March 6, 2002 - Mudbug Madness

It's time for March Madness - and the state that invented it has sent some very young basketball ambassadors to the Bayou State. As Hoosier-in-residence, I greeted the kids in Thibodaux, and sent them home with a spicy story to tell.

When they came up with the phrase "Hoosier Hysteria," kids squirming and screaming over a platter of mudbugs is not what they had in mind. Basketball is what they had in mind, and the Hoosier hoopsters arrived from Evansville, Indiana, the state where basketball rules.

They came to Thibodaux, to show kids from all over the USA how the game is supposed to be played in the National Biddy Basketball Championships. The Hoosier All Stars had already clobbered the kids from Kenner when I caught up with them.

Turnabout, I figured, is fair play. If they are going to show Louisiana kids how to play basketball, we are going to show them how to eat crawfish! "Ugh! Oooh! Sick! Arrrr!" The cries went up just as soon as the waiter at Bubba's Seafood and Po-Boys brought out the first platter. "What did you think when they brought them out?" I asked eight-year-old Taylor Williams. "It didn't look good," he said. "Now you've had some, and what do you think?" "It's bad," says Taylor.

When the mudbugs first came out, Hank Larue had made just about the nastiest face I've ever seen. But he became a convert. "I didn't want to eat it, but they're good now." "You didn't want to, but you're now converted." "Yes." But for real moxie, Alex McCune, the first Hoosier to get acquainted with crawfish Cajun style. He actually sucked the head!

In Hollywood, the heroic Hoosiers would have gone on to the championship. But our story has a sad ending. Three hours after their close encounter with crawfish, the Hoosiers lost to the team from Terrebonne Parish. Cayenne is not a staple on the Bobby Knight training table.