Monday, April 4, 2011

Dear Diary: 2011 Championship Game - Butler vs. UConn

You are loooking liiiiive at the Daily Onions home office. Actually, you aren't really looking live at it, but we are reporting live from the Daily Onions home office. We are going all out for the final game of the college basketball season (not including Skylar Diggins' coming out party tomorrow night), with a running diary of the National Championship between Butler and UConn.

Let's jump right in with the starting lineups. We kind of miss the alternating starting lineups they used to do in the Championship game, as well as seeing the players autographs on the screen when they are announced. Ahh the good ole days. All the Butler players pet Blue II the Bulldog - except Shawn Vanzant (maybe he is allergic?). Jim Calhoun and Brad Stevens with the pregame handshake, looks more like a grandfather excited to see his grandson.

Kudos to CBS for including Steve Kerr for the Final 4. He's great on NBA games, and has been awesome throughout the tournament. Taking some airtime away from Clark Kellogg is always a plus too.

Nantz's first call - "It's time to settle the Madness." Sounds good, Jim.

18:52 - Chase "Steven" Stigall hits his first shot of the tournament (not really, but close) to give Butler a 3-2 lead. He could provide a nice little spark for the Dawgs.

17:55 - Stigall misses his next three. So much for that.

17:06 - Walker, Mack and Lamb are a combined 0-5.

16:35 - Second fundamental box out by Butler leads to second over the back call on UConn.

15:58 - Andrew Smith sideout on a Kemba Walker layup. First media timeout. Big game nerves in full effect. Walker 0-4, Lamb 0-2, Mack 0-3, Howard 0-2. Oh and by the way, Daily Onions prediction is 60-56 Butler. Low scoring affair as we think both of these teams, especially UConn, are gassed.

15:56 - Steve Kerr says he is expecting a low scoring game....beat you to it, Stevie.

15:30 - Kerr talks about Butler's defensive rotations. We should have set an over/under on how many basketball fundamentals are discussed when talking about Butler tonight. I'd take the over.

15:17 - Howard is the first "star" from either team to score with a 3-pointer, his first of the Final 4.

13:19 - Howard, probably the slowest guy on the court, beats everyone down the court and Ronald Nored finds him with a nice hit ahead. Howard is fouled, drains two - 8-8.

13:06 - "WALKER on the board now" - Nantz (pull up jumper from Kemba)

12:34 - Walker driving layup in transition.......and the foul. Makes the FT, UConn goes up 13-8.

12:20 - Kemba gets a break...Calhoun sees the under 12 timeout approaching, to give Kemba some extra rest.

11:58 - First turnover of the game by Butler and we head to another media timeout. UConn leads 13-9. Walker has 5, Oriakhi 4 for UConn, while Howard has 5 for Butler. Mack, Vanzant and Lamb all still scoreless.

11:45 Tyler "White" Olander takes his third shot of the game (a 17 ft jumper), and then Jim Calhoun promptly takes him out. Not surprised.

11:10 "That's Andrew Smith, with the reach around." -Nantz

10:26 Loyal reader Ramy texts me that UConn is too big. Oriaki then picks up his 2nd foul, and the next play Andrew Smith scores on a baby hook in the post. So much for that.

9:35 Mack misses a layup in traffic. Shellllllllvin!!! He's 0-4 and Butler is down 13-11.

9:02 POTENTIAL TURNING POINT: 7th team foul on UConn - shooting from here on out. Mack makes one of two...he's on the board!

8:16 Butler's size causing problems. On an offensive rebound, Andrew Smith draws Lamb's 2nd foul. Smith makes one of two. Tied at 13! Sloppy basketball at its best!!!

7:40 Kerr says both teams struggling to find any rhythm. Seriously, Steve, stop stealing my lines.

7:20 STIGALL again!!! Butler up 16-15. (Nantz tells us Stigall is from SteveAlford, Indiana).

6:44 Media Timeout. Butler leads 16-15. Butler shooting 22% from the field, UConn shooting 29%. I'll take "The Under" for $300, Alex.

6:03 Back to back baskets by UConn and Huskies go up 19-16.

4:46 UConn with a couple of offensive rebounds to keep a possession alive, now lead 23-16 on the glass. Ramy was right - too big.

4:14 Mack with his first field goal, a three, to tie the game at 19.

3:49 Final media timeout of the half comes on a dumb foul by Vanzant. Stevens tells him that he is smarter than that. He's right. All square at 19.

Like a good neighbor, State Farm is there....with a Hot Tub!

2:46 Howard takes a charge on Kemba. That's number 2 on Walker. Game still tied at 19. Butler has only made 5 field goals this half (5-24).

44.8 Howard takes another charge. And Roscoe Smith picks up his second foul. Kerr tells us Butler considers taking charges their version of blocked shots. White boy blocked shots. I like it. I definitely led the team in White Boy Blocks back in high school.

As time expires, Shelvin Mack drains a three from deeep. Butler takes a 22-19 lead to the half. "Mack is Back" - Nantz (Jim is already in Augusta).

So at the half, Mack and Walker both have 7 points. If you drew Chase Stigall in the second leading scorer at the half pool, you won! He's got 6. Biggest surprise, Lamb is 0-1 with no points and 2 fouls.

All around ugly game. Both teams playing hard, but its ugly. Neither team shooting higher than 24% from the field. Butler has made six baskets, only one of them as two-point bucket. UConn is up 14-0 in points in the paint, and are up 9 in the rebounding column and are trailing by 3 at the half. Makes sense.

Show Us Your Onions finalist Brady gets in on some twitter action with this gem: #bradstevenslookslike ... Matt Howard's younger brother that he gives noogies to.... 
And we are back....

