April 04, 2011

Butler Meets UConn Tonight for NCAA Title: Butler, an Indianapolis university with only 4,000 students, will attempt to complete its improbable climb to an NCAA basketball championship tonight against UConn. The eight seed could become the first champ ranked that low since Villanova in 1985. UConn's Jim Calhoun, who has been coaching longer than his Butler counterpart Brad Stevens has been alive, is going for the school's third NCAA crown in 13 seasons.

posted by rcade to basketball at 02:34 PM - 10 comments

The linked piece is looking for input/insights and morphs into a poll. Who will be the man of the hour with the title on the line?

I'm rooting for Butler, but if I had to pick a possible difference maker, that Oriakhi guy has me concerned. He has that smoldering, determined look about him. Like Erick Dampier did when his Mississippi State team made the Final Four way back when.

Don' t know who's in charge of the timing of news stories, but it's interesting that the Nate Miles saga is warming up again right at this moment.

posted by beaverboard at 03:13 PM on April 04

Go Butler! (I gotta admit, I'm an IU alum and rabidfan, but while they're regrouping I'll root for any Indiana team, and especially one from about two miles west of where I spent my tender years.)

I'm gonna risk looking stupid - something I haven't done since '55 - or was that :55? - and say that Brad Stevens is the next Bob Knight of bball, sans the temper and ego, and that team basketball is gonna win this one.

posted by outonleave at 08:28 PM on April 04

Stunned and pleasantly surprised to see the UConn men win this. I was on the phone to my parents when they made it to the Sweet 16 and we agreed that it was a pleasant surprise to see them there, but we didn't expect to see them go any further. And then we had that same discussion when they reached the Elite 8... and then again at the Final 4.

Honestly, we didn't expect to see either the Men or Women go all the way this year (the Women's team is good, but you can't win a national championship on the back of a single player, even a player like Maya Moore) so this whole tournament was a very pleasant surprise for us. Go Huskies!

posted by Joey Michaels at 11:54 PM on April 04

Very tough shooting night for Butler - at times for both teams, and no attempt whatsoever to make any excuses for poor shooting, but...

I noticed during the Saturday night Final Four games that the boards and rims appeared to be especially unforgiving and inhospitable. And again so in the title game. I'd be curious to know what the players on any of the four teams thought of the goals.

posted by beaverboard at 12:34 AM on April 05

On the radio broadcast, John Thompson and Bill Raftery were talking about the tight rims. Of course there was also lot of nonsense about "length" and other sound effects, so I could never be quite sure exactly what they were watching.

posted by Hugh Janus at 09:17 AM on April 05

The rims could very well have been extremely tight, but when your game consists of throwing up long-range bombs, like Butler did last night, a little bit off can result in disaster. They had no ability to work the ball inside, so relying on tons of low percentage shots was their only option.

Both teams played extremely tough, hard-nosed defense. The size advantage UConn had on the interior was the major difference.

I have heard the game described as "ugly," but that's really not a fair description. Every shot Butler took was with a UConn defender in their face, even beyond the arc, and that just involves great hustle and determination.

posted by dyams at 09:56 AM on April 05

I thought the game was awful. Butler did get some open looks, and they couldn't make any of their shots fall. Then their offensive strategy was to just to have anybody shoot 3s and pray. It seemed like all the air had drained out of both teams in the first half. UConn fortunately got some air back in them in the second half.

posted by bperk at 10:19 AM on April 05

Playing the championship in a football stadium is about money, nothing about that environment is otherwise beneficial to the game or the players. Keep in mind that these 2 teams got where they were primarily by playing smothering defence, and that part of the game was exceptional.

I was puzzled by Butler going into a zone / half court trap when UConn had Walker/Lamb/Napier on the court especially being down a few baskets. Butler looked gassed and having to chase quicker opponents didn't aid them in any way. I assume they were attempting to duplicate Louisville's success with the zone against UConn, but obviously didn't have the personnel to execute.

posted by cixelsyd at 10:49 AM on April 05

The Butler vs UConn game went much like a contest between the breeds represented by their mascots might have. UConn's is the Husky, a strong, smart dog with great endurance. Butler's is the Bulldog, strong, stubborn, with a will never to admit defeat. The Bulldog held on as long as it could, but in the end the endurance and smarts of the Husky proved to be too much.

The moral of the story is if you are going to go on a winning streak, do it at the end of the season, beginning in your conference tournament, and don't lose your last game. Works every time.

posted by Howard_T at 05:54 PM on April 05

"Every shot Butler took was with a UConn defender in their face, even beyond the arc"

Couldn't understand why they kept jacking those up, as solidly defended as they were. I get it that UConn\'s interior defense was extra-tough, but: 1. A well-defended 3 is much harder to make than a well-defended jumper at the elbow, 2. Getting the ball in the paint almost invariably leads to more fouls by defenders, which changes the dynamic of the game.

Contested 3 pointers are very, very low percentage shots, with little chance of the defender compromising his team with fouls.

While I like the tournament's format immensely and would never want it to change, I couldn't help thinking that neither team last night would ever survive a best-of-five against most of the high-seed teams.

BUT: that's irrelevant, I guess, and their tournament performances prior to the final four were simply terrific.

posted by Uncle Toby at 08:41 PM on April 05

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