CONNERSVILLE, Ind. (WISH) - To learn more about Butler Bulldog star forward Matt Howard,24-Hour News 8 visited his home in Connersville, about anhour-and-a-half drive east of Indianapolis.
There, Howard's story of hardwood glory started on concrete,with a weathered hoop above the family driveway.
"As you can tell the rim is a little oblong from falling over.But we got the ball in there somehow," recalled Matt's brother, TimHoward. "This is where we beat on each other. Lot of fun."
Tim Howard is now a coach, and has no doubt thoserough-and-tumble driveway games helped shape Matt's currentsuccess.
Their parents say the good-natured games could cause sometension at the time, though; Linda Howard laughs as she recalls herfirst concern. "First I looked for blood and bruises," shesaid.
Stan Howard smiles as he talks about the reaction from theyoungest of five boys: "Matt would come in, slam the door, and goto his room. Then it would be a minute or two and one of thebrothers would come in and say 'Well, What'd he tell you?' I'd say,"Nothing. Didn't tell me anything. He's mad!" They'd say, 'Wellwe're not going to baby him!'"
"And the more he progressed the more we had to beat on him tofind a way for him not to score," said Tim.
The Howards have 10 children in all. The family describes MattHoward (number 8 of the 10) as a typical teenage boy.
"Everybody around here remembers Matt as their paper boy," saidStan. "Launchin' hook shots on to their porches, you know!"
Matt Howard claims to be the most boring of stars.
"I’m not really that cool," he said. "You can ask anyonewho knows me really well."
But if quirky can be cool, Howard has that covered. Halfwaythrough our visit to the Howard home in Connersville, little sisterLaura got a text from Matt telling her to "stop toffing."
Turns out Matt Howard has his own language.
Family members say he likes to swap around letters in commonwords.
"There’s a song that says 'miniskirt' and he always says'skinnymert'," said Laura Howard. "If he said 'take a shower', he'dsay 'shake a tower' instead.
The Howards say they don't remember how Hoda (Matt's familynickname) started his strange dialect, but it's caught onfamily-wide.
Matt's unconventional facial hair has an even wideraudience.
There are at least two Facebook pages devoted to his new,tourney-time mustache. But his father jokes that he's notimpressed.
"To me if you can’t see it, it ain’t whiskers,"laughed Stan. "I haven't seen it yet. If you have to strain to seeit, it ain't whiskers."
Mom, Linda Howard, says of her son's mustache, "If that's theworst they can find to talk about, that's pretty good. That's thething about Butler. It's clean. It's clean."
As for the 'mop on top', the Howards say Matt only cuts hisfamously floppy hairdo once a year, and only lets teammate andfriend Zach Hahn, wield the scissors.
Whether you call it all quirky, cool, or anything else -between the silly stories and the on-court success, the Howardfamily could not be prouder of child number 8 of 10 and of theother 9, who helped shape the young man Matt Howard isbecoming.
Stan Howard recalled, "There was a time I remember someone inhigh school was quoted as saying "Don't bother him. He's a Howard,and there are lots of them. And they stick together."
Tim Howard is impressed with the time his brother takes withyoungsters from his hometown, saying. "Any time he comes back, he'sgot a line of kids up the Spartan Bowl stairs, waiting forsignatures and stuff like that."
"My family has been great," said Matt. "They like to keep mehumble, and very deservingly so."
Interstate 70 east near Interstate 465 was reopened Tuesday evening after a crash blocked all lanes around 6:30 p.m.
If you're looking for something to do over the next seven days you may want to check out Bankers Life Fieldhouse.
On Tuesday, Indianapolis Police Chief Rick Hite will promote 23 officers. Three sergeants will be elevated to the rank of lieutenant. Twenty patrol officers will be promoted to the rank of sergeant.