Monday, April 5, 2010

That was a heck of a game

Except for Duke winning, it's everything you could ask for in a Tournament Final.

In the end, Butler missed too many layups, and gave up 6 cheap points on inbounds plays to Duke. That was the difference in the game. Duke's defense took the 3 pointer out of Butler's arsenal for the second half.

I thought Stevens erred badly in leaving Howard in towards the end on offense, as Butler had such success spreading the floor with Jukes and driving. But aside from Hayward, Howard was Butler's only offense for the last 6 minutes, which shows why he's the darling coach of the country and I'm a no-name with a blog.

Duke played 2 outstanding defensive games in the Final Four. They completely shut down West Virginia and kept Butler from making any runs whatsoever in the final. In the end, Duke's defense won the day.

Luckily for Duke, they didn't have to bring any sort of A-game until they reached the Final Four. Purdue was a shell of itself and Baylor was too green to pose a real threat. Villanova might have been a threat, if they had bothered to show up for the tournament at all. I don't understand how the #3 overall seed ended up with the easiest road to the Final Four, all I can say is "It's good to be the Duke".

You cannot say enough about Butler's run. There were at least 4 points in the second half where it looked like Duke would blow things wide open, but every time Butler got the stops they needed to claw their way back in. They had their shot with 30 seconds left, the ball, and down 1, but Hayward was just off on his floater. if you had offered them that chance before the game they would have taken it in a heartbeat. Unfortunately, the 2nd timeout they had to burn to get the ball inbounds cost them after Zoubeck's intentional miss with 3.6 seconds left. Hayward's heave was closer than it had any right to be, but in the end, Butler could not hold Duke under 60, and points 60 and 61 were enough for Duke to win their 4th national championship.

Cue the smarmy American Express card commericals for Coach K

Duke 33 Butler 32 @ Halftime

I'd feel cautiously optimistic if I'm Butler. They're getting good shots, both close to the basket and from behind the arc, they only started falling towards the end of the half. If Matt Howard can hit the broad side of the barn in the second half, Butler's got quite the chance. Duke's going to get 60, but if Butler can keep it close, that's all they could ask for with 4 minutes to go in this game.

Coach Stevens has the golden touch so far, hopefully he and his team have 20 more minutes in them.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

I really hate to say this

Duke played an outstanding game. They didn't get the calls, they simply executed their offense very well, played tight D and didn't let West Virginia get open looks from behind the arc, and buried the Mountaineers with second-chance points. They did a heck of a job, it was like watching the West Virginia-Kentucky game, only with West Virginia playing the part of Kentucky, minus the complete ineptness from downtown.

Then again, who could be surprised, this is what Bob Huggins teams do when they make it to the final four, they show up, and depart very quickly. I will say this for Huggins though, for a joyless mercenary, his somewhat uncomfortable moment with Da'Sean Butler was touching.

Congratulations soulless blue devils, I hope you lose by 40 on Monday.

Duke still sucks

but it looks like they're going to the title game. Way too many offensive rebounds being given up by West Virginia, and too many open looks at three pointers. Kentucky got a lot of these open looks too, they just didn't know what to do with them. Duke does, and unless they go ice cold in the second half, Butler's going to have to be the team of all that is good and righteous on Monday night. Come to think of it, even if West Virginia pulls it off, Bob Huggins teams aren't good or righteous, so Butler's got that mantle locked up.

Butler wins

Butler got 1 field goal in the final 10 minutes and still knocked off Michigan State. Thanks to free throws and forcing MSU turnovers, Butler never even trailed for the final 16 minutes.

Basically, Michigan State played very good defense, but Butler's great defense, MSU's foul trouble, and the loss of Kalin Lucas earlier in the tournament was too finally too much for them to overcome.

About 6-7 years ago, I christened Gonzaga as the ultimate tournament team, for being a minor conference team that consistently outplayed their seed in the tournament. Gonzaga really hasn't done that consistently in 5-6 years (basically Mark Few's entire tenure), and now, I think we can officially hand over the mantle to Butler.

Hopefully they can keep it going for one more game.

MSU-Butler 1st Half

These teams are very good defensive teams, but this half we're seeing quite a bit of bad offense. Lots of missed shots, a few turnovers.

Draymond Green is one of the strangest basketball players I've seen. I've seen big football-player looking b-ball players before, but they're centers or power forwards. Green is a wing player, and twice in that half I saw him put the ball on the floor and beat his man off the dribble. That's odd considering he looks like Robert (Tractor) Traylor.

Michigan State's offense really stagnated at the end of the first half, but Butler got 0 field goals from everyone on their team not named Mack or Hayward. Like I said earlier, the offense did not impress overall.

I didn't like the timeout Butler's 12-year-old looking coach called with 2.5 seconds left, for 2 reasons. First, they need to change the rule and force the player with the ball to call the timeout. Letting the coach do it from the sideline totally changes the game, and at least twice this tournament the time out has been granted even though the player didn't have possession of the ball when the time out was called. Second, what are the odds of a successful play with 2.5 seconds left when you have to inbound the ball 92 feet from the basket? I'd estimate 0.8%. He might want that 4th timeout in the last couple of minutes.

Edge to Butler after the first half. None of their players have 3 fouls, only 2 players actually hit a field goal, and they are tied with Michigan State.