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UConn-Butler brickfest a surreal sight on title night

Apr 5, 2011, 3:23 AM EDT


There’s no sugarcoating with talk of fantastic defense. The 2011 NCAA championship game was bad. Awful. Nearly unwatchable. As Jay Bilas tweeted, “no defense is good enough to cause a good offense to be that bad.”

Oh sure, you’ll read about how well the defenses played. In terms of effort, that’s undeniable. Both teams exerted themselves on defense, challenging shots and pressuring ball-handlers.  That’s certainly praiseworthy, which was talked about afterward.

“If you like it wide open and you want nothing but a 49-42 football game with a lot of scores, it wasn’t your game. If you want two teams, I can tell the way they play, they gave it everything they have. To me that’s beauty,” UConn coach Jim Calhoun said. “Yeah, you’d like a few more baskets made certainly. But it was two teams that weren’t going to give into each other and finally our superiority took over. But, damn, I loved it in the sense of the fact of the fight, competitiveness between the two teams.”

Calhoun and UConn fans may have been the only ones. The rest of us watched, jaws agape, amazed at the sheer amount of missed shots by both teams.  It got so bad, it was a surreal sight.

Who knew so many shots could go awry? Who knew UConn could go 1 for 13 from beyond the arc and still win by 12?

When Butler makes just 12 of 64 shots, that’s how. Some amazing – in a bad way – stats:

And it happened on the Monday night that matters!

(shakes head)

Left me feeling like the guy in old Alka Setzer ads, but instead of eating, I was watching the whole thing. And I felt bad for the Bulldogs.

At first, they couldn’t hit because of UConn’s defense. The Huskies were bigger, longer and made just about every attempt a nightmare for Brad Stevens’ squad. But when so many shots wouldn’t fall things got out of hand. Butler wanted to shoot and stretch the UConn defense, but nothing was falling.

It was uncanny.

“I don’t care if they make shots. I don’t love ’em any less because we lost. You know, they’ve been terrific. You’re not always going to make shots. That’s part of the game. Very rarely will you go 12 of 64. But UConn had a lot to do with that,” Stevens said.

“For whatever reason, we just couldn’t make ’em.”

It shouldn’t detract from Butler’s run or the tournament in general though. Both teams proved themselves worthy of playing for the title by winning in the format that’s beloved as one of the greatest playoff systems in sports. So maybe they weren’t the two best teams of the season. So what?

For one night, nothing went in. I’m just sad it had to be title night.

You also can follow me on Twitter @MikeMillerNBC.

  1. florida727 - Apr 5, 2011 at 8:08 AM

    Personally, I think they’re going to continue having lousy Final Fours if the keep playing them in football stadiums. The shooting backdrop is nothing like what the players experience throughout the year and the NCAA is only interested in packing as many people into a place as they can. It makes for a lousy atmosphere. UConn (congrats to them) shoots under 35% and WINS THE NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP? Go back throughout their season, or anyone else’s for that matter and see what their winning percentage is in games they shoot worse than 35%. I’m guessing it ain’t very high. I think the environment hurts the quality of the game without a doubt. Get back to playing in arenas on college campuses. Can you imagine a Final Four at Cameron Indoor or Pauley Pavillion?

  2. iwishiwasindc - Apr 5, 2011 at 8:16 PM

    Worst game in the history of basketball and p$$$y, to paraphrase Matt Damon in “The Departed”! If I were on one of the teams in Butler’s half of the draw, I would be flagellating myself all day today with a whip of net twine for not being the team in this game. Maybe the above post has merit and the arena was too large…there has to be SOME plausible explanation for the collapse we had to witness last night. Kentucky and VCU were worse than Butler? Really, Seth and Amy? Really?

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