Thursday, December 2, 2010

Insert "Butler/Game of Clue" Joke here

"The Butler did it!" Can we figure out how many times that phrase (or something along those lines) was said, written, tweeted, texted, etc last March, during the Bulldogs run to the National Championship game?  I'll admit, I did it a few times.

As a self-proclaimed "old-school" basketball person, I was one of the many that enjoyed watching Butler play - not just for the Cinderella story - but because of the way they played the game - fundamentally sound, disciplined, played hard, played smart, and looked like they were genuinely having a blast. A lot of that had to do with Brad Stevens, who we'll get to in a second.

Brad Stevens, one of Daily Onions
favorite college coaches. (Photo courtesy of Associated Press)
I had the opportunity to see the Bulldogs in person last night - as they opened their Horizon League schedule against Loyola University in Chicago.  Sitting three rows from the court at the Gentile Center (basically a juiced up glorified high school gym - with video boards, lights out for starting line-ups and some portable fog machines - so actually, not too bad of a place to see a D1 basketball game).

A few thoughts on Butler, who sneaked out 2-point win:

-This isn't your Gordon Hayward's Butler Team. As expected, Matt Howard and Shelvin Mack do much of the heavy lifting for Butler...and at this point of the season, Butler goes as they go. They have a ways to go to get back to where they were last year.  Playing Duke in a rematch of the Nat'l Championship game in a few days should be a rough go-round. Wouldn't be surprised if Duke won by 25 (reverse psychology - hope Butler can keep it close).
-They definitely missed starting PG Ronald Nored, who has been out w/ post-concussion injuries. They still went 8-9 deep, which should help as the season plays on.
-Was impressed with Zach Hahn -an undersized guard- who drained a couple of threes down the stretch to hold off Loyola's numerous runs.
-I recognized Pete Myers in the crowd, a Bulls scout, who was most likely there to check out Mack.
-Khyle Marshall has huge "upside potential". Athletic as heck (as seen in his alley-oop dunk - the only dunk of the game), agressive, a little raw, but looked like he had a decent touch around the rim. Hope to see more of him as the season goes on.

If you don't like Brad Stevens, you shouldn't like basketball. Probably my new favorite coach in the college game. Great watching him in person on the sideline. Extremely calm, and positive with his players - even when things didn't go their way. He never seemed to get flustered. I know Butler locked him up for 12 years (seriously), but I really hope he does stay there for a while. After seeing the facilities (or lack of) on ESPN's All-Access for Butler, it'd be a pretty cool story if Stevens could build that program to a perennial contender at the national level.  If not, at least they'll always be that sneaky team come March...and hey, we'll always have "The Butler" jokes.

No comments:

Post a Comment