Hoosiers: Wikis


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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

This page is about the 1986 film "Hoosiers". Hoosiers is also the nickname of Indiana University athletic teams; see Indiana Hoosiers. For the UK Indie band, see The Hoosiers. For information on the word itself, see Hoosier.
Directed by David Anspaugh
Produced by Carter DeHaven
Angelo Pizzo
Written by Angelo Pizzo
Starring Gene Hackman,
Barbara Hershey,
Dennis Hopper,
Sheb Wooley,
Maris Valainis,
Kent Poole,
Steve Hollar,
Brad Long,
Wade Schenck
Music by Jerry Goldsmith
Distributed by Orion Pictures
Release date(s) November 14, 1986
Running time 115 min.
Language English

Hoosiers is a 1986 film about a small-town Indiana high school basketball team that wins the state championship.

The story is set during 1951, when all high schools in Indiana, regardless of size, competed in one state championship tournament. It is very loosely based on the story of a real Indiana team of that period, the Milan High School team that won the 1954 state championship.

Gene Hackman stars as Norman Dale, a new coach with a spotty past. It co-stars Barbara Hershey, Sheb Wooley and Dennis Hopper as a basketball-loving town drunkard, a performance that brought Hopper an Oscar nomination.

The movie was written by Angelo Pizzo, who would go on to co-produce the underdog sports movie Rudy, and directed by David Anspaugh, who directed that film. The score was composed by Jerry Goldsmith, who was also nominated for an Oscar for Best Music, Original Score.

Hoosiers was ranked number 13 by the American Film Institute on its 100 Years... 100 Cheers. The film was the choice of the readers of USA Today newspaper as the best sports movie of all time. In 2001, Hoosiers was selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress as being "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant".

In June 2008, AFI revealed its "Ten top Ten" — the best ten films in ten "classic" American film genres — after polling over 1,500 people from the creative community. Hoosiers was acknowledged as the fourth best film in the sports genre.[1][2]

A museum to commemorate the real life achievements of the 1954 Milan team has been established.[3]

Hoosiers was re-titled as Best Shot in the United Kingdom.


Plot summary

Norman Dale arrives in the rural Indiana town of Hickory to be a teacher and coach basketball. His friend Cletus has offered him the job, knowing that it is something of a last chance for Dale, who lost a previous position after physically striking a student.

Like much of the state, Hickory's community is passionate about basketball. It is also painfully aware that the best player in town, Jimmy Chitwood, does not intend to play on this season's team, and Hickory faculty member Myra Fleener warns the new coach not to try to persuade Jimmy to change his mind.

The enrollment is so small that Dale has very few players on his squad. Nevertheless, when his strict rules are disobeyed, he dismisses a key member of the team. The coach further alienates the community with a slow, defensive style that does not immediately produce results and by losing his temper, causing him to be ejected from games more than once.

Dale needs a new assistant coach and invites a knowledgeable basketball fan known as Shooter, the alcoholic father of one of his players, to join him on the bench. This, too, confounds the town, including Shooter's son.

By the middle of the season, an emergency town meeting is called to vote on whether Dale should be dismissed. Fleener appreciates the coach's staying away from Jimmy Chitwood and sides with him, but the town nevertheless votes him out. At the last minute, however, Jimmy asks permission to speak and announces that it is time for him to begin playing basketball again—but only on one condition, that Dale remain as a coach.

From this point on, Hickory becomes an unstoppable team. Despite a setback in which Shooter arrives drunk to a game and ends up in a hospital, Coach Dale's team advances through tournament play, with contributions from unsung players such as the pint-sized Ollie and devoutly religious Strap.

Hickory shocks the entire state by reaching the state championship game. There, in a large arena and before a crowd the likes of which these players have never seen, Hickory faces long odds in defeating a team from South Bend that is deeper and more athletic. But with Chitwood once again coming to the rescue at the last possible second, tiny Hickory takes home the 1952 Indiana state championship.

== Cast ==hi

Based on a true story

The film is very loosely based on the story of the 1954 Indiana state champions, Milan High School (pronounced /ˈmaɪlən/ MY-lun), but the term "inspired by a true story" may be more appropriate, as there was little the two teams had in common.

In most US states, high school athletic teams are divided into different classes, usually based on the number of enrolled students, with separate state championship tournaments held for each classification. At the time, Indiana conducted a single state basketball championship for all of its high schools, and continued to do so until 1997. Today, only Kentucky, Delaware, and Hawaii continue to use the one-class system to determine the state high school basketball champion. In addition, New Jersey uses a Tournament of Champions among all the group champions to determine a single state champion.[4] Some elements of the film do match closely with those of Milan's real story. Like the movie's Hickory High School, Milan was a very small high school in a rural, southern Indiana town. Both schools had undersized teams. Both Hickory and Milan won the state finals by two points: Hickory won 42–40, and Milan won 32–30. The final seconds of the Hoosiers state final hold fairly closely to the details of Milan's 1954 final; the final shot in the movie was taken from virtually the same spot on the floor as Bobby Plump's actual game-winner. The movie's final game was even shot in the same building that hosted the 1954 Indiana final, Butler University's Hinkle Fieldhouse (called Butler Fieldhouse in 1954) in Indianapolis.


