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Da’Sean Butler Apologized to Bob Huggins for Letting him Down

One of the most discussed moments of the 2010 NCAA tournament was not even a basketball play. During the Duke/West Virginia Final Four game, Mountaineers senior winger Da’Sean Butler slashed to the hoop on a drive but banged knees with Duke monster center Brian Zoubek. Butler dropped to the floor immediately, writhing and screaming in pain; doctor’s later determined he tore his ACL and sprained his MCL. The significant moment came when coach Bob Huggins consoled Butler in a loving father/son way that emotionally touched most viewers. In a halftime interview on CBS during the championship game, Butler explained what was said during that moment:

Butler shared some of the most touching words I’ve heard come from a collegiate basketball player (transcription below in case you can’t watch). Think about what kind of character and heart Butler has to apologize to his coach during a painful and agonizing moment. I’m struck by Butler’s selfless and inspiring attitude. In an age of one-and-dones, Da’Sean Butler serves as a perfect example of players doing things the right way. Butler stayed in school all four years and emerged as a true leader both on and off the floor. He hit game-winning shots in two of three games in the Big East tournament and helped West Virginia knock off Kentucky in the Elite Eight with a strong three-point shooting night. With the type of team-first attitude and high character Butler displayed, I’m confident his knee injury won’t keep him down.

Here’s some of what Butler said in case you couldn’t watch the video:

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The Loneliest Fans in Lucas Oil Stadium

Were the four West Virginia supporters huddled in primo seats behind the Butler bench. They jumped off the screen every time the action moved down the court because they simply did not belong. How could you miss those out of place yellow shirts?

Those West Virginia fans serve as a reminder that the Final Four (and all tournament sites) involve fans of four teams, not two. Most of us have been on both sides of the situation. My favorite memory was the bitter Gonzaga fan sitting in front of me for the UCLA/Memphis regional final back in ’06, two days after the Bruins launched a miracle comeback and left Adam Morrison crying. My worst memory was the money down the drain for the ’08 championship game after UCLA lost to Memphis at the Final Four in San Antonio. It always sucks to be on the losing end of the first game but at least the fans get a second game to mitigate the disappointment.

Indy Star Newspaper Cover Shows Drawings on Coach K’s Face

I am not above spewing venom upon a disliked subject here at LBS or my radio show. There’s no confusion about that. I also can admit when I’ve crossed the line in going too far ridiculing a given subject. When I picked on Duke recently, I focused my disgust with the favoritism given to them in tournament seeding and favorable officiating — complaints that seem quite legitimate. The Indianapolis Star however crossed the line by printing a cover of their newspaper that included a picture of Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski with doodles all over his face. The drawing also had horns and a bullseye on Coach K’s face. Here’s a picture of the cover via Jimmy Traina at SI Extra Mustard’s Hot Clicks:

Coach K called the cover “juvenile.” Amateur was the word that came to my mind so obviously we’re on the same page. Putting together a guide for fans on hating Duke based on complaints that they’re on TV more frequently than any team, favored by the selection committee, or favored by media members is legitimate. Drawing horns on Coach K’s head like he’s the devil is just juvenile, even if it’s a joke. There are other, better ways of getting across your message.

Sources:
Indy Star ticks off Mike Krzyzewski [SI Extra Mustard Hot Clicks]

Would 96 Teams Work? Only One Way to Find Out

Almost every sports fan I know gets excited when they flip their calender from Feburary to March and realizes that March Madness is just a few weeks away. Even though this year’s tournament isn’t even over yet, the NCAA has already started talking about the future. Nothing is set in stone, but the NCAA is looking to expand the tournament from its current 65 team field to one that included 96 teams.

I’m not quite sure what to think about this. In one way, I think that 65 teams is quite enough for this tournament. I think that it allows for some of the best basketball games to be played because you’ve got some of the best teams in the nation playing some teams who aren’t quite as good but at least put up a fight. So what would happen if the other teams were included? Would it even be fair to let some of these teams into the tournament when they might not have a very good shot? I just don’t know.

