A. When they win it all and shut up the TV fools like Charles Barkley.
To his credit he did give them some props, after they beat the real Cinderella Team that the media wanted in the finals for ratings purposes. But before the game and at halftime, Barkley and some of his colleagues just had to keep harping about how VCU would eventually wear Butler down.
It didn't happen.
It hasn't happened in any tourney game in the last two years.
The only game they lost in the last two was the title game against Duke, only by a basket. That's not wearing anyone down and the entire nation watched that last shot from Hayward fly towards that basket, only to be a hair off the mark.
I can understand last year. It was a magical run. And like everyone else, I figured with Hayward leaving for the NBA, it probably wouldn't happen again. I knew the Bulldogs could send some teams home early in heartbreak, shock, and disillusionment. But that would probably be about it.
To their credit, they didn't listen to me. They have been believers in themselves more than anyone else. When they came back against a very good Florida team, I knew they were for real and have the makings of a potential champion. They are proving to the world that were more than just Hayward last year, they are a TEAM. Like one announcer said last night, Butler is good at playing bad. This means they can play badly and still beat you because they never quit, regardless of how they are playing.
Let me tell you (if you are a basketball fan who is not a UConn fan) why you should be for Butler Monday night:
1. They play the game, the way the game should be played.
They have been playing bigger, stronger, teams that are sometimes very physical. These teams have used their sizes and strength to intimidate the smaller Butler team. Basically they have played thugball, but they lost anyway.
Butler is patient and does not give up even when they are down. They pass the ball, spread the court, and do not allow pressure in the back court to get them rattled. If they make a mistake, they forget about it and keep playing on.
2. They put the student back in student athletes.
These guys are smart, all of them. If you meet one and speak to him, you get some damned intelligent conversation about basketball or anything else they are studying. You do not get jive ebonics, or all glory to God speeches.
93% of the current class of Butler freshmen have a 3.0 HS average or above. 50% has a 3.75 or higher.
The focus at this university is clearly on academics, not big money sports. They play in an old fieldhouse that was once the site of the Indiana championship games is years gone by, you may have seen it if you watched the movie Hoosiers. Their enrollment, including grad students, is around 4600.
Most of these guys will truly go pro in something other than basketball.
Forward Matt Howard (son of a postman) has a 3.88 in Financing. Ten of the players on the roster are from the state of Indiana. Shelvin Mack, a junior, is from Lexington Kentucky and may be the only player who has the skills to turn pro. (I bet UK wishes they would have given this kid a closer look, instead of the yo-yos that came and played the required one year, before going into the NBA.)
So unless you are committed to UConn for some reason or are a racist TV analyst, why would you not pull for Butler?
They do this right. They are building a solid program based on scholarship and athletics is a side act.
Brad Stevens gave up a great marketing job at Eli Lilly to pursue his dream of coaching basketball, starting out as a low paying assistant. They gave him a decent raise to stay last year when others were courting him after last year, but it's nothing like Calhoun, Calipari, and others make.
Stevens may eventually jump ship for more money. Who could blame him? If this thing with Tom Crean doesn't work out at IU, we may see Brad being hired as his replacement, down the road. He could make the big time and still stay in Indiana. But if you look at this realistically, he's making it big time right now.
Crean has NC Center Tyler Zeller's brother, Cody, coming in next year. He is also a 7-footer and there will be no excuses to not be competitive. no one expected miracles out of the Hoosiers after Mike Davis and Kelvin Sampson decimated the entire program. But if Crean cannot get the job done and improve this performance, maybe Stevens can. I can only imagine what Brad could do with a strong 7-footer on this Butler team right now.