Tourney draw still exciting to radio show host

If it involves a basketball, four weekends in March and a win-or-go-home mindset, longtime Franklin resident Bob Lovell is a fan.

So much so that the host of Sunday’s boys tournament draw on the IHSAA Champions Network freely admits to experiencing the same pre-draw nerves he did as a kid.

In those days every ounce of bracket suspense revolved around his beloved Plainfield Quakers (Class of 1969, thank you).

Today it’s because of, well, pretty much everyone.

“Obviously, I care about my alma mater, and I live here in Franklin and care about the teams here. But after so many years I know so many coaches and programs around the state,” said Lovell, who since 1994 has been host of “Indiana Sports Talk,” which airs Friday and Saturday nights on 40 radio affiliates throughout Indiana during the high school basketball season.

“The pairings shows I do with football and both (girls and boys) basketball are the three most intense nights of the year because the volume of information I have to deal with,” Lovell said. “And I have to get it right, and have to kind of know what I’m doing.

“Certainly there’s pressure.”

Sunday’s tourney draw will be Web-streamed live on and aired on the Champions Network’s 37 radio affiliates beginning at 3:30 p.m.

“I love this time of year because this weekend we’re going to have girls semistates, so you’ll have eight teams having magical nights,” Lovell said. “And then you’re going to have boys teams in that part of the season where they’re just getting ready for the tournament.

“I know that on Sunday nearly 400 schools and their fans around the state are going to be on their computers, or we hope on the air listening to us do all these things. How do you not get excited knowing you’re right in the middle of all of that?”

And yet there are those people.

Some of the state’s older and middle-aged basketball fans harbor lingering resentment about Indiana’s highly controversial switch to a four-class tournament system 19 years ago.

Lovell understands, but then again doesn’t. It’s been nearly two decades, and the coaching and talent in Indiana is as good as it’s ever been.

Maybe better.

“I tend to think the pronouncements of the death of high school basketball are premature,” he said. “I get a chance to talk about a lot of games. And when coaches call, they talk about jam-packed gymnasiums, and you can tell in their voices how excited they are. March is just a magical time for us. Certainly, things are different, without question. But I still think there’s an incredible amount of excitement for basketball, and sectional week is one of those magical weeks.

“Who doesn’t remember when they were in high school and what that was all about? That still goes on all over our state.”

In Muncie on Sunday, they’ll be nervously awaiting word on what draw the Bearcats got the same way Rushville fans will when it comes to their beloved Lions and New Palestine residents will with their Dragons.

Then there’s Bob Lovell, who desires for all 398 Indiana boys basketball teams to get a favorable draw.

Mike Beas is a sports writer for the Daily Journal. He can be reached at