  • The rosters
In the movie, Hickory begins its season without tryouts, as only seven players are even concerned with playing basketball for Hickory. Two players quit the team on the first day of practice, though one returns the next day and the other also returns to the team later into the season. Jimmy Chitwood is also added halfway through the season, bringing its roster to eight. At Milan, 58 of the 73 boys enrolled at the school tried out for the team, and had a roster consisting of 10 players.
  • Coaching controversy?
The controversy surrounding the coach and his methods, an important element of the movie's story, was completely absent in Milan — at least by 1954. Milan had fired its previous coach, Herman "Snort" Grinstead, after the 1951–52 season for ordering new uniforms against the superintendent's orders. Years later, Plump would tell an ESPN interviewer that Grinstead had been "the most popular coach in Milan's history." While Grinstead's successor, Marvin Wood, would initially make some waves in Milan, he was never the target of a town meeting to have him fired, as Norman Dale was in the movie. In his first season as coach in 1952–53, he would lead Milan to the state semifinals, defusing any remaining criticism.
  • Town drunk
The town drunk character in the movie, Wilbur "Shooter" Flatch, is the father of one of the members of the team, and becomes one of the assistant coaches. He has no Milan counterpart.
  • The previous coach
In the movie, Hickory's best player initially refuses to play, devastated by the sudden death of his previous coach. This has no parallel in the Milan story; as noted above, Milan's previous coach had been fired two years before their championship.
  • The manager
A Hickory player, Ollie MacFarlane, plays in one game when the Huskers have no other players left, and sinks two free throws to win a key game. Milan had a manager with a similar name, Oliver Jones, but he never played.
  • The school song
The school song played twice in the Hickory/Linton game is not Milan's, but Manchester High School's located in North Manchester, Indiana. Filmakers wanted to use it because it was one of the few original school songs in Indiana. The song was composed by former Manchester High School band and Manchester Civic Band director Harold Leckrone.[5]
  • Underdog status
Hickory is depicted as a massive underdog throughout the movie. Milan entered the 1953–54 season as one of the favorites to win the state title, as it returned four starters from the state semifinalists of 1952–53.
  • Close tournament finishes
In the movie, Hickory wins each of its tournament games by two points or less. In 1954, Milan won seven of its eight tournament games leading up to the final by double-digit margins, and the other by 8 points.
  • Head coaches
In the film, Norman Dale is a middle-aged former college coach with a shady past and a volatile temper, and has a romantic relationship with a fellow Hickory teacher. Milan coach Marvin Wood, who died of bone cancer in 1999, was only 26, and married with two children, when Milan won the state title, and had coached the Indians to the 1953 state semifinals. By almost all reports, Wood was a soft-spoken man of high integrity who often practiced alongside his players.
  • The championship game opponent
In the state championship scene, the movie portrays South Bend Central High School (chosen presumably because Milan had lost to South Bend Central in the 1953 state semifinals) as a predominantly black team. The real team was from Muncie Central High School, which had a predominantly white team with three black members. The movie probably borrowed from the actual history of the 1954 semistate final (state quarterfinals), in which Milan defeated the segregated Crispus Attucks High School in Indianapolis, led by all-time great Oscar Robertson, then a sophomore. In the movie, the South Bend Central coach is played by Ray Crowe, who coached Crispus Attucks in 1954 and would, the next year, lead the team to become the first all-black team in the United States to win a state championship playing against schools with white players. The Attucks team, with Crowe as coach and Robertson as floor leader, would repeat as state champions in 1956, becoming the first undefeated team in Indiana high school history.


There were other connections between the movie and real life. The announcer of the championship game in the movie was Hilliard Gates, whose voice was familiar to Indiana high school basketball fans of the 1950s and '60s. The legendary announcer Tom Carnegie played the role of the public address announcer during the final championship game at Hinkle Fieldhouse. Ray Craft also has a role in the film, welcoming the Huskers to Butler Fieldhouse as they get off the bus for the championship game.

Behind the scenes

During filming on location at Hinkle Fieldhouse at Butler University, directors were unable to secure enough extras for shooting the final scenes even after casting calls through the Indianapolis media. To help fill the stands, they invited two local high schools to move a game to the Fieldhouse. Broad Ripple and Chatard obliged, and crowd shots were filmed during their actual game. Fans of both schools came out in period costumes to serve as extras and to supplement the hundreds of locals who had answered the call. At halftime and following the game, actors took to the court to shoot footage of the "state championship" scenes, including the game-winning shot by Hickory.

