April 5, 2011

One dog of an NCAA title game

by Dan Bilicki In: Basketball

Monday night’s NCAA championship game was two things and both of them weren’t good things. One, it was a terrible display of offensive basketball (and it wasn’t particularly tied to outstanding defence) and two, it was a serious test for sports writers and copy editors to come up with as many dog puns as they possibly could.
While the second one could have been expected – come on, two tournament underdogs named the Huskies and the Bulldogs – the first one completely undermined what had been a great tournament overall.
Butler managed to even break a record held since 1941 for worst team shooting percentage in the final by going 12-for-64. It also shattered a record for fewest two-point field goals made with three. The Bulldogs didn’t even score a point in the paint for the first 30 minutes of the game and went on incredibly long field goal droughts.

UConn wasn’t too great either. Its 53 points were the lowest by the winner of the championship game since 1943. The Huskies also went a paltry 1-for-11 from three, but they still weren’t nearly as bad as Butler overall.
The big difference was the Huskies stars though. Kemba Walker wasn’t his offensive genius self scoring a paltry 16 points, but he made up for it on the boards and on defence. Jeremy Lamb and Alex Oriakhi both helped out of offence, reaching double digits.
What’s next for Walker is an easy question: The first round of the NBA draft. If there’s one thing he showed in UConn’s amazing run through the Big East tournament and through March Madness, it was that he’s great at coming up big when the spotlight’s on and that he has the skills to score at the next level. He may not be a great pro because of his size, but he could be a great off-the-bench scorer on a lot of contenders.
As for Butler’s Cinderella dynasty, this looks like the end of the line. While head coach Brad Stevens will be around for a long time, having inked a 12-year contract last year, Matt Howard’s a senior and won’t be back while Shelvin Mack is a junior but could possibly go pro. The magic is probably done for this squad.

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