Saturday, March 26, 2011

03/27 (Butler!) Quickie

Congratulations, Butler. Huge, sincere congratulations.

Butler's that team that you root for... short of them playing your team. Especially with a Final Four ticket on the line.

I was talking about expectations this morning. Here's the thing: I'm much more disappointed that Florida lost a game it could have (should have?) won than if they had gotten rolled by Butler like Wisconsin did.

That said: In a way, it's easier for me to take because they pushed this incredibly talented and successful Butler team to its very limit before folding (somewhat predictably).

We can get into what Florida could have done differently -- say, not jack up terrible long 3s when going inside to Macklin or Tyus had been working all game for them. The game did turn on just a handful of bad decisions by Florida's players (and typically good decisions by Butler, whose fans had to be concerned for much of the game about Butler's uncharacteristically problematic play -- that the rest of us knew would eventually be corrected).

But the fact is that Butler earned it. Florida maxed out their potential -- Billy Donovan said that on CBS during the Arizona-UConn halftime, and it made me feel a bit better, because it's true. I had this team going out in the first weekend. The win over BYU was incredible. Taking Butler to the very end (and then some) was almost incredible.

I was trying to explain to my disappointed 4-year-old -- experiencing his first Tournament as a fan -- that, particularly in college basketball, there's always a winner and a loser. Someone has to be the loser, but it's OK, if your team did the best they could. (I didn't get into how that applies to epic underachievement by, say, Ohio State.)

I think Florida did the best they could. And, like the rest of the country (with the possible exception of Kansas), I resume rooting for this exceptionally likeable team and its exceptionally likeable coach, Brad Stevens.

Someone made the argument that this is the best two-year Tournament run in NCAA Tournament history. As a Florida fan, I am inclined to disagree, but the more I thought about it, the more I recognize the superlative in this Butler run over the past two years. (I'll settle for Florida having the best starting five in college basketball over the last 35 years.)

It's amazing. Again: Congratulations, Butler. Through what residual disappointment I have, it's impossible not to feel good for Butler, feel good for college basketball fans everywhere now celebrating this team together and feel good for the sport itself.

-- D.S.

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