IU Insider Blog: It could have been a tragedy

After Tuesday night's press conference at Assembly Hall to talk about the metal that fell from the ceiling earlier in the day, I stood on the court and couldn't help but to think about 'What if?'. This truly was a tragedy that was averted.

The thought kept going through my head.

What if?

What if that chunk of metal that came cascading down from the ceiling Tuesday afternoon at Assembly Hall had come loose at say 9 or 10 p.m. Tuesday night instead?

What if Assembly Hall had been filled to capacity instead of sitting empty like it was Tuesday afternoon?

What if instead of it falling where it did along one of the rows, it came down sideways and knocked out several rows?

What if?

It's too bad that Indiana and Iowa weren't able to play as scheduled Tuesday night in a nationally televised game at Assembly Hall.

But in the grand scheme of things, Indiana should simply be thankful today that the chunk of metal came down when it did. Can you imagine what the scene could have been like had there been people in those seats?

I love covering sporting events. It is my life's work. But that could have been unlike any game I had ever covered. That could have been catastrophic.

Myself, when I first heard about it I thought to myself it seemed like a big deal was being made out of a relatively small event. It had damaged four or five seats out of 17,472.

And then I watched that video. Watching that sheet of metal measuring 7 feet long, 12 inches wide, 3/8 of an inch thick cast iron, weighing approximately 60 pounds come crashing down on those seats was horrifying. Allow your mind to drift off an imagine the possibilities and, well, we should all just be thankful that it happened when it happened.

It sounds like it wasn't a structural issue. At least that's what the preliminary reports seemed to indicate. They said the metal sheets were actually ornamental and can all technically be removed. They said the snow and ice simply put so much weight on that area that it finally popped.

Again, when I first heard the report, I thought we had maybe seen our last game at Assembly Hall this season. I thought to myself that any inspection would probably take weeks to complete. If the Hall was not structurally sound, they weren't going to take any chances.

But then after hearing what was said in the press conference, the plans are to play the Indiana-Michigan women's game in Assembly Hall on Wednesday night. IU athletic director Fred Glass said it could be with full seating or limited seating. A lot depended on what happens when workers inspect the damage using a cherry-picker piece of machinery.

If that's the case and no other more significant damage is reported, one would certainly think that IU would play its next home game, March 2 against Ohio State, as scheduled. Again, after watching that video the first time, I thought the chances of that were remote at best.

The bigger challenge will be when to makeup the IU-Iowa game. There doesn't seem to be any real easy solutions there at a first glance of the schedule.

But again that's the one little minor inconvenience of what transpired Tuesday afternoon at Assembly Hall.

All of the serious stuff was avoided. All of the ‘What if' scenarios never came to fruition.

Instead, they simply were unable to play a game of basketball.

Indiana really dodged quite a bullet here when you think about it in those terms.

Follow Terry Hutchens at Twitter.com/Foxsportshutch


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