Photos: My date with ‘Indiana’s Basketball Cathedral’

Dec. 31, 2013

To some, that’s New Year’s Eve.

To me, it was the night I got my feet wet with professional sports photography.

You can read my column on the subject here.

But with this post, I will delve more into the details surrounding the historic Hinkle Fieldhouse on the campus of Butler University, and my day in Indianapolis.

On Dec. 26, with no plans for New Year’s Eve, I submitted a request for media credentials to the Butler-Villanova men’s basketball game on the last day of 2013. After some persistence (read: borderline annoyance) I was granted credentials to shoot photos of my first college sporting event.

Now, the photos I got from shooting the game would not be published in The CR, because by the time we went to press again the game would be old news.

So, I shot the game to get subject matter for the aforementioned column, among other things

  • I didn’t want to sit at my apartment by myself on NYE (who wants to be alone for that?!).
  • I wanted to get better at shooting basketball, in what some would consider a professional setting (covering college sports definitely is a pro gig).
  • I wanted to see what had the potential to be an amazing basketball game (which it was, as pointed out in my column).
  • I wanted to experience one of the two most historic basketball venues (Hinkle and Assembly Hall in Bloomington) in the biggest basketball state in the country.


Since I had never actually spent time in Indianapolis, I got to the city about three hours before the 7:30 tip-off so I could drive around and see what Indy had to offer.

I must say, for a relatively large city, traffic isn’t bad at all. The fact it was New Year’s Eve may have had a part in that, but regardless, it wasn’t a hassle like, say, Detroit.

My first top was to Hinkle, just to make sure I could get there. Then I drove by Lucas Oil Stadium, home of the Indianapolis Colts. Lucas Oil is, for lack of better words, huge. In comparison, Ford Field seats 65,000 people, which is 3,000 more than Lucas Oil, but the stadium in Indy makes the building in Detroit look tiny.

(Note: I WILL shoot a game at Lucas Oil in 2014.)

After a quick pit stop, I went to grab some dinner at Bru Burger Bar, which was recommended by a friend of mine who lives in the Indianapolis metro area. Great food.

Then, back to Hinkle I went.

I arrived at the stadium about an hour before the game started, so as to get situated and then experience the place a little bit.

After receiving my credentials, I went straight to the media room to get unpacked, then I went out to the court to watch a little bit of the pregame shoot around.

Then, I had run into a few people I knew that were going to the game. We walked around the stadium, and the resident historian of the group, Aaron, showed me around and some of the little nuances about the arena (such as, they still use the original court from when Hinkle first opened in 1928.

The game

I situated myself on the baseline, and to my right was a photographer from the Indianapolis Star and next to him was a guy from the Associated Press. The two of them, along with a guy to my left, were armed with gear I could very well have just stared at throughout the course of the game.

The gentleman to my left had not one, but three cameras, all with varying lenses, and he was using them all interchangeably.

Let’s just say, based on my surroundings, I was slightly intimidated.

These guys were seasoned vets from big, wealthy, nationwide news agencies. Then there’s me, a newbie from a newspaper somewhere in Small Town America.

During timeouts and what not, I chatted up with a few of the other guys next to me, and surprisingly they were all pretty cool. On one occasion, in the first half, I stopped a ball from hitting us and potentially causing physical damage to us or our equipment.

By this time, the Indy Star guy had relocated, so I was next to the AP dude, and after my stop he leaned over and said, “Thanks for saving my life.”

To which I replied, “No worries, I’m good at that,” knowing very well that we could’ve gotten hurt had we still been looking through our viewfinders.

The action

Butler fell behind early, but rallied to take the lead midway through the first half. With each shot the Bulldogs made, especially when they hit a 3-pointer, had a defensive stop or took the lead, the crowd erupted.

You can hear on TV when a crowd goes nuts, but being floor level is a completely different experience.

Numerous times, during media timeouts or when I had a quick second with action at the opposite end of the floor, I sent a couple texts explaining what it was like to be on the court during those times of uproar.

“This place is electric!” one text said.

“This place is f***in nuts,” read another.

Those were understatements, as I found out later when Butler tied the game and made a defensive stop at the end of regulation to send the game into overtime.

The Bulldogs eventually fell to the Wildcats 76-73. I was definitely indifferent to the outcome of the game since I had no horse in the race, but I can at least say it was one hell of a basketball game. One that I am fortunate to get to call the first college basketball game I have covered as a professional journalist/photographer.

And, as my column states, it also helped strengthen my newfound fondness for basketball.

The photos

What made shooting in Hinkle so, easy, was the darkness of the background compared to the action on the court. The only time it may be hard to tell what is going on, as the slideshow below suggests, is when the play was at the other end of the court in front of the student section because those sections are lit as well as the court.

Additionally, depending on where the action was on the court in reference to my position, the scoreboard on the wall is visible in the background, giving the photo more depth of field and adding another element to the picture.

Now, I’m not exactly the best photographer (yet), especially when it comes to basketball, but I still managed to get to get some photos that I am proud to have shot.

I took more than 400 photos during the game, and when it comes time for me to get my new camera I’m sure I’ll shoot upwards of 600-700 the next game I cover.

But alas, below are the low-quality pictures from the game.



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