The Butler Bulldogs of 2010, and 2011, are the greatest sports story since the Miracle on Ice.
If you want a team that embodies everything that is right in sports – especially when every day seems to deliver another eye rolling news story in the other direction – then this is it.
Butler isn’t just a feel good team, in a feel good tournament. It’s a palate cleanser for the cheating, stealing, and police blotter filling that occupies way too much of the modern sports page.
How does a 4,200 student school, knife fight its way through heavily armed toughs of “major” college basketball to make the Final Four?
Twice? The second time without their first – and likely only – NBA lottery pick?
You kidding me?
I’m not picking against Butler any more in this tournament. They’ve come back to finish the job. And I know destiny when it keeps punching me in the face.
I heard this a lot last year: “Man, did you see how close that final shot from Butler came to going in from half court? What a story that would have been!”
Yeah. Whatever. THIS story, is going to be even better.
The games this week were fantastic. In fact, so good, they almost looked scripted.
The one thing that kills me, though, is how poorly these tournament teams execute in the final 30 seconds or less.
The crowning blunder, was Leonard Hamilton going “Corporal Upham” at the end of regulation for Florida State against VCU. To have that much time, and to have TWO timeouts, and to just let his guys “figure it out” on the last play?
Good god, man. What do they PAY YOU for?
Chris Knoche, former D1 coach at American University and now color analyst for Maryland radio, likes to joke about how good Florida State looks sometimes, before adding “ but then luckily Leonard Hamilton stepped off the bus.”
I would usually chide him for that little rough elbow from one coach to another, but not anymore. Wow.
The other “play” that most teams seemed to run when they had the ball and needed a game winner, was the “I’ll pull up from 26 feet and jack it” play.
Which, as you know, is not a “play.”
Funny because, that shot during the normal run of the game, would get a player benched. “What the hell was that!?”
But to win the game, it somehow becomes their #1 option.
Duke’s evisceration at the hands of the Wildcats is more than just a loss. I think it’s a repudiation of the Duke style, a style that is going to be less and less effective at making a run at Final Fours in the coming years.
Basically, you can’t just have good guards, space, shoot threes and run.
Well, you can from November through February. And you’re going to win a ton of games.
But in the tournament, this style is an easy mark for another program with front court NBA talent. Like Arizona. It doesn’t matter how many Plumlees you bring to the party.
There is size, and then there is what I like to call “white size”, which is “not exactly.” Looks good in the airport, but you can’t count on a suburban 6-11 prep schooler to make big plays for you when it matters.
Duke has for years, had too much “white size” instead of NBA caliber bigs. Yes, I know that Boozer and Brand were lottery picks, but other than that….? Coach K needs to get back on that recruiting horse, and bring some home.
How did I do gambling in Vegas? Best trip ever.
Thursday night, had the following:
Big Play: $500 Butler – plus points over Wisconsin. Easy W!
Other Plays: $100 each on SDSU (L)/Over (W), UF (W)/Over (W), But/WI Over (L), AZ (W)/Under (L).
Friday night, had the following:
Big Play: $500 VCU – plus points over Florida State. Big win!
Other Plays: $100 each on UNC (W), OSU (L), Richmond (L).
Saturday had the following:
Butler: ML over Florida $50 (paid $90) and UConn -3 (L).
All in all, I’ve never had a trip where every “window session” so to speak, was a winner. Each time I went to the window with picks, I came back on the plus side. Nice.
And well, then, I seem to recall throwing away about $300 of those winnings at the Riviera blackjack pit, with two different teams of go-go dancers helping to distract me from playing my hand, not to mention some of the worst blackjack rules you’ve ever seen! Blackjack pays just 7-5 and you can’t take “even money” on your 21 before the dealer looks at the hole card. Also, can’t re-split cards, or double down on anything but 10 and 11.
Sheesh. Did we lose a war or something?