Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Duke Dodged More Than Just A Bullet

Read this article on Bleacher Report

Okay, I know everyone's had enough of the David vs. Goliath references. But this wasn't exactly the same story. In the biblical version, David had a slingshot, and God on his side. In the 2010 Butler basketball version of this story, David didn't need God. David had a full rocket launcher, four sticky grenades, a sniper rifle, AND a spartan laser, just in case you wanted to come at him with a vehicle or something pathetic like that. (Forgive my Halo references, but you get the point.) Can we stop comparing them to the Hickory Huskers already? Butler was a damn good team this year. Their best player is not Jimmy Chitwood, his name is Gordon Hayward, and he's going to do work in the NBA as a future lottery pick.

Yeah, they were the underdogs, but not by much. Didn't these kids just win an insane 25 straight games? TWENTY-FIVE STRAIGHT??? Nobody seems to remember that Butler was ranked in the AP poll the entire year, coming in at a very respectable #11 in both the preseason and the final regular season polls. Duke was ranked #9 in the preseason poll and #3 in the final regular season poll. This was a relatively even matchup, considering it was a home game for Butler. The real injustice was that the selection committee gave Butler a #5 seed. How in the freakin' world does a top 15 team get a #5 seed? Selection committee, that's on you.

On another note, my Dukies were not your typical Goliath. Duke didn't star a single lottery pick on their team. Kyle Singler is a mid to late first rounder now, but other than that, no one on this squad has a remote chance to be drafted in the top 14 picks this year. Duke's team this year is one of the best examples ever of how players on a team can work together to use each player's individual strengths to compensate for each player's individual weaknesses.

Jon Scheyer has been constantly criticized for his lack of quickness and ability to create shots at the point guard position. That's okay, because Nolan Smith is great at those things, and he had the ball when the shot clock was running low. Brian Zoubek is a monster rebounder, but he is far below average as an offensive threat down low. The solution? He kicked the ball out to open shooters at every opportunity. Lance Thomas was never a great offensive player, so instead, he contributed by guarding the other team's best player every game by using his unbelievable defensive intensity and energy and left the offense in the hands of more capable players.

I could sit here for days and tell you how this team just worked perfectly together, but I'm not going to. All you need to know is that this team was not Goliath. This team had no stars. This team played as one unit. Yeah, they watched Hoosiers, and they heard you, Gene Hackman, they heard you.

Finally, let's give Butler the credit they deserve. Gordon Hayward, I could have completed med school in the time it took for your final two shots to finally come down from the sky. I was THAT worried. Butler, I tip my hat off to you, you were one of the toughest opponents we faced all year, you gave us a hell of a game, and you almost won it. You played winning basketball, championship basketball, and came up a possession short. You have nothing to be ashamed of, and you will be a force to be reckoned with next year.