19:45 STIGALL again!!! He's got 9 points. Lamb who? Kemba Who? We got Chase Stigall!! Butler up 25-19.

19:21 Oh, there's Lamb. Draws a foul and makes 2 FTs to FINALLY get on the board.

18:32 Kemba...for 2. 25-23 Butler.

17:46 Welcome to the ballgame Jeremy Lamb, who drains a 3 - UConn up 26-25. Loyal reader, Ramy tweets that he wishes Jeremy Lamb was his younger brother. Not really sure what that means, but we do too!

Loyal reader JaLil texts me a reference about The Wire and Alex Oriakhi, that I didn't get because I haven't watched it yet. I'll get to it...I promise.

15:54 Media timeout 27-25, UConn leads.

15:02 Nored misses a 3 for Butler. That means that the only 3-pointer that Nored has ever made at Butler was a banked in 3 against Syracuse, in the final minutes of last year's Sweet 16 game. #stillhurts #notbitter

13:37 Lamb with a steal and a dunk. He's got 7 in the 2nd half and UConn is now up 31-26. Timeout Brad Stevens. Kerr points out that it might only be a five point lead, but it feels like a lot more. He's right (obviously). Butler is 7-41 from the field, and Mack is 2-12. I've seen fourth grade CYO games with better shooting.

Reader Kenny texts with this "Who told Shelvin to play like Jimmer tonight?" You could add William Buford, Erving Walker, and Nolan Smith to that list.

13:15 Right on cue, Howard misses a shot in the lane.

12:56 Lamb misses a jumper, gets his own rebound, and then hits a jumper. 33-26, Lamb has 9, and a new older brother, Ramy.

Reader JaLil texts with a Clark Kellogg "bang bus" joke. Always good for a laugh.

12:32 Ladies and Gentleman, we'd like to welcome Shawn Vanzant to the ballgame, as he hits a jumper. Cuts the UConn lead to 5.

11:50 Media timeout. "The Dog Fight....continues in Houston." - Nantz (way to get creative, Jim. If you are going to mail it in, at least hand the mic over to Gus).

11:07 Its becoming the Jeremy Lamb show as he catches an alley oop and lays it in. 37-28 UConn. Lamb now has 11 points in 9 minutes.

10:12 Kemba with an acrobatic layup to give UConn a 39-28, leading to a Butler timeout. This is Butler's largest deficit of the Tournament. As we go to break, "UConn on a roll, a finger roll..." -Nantz (Jim, make it stop)

9:50 Howard misses another layup...doing his best 2010 Rick Jackson impression in the paint (credited to JaLil)

I don't remember the last time Butler made a shot. They are 2-21 in the 2nd half. They've missed 19 of their last 20 shots. They are 8-49 in the game. Gross.

7:25 Oriakhi, the UConn center hits a 15 foot jumper...almost rubbing it in. UConn goes up 41-28.

6:11 Andrew Smith ends the drought of six and a half minutes for Butler. But UConn answers with a dunk, lead 43-30 going to the under 8 timeout. "...And they have Walker...Texas Ranger." - Nantz (really?)

5:49 Ramy texts me the "Curtains" call, meaning the game is over and UConn wins.

4:58 Nappier with a driving layup gives UConn a 46-32 lead.

4:35 Vanzant hits a 3, 46-35. If Butler is going to make a run, they need to go now.

3:48 And....Howard throws up a wild running shot in the lane. So much for that comeback.

3:17 The final media timeout. UConn leads 46-35. "UConn has 10 blocks, which ties a NCAA tournament record." -Nantz (hold on, Jim...That wasn't cheesy. Do it over!)

Donyell Marshall is shown in the crowd. We met Donyell at Little Star Basketball Camp at Kutztown University back in 1989 (Daily Onions fun fact of the day).

2:58 Oriakhi grabs another rebound. He's got 11 and 11. Remember when Daily Onions had Oriakhi on our favorite underclassmen list back in January. Yep, we do too!

1:50 We see a graphic that shows the lowest FG% in a championship game was 21% back in 1941. Butler is shooting 19%.

1:40 Mack hits a 3. Lead down to 8. Could have used that one about 5 minutes ago, Shelvin.

:30 Walker at the line, hits 2 free throws. UConn up 53-41.

Clock is winding down....

"The Huskies are the Top Dog in 2011!" -Nantz (Well, you didn't disappoint with that one Jim.)

Oh wait....what's this, another one? "But one thing was very clear tonight in Houston, Connecticut wins best in show." - Nantz (Just go, Jim. Go to Augusta and don't ever come back.)

So, that's that. UConn wins 53-41. After trailing 22-19 at the half, Jeremy Lamb gave the Huskies a huge lift to start the second session. It helped that Butler shot an NCAA Championship worst, 18.8% from the field.UConn was the better team on Monday night,  the best team in the last three weeks, and they are the National Champions. Oh, and they were 9th in the Big East this year, so obviously the Big East isn't a strong conference. It's UConn's 3rd Championship since 1999. As we mentioned on Friday, we think Calhoun will go out on top, sidestepping the pending suspension next year and retiring to Cape Cod, or Southern New Jersey if he is like Bo Ryan.

For Butler, one bad game won't take away from the amazing run that they've had the past two years. They are still one of our favorites and we'll take every opportunity to see them play live next year in Chicago. Anything to get us closer to Brad Stevens.

Just because the college basketball season is over, doesn't mean Daily Onions is done. We still need to crown our Show Us Your Onions Champion (Brady Smith), and we'll switch gears to NBA playoffs, with some NBA Draft, coaching carousel, etc mixed in as well over the next few months. Keep coming back!

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