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From Indianapolis’ Hinkle Fieldhouse to Bloomington’s Assembly Hall, from Milan High’s bandbox to the Final Four-ready RCA Dome, Indiana is home to countless legendary basketball venues. But the state’s passion for hoops isn’t limited to formal games played in front of hundreds or thousands of fans. Sometimes, the best basketball is played when few—if any—are watching.
Earlier this year, photographer Elijah Hurwitz set out to capture Indiana basketball in places “where it offers a way out of boredom or a way out of town. Where it offers a way to build bonds and rivalries. And often, where it’s simply a way to pass the time when there’s nothing else to do.” In his rich, intimate shots of driveway pickup, prison ball, and the state’s intensely loyal fanbase, Hurwitz illustrates the state’s hoops passion, which he first experienced as an undergraduate at Indiana University. As it happens, this year’s Hoosiers have returned to their place among the nation’s top programs, reaching No. 1 for the first time in 20 years—and giving a new generation of Indianans a team to emulate and obsess over for years to come.
Three Amish siblings in Goshen shoot hoops in the backyard of their farm house as laundry dries. There are nine brothers and sisters in all, and their father is a horseshoe blacksmith.
Indiana State Prison inmates cheer for their teammates during a scrimmage against a local college. Because it’s a maximum security prison, only inmates on good behavior are allowed to participate.
The prison team huddles between plays, coached by fellow inmate “Teddy” in the green hat.
An inmate soars for a dunk at the prison yards, originally constructed when Abraham Lincoln was president.
Zach and Chad pose in front of their home hoop in Bowling Green while younger brother Cameron plays in the yard.
A field in Shelbyville
Two brothers practice in front of their roadside home in Bremen.
A girl shoots on a makeshift basket in a rough section of Gary, the former murder capital of the United States.
Friends use a football to play a game of horse in Michigan City. Their basketball was stolen by someone in the neighborhood.
A boy whose LaGrange house doesn’t have a basketball hoop practices his shooting form.
A front yard in Wabash
Ward gives a haircut at his Bloomington barbershop. The walls display nearly every IU basketball schedule back to 1980s.
A Washington welcome sign
Jack Butcher, the all-time-winningest Indiana high school basketball coach, at his home. On the wall are framed pictures of his three sons, all of whom he coached.
A statue of Larry Bird in a parking lot in his hometown, French Lick. Bird went on to win NBA championships with the Boston Celtics, play for the Olympic team, and coach the Indiana Pacers.
Ticket takers at IU’s Assembly Hall await eager fans at the first game of the season.
A father and son await the first game of the Hoosiers’ season from the top-most row of Assembly Hall (capacity 17,472).
The Hoosiers huddle before their first game. Ranked No. 1 for the first time in 20 years under coach Tom Crean, expectations are high this season.
Michigan City, Indiana
South Bend, Indiana