Speculation exists that the character of Norman Dale was named for Norm Ellenberger, whose middle name is Dale. A longtime assistant coach for Bob Knight at Indiana, he once played basketball for coach Tony Hinkle at Butler.

The film's producers chose New Richmond, Indiana to serve as the fictional town of Hickory, and recorded most of the film's location shots in and around the community. Signs on the roads into New Richmond still recall its role in the film.

See also


  1. ^ American Film Institute (2008-06-17). "AFI Crowns Top 10 Films in 10 Classic Genres". ComingSoon.net. http://www.comingsoon.net/news/movienews.php?id=46072. Retrieved 2008-06-18. 
  2. ^ "Top 10 Sports". American Film Institute. http://www.afi.com/10top10/sports.html. Retrieved 2008-06-18. 
  3. ^ http://www.milan54.org Milan '54 Museum
  4. ^ http://www.njsiaa.org/tournaments/2009/10basketdates.pdf
  5. ^ Hoosiers (1986) - Trivia

External links


Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikiquote

Hoosiers is a 1986 film about "a volatile coach and a former star player-turned alcoholic leading a small-town basketball team on an improbable run to the Indiana high school championship game."[1]

Directed by David Anspaugh and written by Angelo Pizzo.
The film is loosely based on the story of the 1954 Indiana state champions, Milan High School.
They needed a second chance to finish first.


Coach Norman Dale

  • If you put your effort and concentration into playing to your potential, to be the best that you can be, I don't care what the scoreboard says at the end of the game, in my book we're gonna be winners.
  • [to Jimmy Chitwood] You know, in the ten years that I coached, I never met anybody who wanted to win as badly as I did. I'd do anything I had to do to increase my advantage. Anybody who tried to block the pursuit of that advantage, I'd just push 'em out of the way. Didn't matter who they were, or what they were doing. But that was then. You have special talent, a gift. Not the school's, not the townspeople, not the team's, not Myra Fleener's, not mine. It's yours, to do with what you choose. Because that's what I believe, I can tell you this: I don't care if you play on the team or not.
  • Stick with your man. Think of him as chewing gum. By the end of the game, I want you to know what flavor he is.

Opal Fleener

  • [to Coach Dale] Sun don't shine on the same dog's ass every day, but, mister you ain't seen a ray of light since you got here.


Coach Dale: You know, if everyone is as nice as you, country hospitality is gonna get an awful name.
Myra Fleener: What a pleasant thing to say.

[Strap is continuing his prayer as the team gets ready to leave the locker room]
Coach Dale: Strap? [to Rade] How long is he going to go on like this?
Rade Butcher: I don't know. He'll come when he's ready, not before.
Coach Dale: Hopefully that'll be sometime before tip-off.

Coach Dale: First of all, let's be real friendly here, okay? My name is Norm. Secondly, your coaching days are over.
George: Look, mister, there's... two kinds of dumb, uh... guy that gets naked and runs out in the snow and barks at the moon, and, uh, guy who does the same thing in my living room. First one don't matter, the second one you're kinda forced to deal with.
Coach Dale: Translate. That some sort of threat?
George: I don't know why Cletus drug your tired old bones in here, he musta owed you somethin' fierce. Fact is, mister, you start screwin' up this team, I'll personally hide-strap your ass to a pine rail and send you up the Monon Line!
[George angrily turns and storms out of the gym]
Coach Dale: Leave the ball, will you, George? [to himself] OK, let's see what kind of hand I've been dealt.

Coach Dale: [as Rade gets up to check in the first game after Merle fouls out, even though Coach Dale has benched him] Where are you going? [Rade, puzzled, looks at him] Sit down.
Rade Butcher: You gotta have five out there!
Coach Dale: Sit... down.
Referee: You need one more, coach.
Coach Dale: My team is on the floor.

Myra Fleener: A man your age comes to a place like this, either he's running away from something or he has nowhere else to go.
Coach Dale: What I'm doing here has nothing to do with you.
Myra Fleener: Just stay away from Jimmy. I don't want him coaching in Hickory when he's fifty.

Myra Fleener: [about Jimmy Chitwood] You know, a basketball hero around here is treated like a god, er, uh, how can he ever find out what he can really do? I don't want this to be the high point of his life. I've seen them, the real sad ones. They sit around the rest of their lives talking about the glory days when they were seventeen years old.
Coach Dale: You know, most people would kill... to be treated like a god, just for a few moments.



  1. Johnson, David S., "Hoosiers (1986) – Plot summary", Internet Movie Database, 2006-07-12. URL accessed on 05-30-2008.

External links

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Up to date as of January 14, 2010

Definition from Wiktionary, a free dictionary




  1. Plural form of Hoosier.


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