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Bulldogs Neutered...A Sad End to an Otherwise Amazing Run


Because I'm a gentleman, let me first say thanks to the Butler men's basketball team for giving their school and this city something to cheer about and making another historic run to the NCAA Championship...but damn...that game was hard to watch. To come all that way, to knock out such powerhouse teams as Pitt, Wisconsin, Florida, and to have it end like it did on Monday night has got to be one of the biggest sports disappointments of this millennium (there's only been 11 years tho).

What went wrong? Well, here are Grant Catton's "Keys of the Game":

1.) 19% shooting percentage. At some point the Bulldogs couldn't buy a basket. The rim just seemed to be repelling their shots. They weren't even hitting layups, for dog's sake. There's no explanation for this other than the fact the ball just wouldn't go in the hole. But when you're making 1 out of 5 shots, you give your opponents a big opening to make something happen. It wasn't even like UConn was shooting that well. They shot something like 35%! That's awful, too! All Butler needed was for three or four more of their shots to fall and they were in that game.

2.) Closing of the lane. Until Matt Howard made a layup in the 37th minute of the game, Butler had scored exactly zero (0) points from the paint. Zero. Their big man, Andrew Smith simply could not get a shot off. Every time he got the ball, two of UConn's big men were on him like stink on sh*t. I've never seen a game where a team was shut out of the lane so completely as Butler was last night. That forced Butler to have to throw up a lot of three-pointers, which would've been okay except....refer to No. 1 above....they couldn't make a shot.

So, there you have it. Not the most intellectual or informed basketball commentary out there, but I find it hard to see what else went wrong. It's funny, going into half-time I though FOR SURE the Bulldogs had the game under control, with Mack draining a three as the clock ran out. But then, something happened in the second half. We just couldn't go to the rack. And then UConn started to hit shots, and when that one guy--Jeremy Lamb, maybe--hit that alley-oop, I knew we were in trouble. And when, a few minutes later, he stole the ball and dunked it, completely unopposed, I knew it was over. Then the announcers started giving out the "Impact Player of the Game" award (to Lamb), and people started walking out of Hinkle Field house where I was watching the game.

There will be greater disappointments in life, and if you look at this from the Glass-Half-Full perspective, it was still an amazing run and has brought national attention to what is otherwise just another small, private university in the Midwest. So again, all criticism and kvetching aside...my hat's off to the Butler Bulldogs. I'm not gonna even pretend to stay mad at y'all for busting your way through seemingly impossible odds to get back to the Championship for the second time in a row. Hold your heads up high Dawgies. I raise my paw in salute to you....Thanks.

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