I simply could not believe what I saw this weekend. I sat shaking my head in disbelief for most of the championship game. Like C.M. Newton when Barry Goheen used to do the amazing back in the late 80s at Vanderbilt. The cosmic tumblers were clicking into place for something amazing. Head Coach Brad Stevens had the word resolve. The Dawgs simply would not go away. Down anytime, didn't matter. Duke up 6 early, BU goes on a 7-0 run. Nip and tuck all the way till the end.
A team effort, but individuals making up the whole. Matt Howard shaking off the concussion. Ronald Nored showing amazing quickness. Shelvin Mack sticking shots. Avery Jukes saving his best for last. Gordon Hayward had 2 shots at the win. I thought the fadeaway was going down. Think about it, Butler only really played one good half offensively the entire tourney, that 2nd stanza vs UTEP in the opening round. Heads up kiddies, defense was the key. This was more than just a "good showing", or they gave Duke a "tough game". Coach K and the Company are damn lucky to be leaving town with the trophy. Duke might have won the battle, but Butler won the war. BU more than represented.
Not only on the court, but in the stands as well. I am not going to take up this space belly-aching about bandwagon fans. Any school that goes to the Final Four gets that. Indianapolis has been firmly embracing this program steadily for the past decade. I remember covering the Dawgs when the roster included Dan Dudukovich, Rolf van Rijn (maybe the most bizarre thing ever was seeing this guy riding a bike on campus) and Andy Hirschy running the point. The caliber of athlete has gotten better, as has the number of fans.
Monday night at the end of the Butler War Song, the "B-U" was deafening
.and there was a second "B-U" coming from the upper deck. Sort of sounded like the old RCA Dome days of IU playing in the NCAAs, with the "I-U" punctuating the end of the fight song.
There were more Butler Final Four t-shirt sales this week than in the entire decade of the 70s too. Those Nike Butler sweatshirts will be all over the place next year. Every white 14 year old boy in the suburbs will have one too. The fanbase is set and now includes a ton more folks, folks who can't wait for that next season of Butler Basketball. What will the encore be???
Hinkle Fieldhouse got its every-25-years renewal as the "Palace of Hoops" and the Dawgs made LOS "Hinkle South." Remember when the Joel Cornette dunk made Conseco Fieldhouse "Hinkle South" a few years ago vs Indiana??? Fans from all over made the pilgrimage and basked in its glory. And I thought the Mecca was in Milwaukee
This current crop of Dawgs did grow tired of the " Hoosiers" references, and understandably so. The national media is sometimes (well, a lot of times) very narrow minded when it comes to their line of questioning. They hit one rock-solid topic and run with it. But this team did represent all the little schools that never had a chance to get here. Just think if Northern Iowa was here this weekend instead. The fact that this happened this year and here was even sweeter.
Gonzaga and Davidson advanced the plight of the so-called "mid-major" a few years ago, now Butler has taken it off the charts. I personally don't like the 96 team expansion plan, but it will pass. The big guys will be happy, but it also means more chances for a Butler 2010 type of situation. Valpo, Ball State, Indiana St, IUPUI and Evansville take notice. Will IU ever get back to this level now???
Don't be sad Bulldog fans, "The Butler Way" is here to stay.
Butler not done yet...
Despite the National Championship loss to Duke, "The Butler Way" will be the wave of the future.
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