four. It was playing to the crowd to be sure, but it was also another reminder of a remarkable season. And also a chal- lenge and encouragement for the 2018 Boilermaker team to become the next team to reach college basketball's hal- lowed ground. After the thrilling win over Penn State, the players and managers gathered outside the basketball offices to pick up their things. No one seemed in a hurry to leave, despite it being nearly 11 p.m. on a Sunday. I found it hard to say goodbye to my manager brethren, who I had shared so many fun and challenging times with and around the basketball program. We were close then, and we are close again now. By the time the weekend was over, it was obvious to me the team that may not have been all that close 38 years ago had become close now. It was also a reminder that it is nev- er too late to do that, and to celebrate and remember what was truly the time of our lives. I look forward to seeing everybody again in two years. And I mean everybody. j

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