Monday April 5th, 2010

Broad Ripple Tavern

(Luke Winn/SI)

INDIANAPOLIS -- In search of inspiration the day before the national title game, my colleague Andy Staples and I went to Broad Ripple Tavern. Staples was working on a Brad Stevens column, and Stevens had mentioned that the tavern was his regular Wednesday lunch-and-game-planning spot. Staples' thinking was that if he ordered the exact same lunch as the Butler coach -- a chicken Caesar Salad and a water -- he'd be in the optimal mental state for writing.

My thinking was that it would be good for blog readers to see where Stevens does his game preparation. And that it would be good for me to eat something, since I got up early to write a Butler-Duke column and then went straight to press conferences without breakfast.

The location of Broad Ripple Tavern, as Staples wrote, is "between a hookah lounge and a shop that specializes in pipes, tobacco and fine writing instruments." I had pegged the latter establishment as a head shop -- Broad Ripple Village seems like the ideal place for a head shop in Indy -- but Staples' investigative work led to the discovery of the fine writing instruments, and a proper description. I also worried that no one would actually be at the tavern, it being Easter Sunday, but this was not the case.

Not only were plenty of people there at 3:45 p.m., the bar was running a $3 pint special on a sign that read, "Cornhole every Thursday and Sunday." Easter was no exception, and so there were patrons tossing beanbags on dual cornhole courts set up in the back room.

When I asked Kurtis Hahn, one of the bar's employees, where Stevens' table of choice was, he pointed to one right next to the cornhole courts, and within a couple of paces of a Golden Tee Live 2010 machine. Both Staples and myself had been expecting a sanctuary that would be conducive to deep basketball thoughts; upon seeing it, I said, "That's the table? That's the room?"

I proceeded to shoot a FlipCam video entitled 45 Seconds of Cornhole; the Stevens table is the square one, just to Retro Dwyane Wade's right*:

[wpvideo iUpjJeU2 w=590]

(* Retro Dwyane Wade is actually Hahn. Who is not related in any way to Butler's Zach Hahn.)

Hahn did clarify that Stevens' table is typically in a less-hectic setting. The coach usually has the room to himself, without any Wolfmother on the stereo, when he's poring over his scouting data. "Those cornhole boards aren't out there when [Stevens] comes in," Hahn said. "If they were, he'd be like, 'Hey, uh could you guys keep that down? I've got Tom Izzo to get ready for here!'"

Stevens did come in last week, and turned down the bar's offer of a free lunch. He said he didn't want to break routine. Just like the flying, post-game back-bump, paying for the Caesar salad is a Stevens tradition.

The tavern was packed for the Final Four game against Michigan State -- Hahn said the whole place was chanting "defense" on the Spartans' last possession, when Gordon Hayward blocked Draymond Green's shot hand -- and should be full for the battle with Duke. A whiteboard sign above the bar displays the last five lines from the Butler War Song:

And in the glow of the victory firelight,

Hist'ry cannot deny

To add a page or two

For Butler's fighting crew

Beneath the Hoosier sky.

Now, we wait to see if Hist'ry is on Butler's side tonight.

Butler Sign at Broad Ripple Tavern

(Luke Winn/SI)

SI Apps
We've Got Apps Too
Get expert analysis, unrivaled access, and the award-winning storytelling only SI can provide - from Peter King, Tom Verducci, Lee Jenkins, Seth Davis, and more - delivered straight to you, along with up-to-the-minute news and live scores.