If you’ve been inside Hilton Coliseum in the past week, you may have noticed something- something that may have caught many of you off guard. It starts with a buzz and then quickly grows to a roar. You may even notice the hairs on the back of you neck standing up just a bit. There’s been a hint of electricity that has returned to the atmosphere inside of that majestic concrete structure at the corner of Lincoln Way and University Boulevard. Could that be what some of us think it is?
By now you probably know what I’m about to ask, so I’ll just get on with it. Is the Magic returning to Hilton? To answer that question, I think we first need to define what the Magic really is. Some have argued that it would never return- that it was, in fact, dead. These folks are the ones that I would categorize as the traditionalists- the ‘Keepers of the Magic’. They define Hilton Magic as those memorable happenings where an underdog Cyclone squad is willed to victory by the energy and atmosphere generated by a frenzied crowd.
While I agree that these are the very circumstances that created the Magic in the first place, I refuse to believe that these are the only circumstances under which the Magic can exist. And, frankly, if Iowa State needs to be the perennial underdog for the Magic to be present, I’ll go ahead and pass. I’d rather cheer for a talented team that’s expected to win on their home court more often than not. But it’s a moot point, as I believe you can define Hilton Magic in more generic terms.
In my mind, there is a modern-day Magic, which is more about an electric atmosphere than an overachieving underdog. Of course I’m not talking about just any college basketball atmosphere, but one that is feared by opponents, respected by the national media, and cherished by the Cyclone fans and players. We’ve had that, even without the underdog status. I respect the Keepers of the Magic and their borderline stubbornness when it comes to applying the Hilton Magic tag to anything beyond its original roots. Those were special times in Cyclone basketball history, but this Cyclone fan is unwilling to declare dead something that we all take such great pride in.
For those who were in Hilton this past week, did you not sense a hint of something special in air? Granted, it was fleeting. But, even with a team sitting in last place in the conference, there were glimpses of an arena and its inhabitants that are clawing their way up off of the canvas. Cyclone fans are hungry, and our once-feared coliseum is ready to explode again. Look no further than this year’s attendance figures, where Iowa State trails only two Big 12 schools- perennial powers, Kansas and Texas.
Cyclone fans believe in Fred Hoiberg and the future of Cyclone basketball. This team plays an exciting brand of basketball and they never stop fighting, which, combined with improved talent, are two ingredients that will eventually lead to the rebirth of Cyclone basketball and Hilton Magic. That rebirth is nowhere near complete, and it may not be completed next season, even with the debut of the All-Transfer Team. But it will happen. Believe it.