On the other hand, the expansion would be good. In the proposed format, the NCAA tournament would absorb the 32-team NIT, and that could result in some good competition for NCAA teams. Plus, inviting more teams to the Big Dance would give several more student athletes a chance for fame and the opportunity to live a dream.

I can’t seem to make up my mind about whether this would be a good thing or bad thing for the NCAA but I guess their is only one way to find out — try it. As long as the excitement of the March Madness continues, I guess it couldn’t hurt.

Sources:
NCAA: 96-team field is the best fit [ESPN]

Tim Floyd: Talented O.J. Mayo Was Not Bought for $1,000

After laying low for several months since being fired by USC and seeing the Trojans self-impose sanctions on the basketball program, Tim Floyd re-emerged on the college scene by accepting the head coaching gig at UTEP. Though he’s declined to comment on the O.J. Mayo case, he did offer up a few nuggets that have me scratching my head. Here’s what Floyd apparently told Maryland coach Gary Williams on SIRIUS Mad Dog Radio when asked if he’d recruit Mayo again:

“Yes, absolutely. Because O.J. is a very good person and a very good player. There is an underground economy in the sport. And I’m not saying anything about the case. Nothing about the case. But if anybody thinks that O.J. Mayo, with his talents, was bought for $1,000, you’re out of your damn mind. That’s absolutely preposterous.”

OK, so Floyd shared something that we all know — there’s an underground economy where AAU coaches, high school coaches, runners, and players are getting paid off by agents and boosters to have players directed to certain schools and “advisers.” That’s nothing new. What I don’t understand is his contention that O.J. Mayo was not bought for $1,000 (the amount he’s been accused of paying a Mayo associate). What is he implying, that a player of Mayo’s talents costs much more? Does $1,000 only buy Marcus Simmons? Does an O.J. Mayo will run you six figures? Seven? Come on, Tim, you’re not making any sense here!

Sources:
Tim Floyd: ‘I’m going to come out on the good end of this’ [USA Today]

Who Will Last Longer: Lavin or Floyd?

Tuesday was an interesting day for Southern California sports fans. Former UCLA coach Steve Lavin had his prayers answered and he was hired to become the new head coach at St. John’s. Former USC coach Tim Floyd was plucked from the New Orleans Hornets staff to serve as UTEP’s head coach, replacing Tony Barbee who left for Auburn. So the obvious question is … who lasts longer at their job? Though the answer may seem obvious based on coaching merit, the question is trickier than you think. Let’s examine some of the factors at play:

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Favorable Calls Tipped Baylor Game in Duke’s Favor

Pete Gillen famously mused that Duke is “on TV more than Leave it to Beaver reruns.” Perhaps his statement should be amended to say, “Certainly Duke is Duke, they get more favorable draws and favorable calls than anyone,” because that’s how I feel after seeing the Blue Devils advance to their latest Final Four. Give the Blue Devils credit for having an excellent regular season and winning four games in the tournament but I can’t get past a couple of issues.

The first issue is one about which I complained on Selection Sunday and many times before — Duke got a favorable seed and favorable draw. They were the third number one seed — ahead of Syracuse despite the Orange’s undisputed more impressive resume — and they somehow avoided the top two number two seeds in Ohio State and West Virginia. Not only did they receive a struggling Villanova team in their bracket (losers of five of seven entering the tourney), but they also got Purdue as their four seed — a team that struggled to score once they lost Robbie Hummel to a knee injury. The NCAA took care of their part, Duke did theirs.

The second issue is one that tipped the South Regional finals game in Duke’s favor — favoritism from the refs. Although I felt like the game was called evenly the first 35 minutes or so, three calls in the final five minutes helped take the ball out of Baylor’s hands and give Duke more opportunities for victory. Let’s go over each one.

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