Thursday, April 7, 2011
Behind The Scoreboard
Fantastic Final Four
OK, I’ll be the first to say it, “The Butler did it.” Well, actually the Butler Bulldogs did it.
They have come into their own within the last three years. In the previous season they were virtually a giant-killing force. In the current season they teamed with another to systematically eliminate some of the biggest contenders. As is always the case in a shootout when you have two fast guns, it is almost inevitable that sooner or later they are going to have to face each other.
And it happened on Saturday evening when the pair of giant slayers squared off against each other in Houston in the first game of the Final Four. The final score was not really indicative of how the game was really played. For 90 percent of the playing time it was Bulldog versus Ram. VCU fell behind in the final four minutes and had to resort to fouling. And there were the Butler Bulldogs, who had earned the distinction of being the only team in NCAA playoff history to knock out number ones and twos for two consecutive years.
You can’t take a lot away from the VCU Rams. They faced the returning Butler after a five-upset run through the playoffs. As mentioned, they were still giving the Bulldogs some tainted kibbles with just a little over two minutes left. Maybe the edge went to Butler because of previous playoff experience. The outcome is already in the record books; however, this royal battle of the “mid-majors” at this level has to be admired.
The buzz about the pending match-up between the Kentucky Wildcats and the UConn Huskies was all the rage prior to Saturday. Not only did this game draw the largest crowd ever (75,421) in attendance at a Final Four game but it garnered a heck of a lot of media attention, especially the usually garrulous coach of the Wildcats. When pressed by an interviewer on Friday about certain irregularities which caused records to be erased from two earlier teams that he had coached to a Final Four, John Calipari refused to enter into any discussion. He adroitly dismissed the question as one “which had been answered numerous times before.” The coach was not blamed for any of those infractions.
And local sentiments were favoring the coach. While some admitted that it would still probably be more years before he is totally forgiven for bolting on Memphis, all praised him for his coaching expertise. The Wildcats put up one great scrap but bowed to the Huskies in the last minutes 56-55.
UConn, no stranger to this level of play, faced the Bulldogs on Monday evening (after the deadline for this week’s sports section). It was Huskies and Bulldogs, a real dogfight.
I am sure that all of you have heard of the death of the former coach of the Memphis Tigers. Coach Larry Finch had compiled the most wins of any University of Memphis basketball coach.
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