The script’s title page includes a quote from Indiana-born author Kurt Vonnegut: “A Hoosier talks basketball for an hour after he is dead and has stopped breathing.” The title page also says “The following is based on a true story.”
The final shooting script has 122 scenes.
The screenplay begins and ends with “bookend” images of a framed team photograph; each one shows a team Norman has led to a championship.
Earlier in his career, Norman coached the Ithaca Warriors, a national-championship junior college team.
Norman moved to Hickory from Baltimore.
Hickory is described as being 30 miles north of Linton and 60 miles from Jasper. This would place Hickory in either Clay or Owen County, in the southwest part of Indiana.
Coach Tidd, Norman’s predecessor, was at Hickory for 22 years.
Before the 1951–52 season, Hickory won the sectional in 1931, 1932, and 1941. No school from Hickory’s sectional has ever won the regional.
Hickory High’s colors are blue and gold.
Grades 1 through 12 have about 150 kids.
At the second practice, Norman tells the Huskers, “Five players make one functioning unit. Five pistons powering one machine, no one more important than the other.” After that, whenever the coach and team form a circle and put their outstretched hands in the center, they say, “Machine!”
The Huskers are described as follows:
Jimmy Chitwood is “a taut, angular boy.”
Rade Butcher is “the class talker, known for his frequent departures from reality.”
Whit is Rade’s brother and “in a word, dumb.”
Merle Webb, “at 6′0″, the tallest and best player,” is “afraid he’ll miss the Korean War.”
Everett Flatch is “built like a rock and about as conversant.”
Strap Lester is the “son of a Pentecostal preacher, not a proselytizer himself” and “smiles a lot for no apparent reason.”
Buddy Wampner is “George’s son, good looking, cocky and a great ball handler.” (George is the troublemaking Hickory resident who tries to lead the first practice of the season.)
Ollie McPike is “short, frenetic and always there.”
In later script revisions, Strap Lester became Strap Purl, and Buddy Wampner became Buddy Walker. Ollie McPike is called Ollie McClellan in other versions of the screenplay.
Team member Buddy is cheerleader Loetta’s boyfriend. But she becomes annoyed and breaks up with him when he transfers to Terhune. This relationship is hinted at in the deleted scene on the Collector’s Edition and 2012 Blu-ray DVDs in which Buddy explains why he wants to rejoin the team.
Loetta calls her father, Cletus, Pa.
Cletus is described as a small, wiry old man with wire-rimmed glasses and full, white, slicked-backed hair.
Cletus and Norman knew each other in 1931 at Buffalo State Teachers College.
Jimmy plays the position of guard.
The original story contains more scenes of tension and antagonism between Norman and Myra than are shown in the movie. The Huskers initially are more disrespectful toward Norman as well.
Myra tells Norman she attended college in Greencastle (this would be DePauw University) and went to graduate school in Indianapolis. She had hoped to become a college professor.
The movie shows some of the scenes in a different order from how they appear in the script:
In the movie, Norman approaches Jimmy at the outdoor court and tells him he doesn’t care if he rejoins the team. Then Norman enters the school, where Myra tells him why she doesn’t want Jimmy to play basketball. In the original script, the order of these two scenes is reversed. Changing the order of these scenes in the movie alters the meaning a bit. As originally written, it seems as though Myra succeeds in convincing Norman to leave Jimmy alone. As filmed, it’s Norman’s own idea to go out and speak his mind to Jimmy. And when Myra sees them talking, she assumes that Norman is trying to pressure Jimmy into playing basketball.
In the script, the scene with Norman and Myra going for a walk and then kissing comes before the regional game, not after.
In the script, Everett visits Shooter in the hospital before Norman faces a group of reporters in the gym.
The caravan scene, in which vehicles line up in downtown Hickory to travel to the state finals, was to appear in the film before the Huskers arrive at Butler Fieldhouse. A snippet of this scene instead ended up in a montage.
Many names of opposing teams were changed in script revisions. Loogootee became Lyons (in real life, Loogootee’s mascot is the Lions, and Hickory Husker Wade Schenck was from Lyons), Aurora became Holland, Columbus became Bloomington, Rising Sun became Paragon, Sunville became Terhune, Jasper became Linton, and Gary Roosevelt became South Bend Central.
An early draft of the screenplay included a game of donkey basketball.
The original script describes Hickory defeating three opponents at the sectional before facing Sunville in the final game. This footage of the early sectional games ended up in a montage.
One of the opposing players at the regional game is named Billy Rayl.
Before everyone heads to the state finals, Myra mentions that she hasn’t been back to Indianapolis since she attended graduate school there.
Four South Bend Central team members are named: Delmar Roberts, Bill Bonham, Willie Henderson, and Alton Ligon.