Can Butler Pull it Off?


Well, before we start with tonight’s national championship game, I suppose I should mention the results of the 3-Putt Territory NCAA Pool.  For the second, shameful year in a row, the outcome of the National Title Game will not factor into who wins our pool.  Have to admit that takes some of the fun out of it, but my fun is usually sapped by opening Friday.  The final results are…(Gus, send your gift card request to my email, expect 4 to 6 weeks for delivery.)

  1. Only Watch for Gus Johnson–100 points
  2. Moonlight Graham — 82 points
  3. JNix– 79 points
  4. Fred Couples — 76 points
  5. Rand — 73 points

Ok, so the game.  This game feels like a lock for Connecticut.  We’ve been here before.  Yogi Berra once said something about situations like this.  It’d be hard to argue that Butler has a better chance this year without their NBA prospect Gordon Heyward, but I think that probably is the case.  The complete lack of any dominant team in college basketball means the big names are far more vulnerable, whether you have your own stars or not.  And, Butler has guys playing well, which for tonight will be all that matters.  UConn is riding this incredible streak, though, and it feels about as close to destiny as you can get for a team coached by the often loathed, Jim Calhoun.  They’ve now run off 10 straight tournament wins.

The only reason I am going to write what I am about to write is that I am fairly certain that no Butler reads this blog.  If they did, I wouldn’t risk the jinx, but I think Butler wins this game.  You can take your 3 points (seems a bit low, doesn’t it?) and put them in your pocket.  This is the year it is all going to come together for the underdog.  We’re due.  It’s going to be a program defining win for Butler and something they’ll be trading off of…possibly forever.

It’s quite a phenomenon in sports when the little guy wins something.  It kicks off an incredible grace period and a period of misconception by your casual fan.  It’s kind of like how Villanova became a perpetual tournament sleeper after 1985.  I don’t remember them having any real success after that for a long time, but you’d always hear about Rollie having the boys ready to sneak up on someone in the big dance.

The same thing happened to the scout who found Fernando Valenzuela.  This is a story that kicks around the baseball world.  It’s a pretty standard tale, the scout looking for the one great prospect in the nowhere town…they’ve made multiple movies about it.  But anyway, the Dodgers had this guy Mike Brito who scouted the Mexican leagues.  He pretty much fell ass backwards into Valenzuela, but after that signing and Fernando-mania, the guy became a star.  He was most recognized scout in the league.  He was an instant expert on all Mexican and Latin American players.  It didn’t matter if he ever found another player (and some people would probably say he didn’t) he was always the guy who found Fernando.

I’m sure you could think of other examples.  I’m sure Matt Stairs will achieve a minute version of that in Philly for his NLCS home run.  He’ll always be that guy, regardless of his pedestrian career.  For Butler and Brad Stevens a win would have an incredible impact on how the program and the coach are perceived for maybe the next decade (two decades?). It’s reasonable to think that Butler will suffer a drop off here in the near future.  They are still Butler, and no one can go to the Final Four every year.  I wouldn’t be surprised if Butler isn’t in the tournament in a couple of years, but if they cut the nets tonight, it will always be, “Remember that 2011 Butler team?”

People will be picking Butler as a sleeper in their pools 10 years from now because of tonight if they win.  Brad Stevens will forever have a reputation as a tournament assassin if they win tonight.  It doesn’t matter what happens next.  He could go to the Big-10, totally fail, and end up back in the Horizon League, but he’ll always have that one thing to point to.  It’s a lot of pressure when you think about it.  I have a feeling the Bulldogs might get it done tonight.

Quiz of the Day:  Countries By Cuisine.  Category: You ate what, now?  My Score: 14/23.

Talk about not my specialty.  I think I’ve had about 3 things on this list, and they might all be alcohol.  All you cultured aristocrats should best me on this one.



16 thoughts on “Can Butler Pull it Off?

  1. Pulling for butler big time…I will say that butler’s pg Shelvin Mack is wildly underrated. No one talks about him, but he’s been on the USA select team (which basically means the coaches and the selection committee think he is one of the 3 best pt guards in college basketball). Matt Howard is pretty good as well. They have legitimately good players.
    If you are a young kid growing up in Indiana today, why wouldn’t you go to butler? The last time IU was any good in my lifetime they had Calbert Cheaney and Alan Henderson?

    • Matt Howard reminds me of the guy who shows up at the “Y” in rec specs, high shorts and a knee/ankle brace, gets involved in a two on two pick up game and starts diving on the floor, setting strong blind picks, throwing elbows, leaning on you, just being generally way too enthusiastic and “hustle” for a little two on two. Last night ever time i looked up the guy was on the ground, always getting up limping, WAH.

      • I think the Y might be in his future at some point.

        i’ve never seen more people go up for a shot expecting to get blocked.

        was 1984 pat ewing the building?

      • The Smith guy had it the worst, bricking layups, wild turn around line drives from 2 feet, just ugly.

        Also, is there a rule in college basketball that if you’re a white guy playing defense and you fall backwards it’s an automatic charge? Howard took a “charge” at one point where he had one foot in the air mid step.

      • I agree that that shouldn’t have been a traditional charge because Howard wasn’t set. But I thought it was still an offensive foul because the UConn player — I can’t remember whether it was Smith or Walker — tucked his shoulder and pushed into Howard. I’m not explaining this articulately but I thought the foul was called on the offensive player for pushing off the defensive player; it was not a traditional charge.

      • If definitely was an offensive foul on that drive (the big from Uconn dropped his shoulder, i know exactly the play you’re talking about), but i also didn’t think the charge they called on Walker two plays before was a charge at all. It’s such a bang-bang play, but when i watched the replay i didn’t think Howard was set at all on either.

      • The one you’re talking about though was definitely an offensive foul. That big animal looked like Bettis going for the goal line, good lord.

  2. Well . . . Indiana did play in the 2002 championship game against Maryland. How could you forget Tom Coverdale?

    Not saying it was a great team . . . but playing in the championship must qualify as “any good.”

  3. What about AJ “chips” a-moye?

    They had a good run that year but it was kind of a fluke.

    I think most talent just wants out of Indiana. They aren’t going to IU and I doubt many of them go to Butler.

  4. I’m sort of proud of my third place showing in the pool this year! And yes Grossy that was a reallllllly ugly half. Yikes.

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