For those of us whose sports fandom is largely limited to baseball and football, these next few weeks are pretty rough, with the Super Bowl over and Spring Training games yet to begin. But just over the horizon lies March Madness, a sporting event so awesome that even basketball-neutral folks like myself can obsess over it for a few weekends. To start whetting the appetite for tournament hoops, at 8:30 p.m. Eastern tonight HDNet Movies will be showing Hoosiers, which is easily in the Top 2* basketball movies ever made (non-documentary division). Gene Hackman gives a quietly commanding performance as Coach Norman Dale, a temperamental tactician who gets an undermanned small-town Indiana high school team—an and alcoholic coach played by an Oscar-nominated Dennis Hopper—to buy into his disciplined, defense-oriented system. A prototypical sports drama, Hoosier earns its uplifting moments the same way that Hickory High earns its wins: by playing the game the right way, with intelligence and integrity.
(*White Men Can’t Jump is number one, in case you were wondering.)