The stage was set. Blue 2, the Butler bulldog was on hand. Early on banned from the arena, he was there unaffected by the throngs of people and he did what he does best: slobber and look cute. At least he did his best….He may have been the highlight of the evening.
Two bracket busters were about to meet on center stage. Butler, a team most were routing for, and UCONN while deserving because of play since the Big East tourney, had a cloud following them not unlike the cloud that follows Pigpen. Allegations of NCAA recruiting violations swirled around their coach, while fans anxiously awaited the play of Kemba Walker. We were anticipating quite a throw down. Instead what ensued was anything but.
Overall, while the defense prevailed, the game was boring. The first half was close, low scoring with a poor shooting exhibition. We had a taste of excitement when Shelvin Mack hit a 3 in the closing seconds to put the Bulldogs in the lead going into half time. We thought now we got a game!
That is where it ended….
Weeks of exhilarating, close buzzer beater wins spoiled us…Where were the dueling 3’s from the arc? The drives to the hole? The mighty dunks? Tough defense by UCONN was the name of the game and the Bulldogs couldn’t buy a basket. While shut down, the shots they did attempt didn’t go in. Not a repeat of last years’ final that we were hoping for.
The anti-climatic final left us wanting more. The only consolation may be that Sir Charles Barkley had to eat a little crow after the UCONN win given his incessant Big East bashing over the past month.
Maybe the weeks of play takes its toll on all of us. The hype, the media, the camaraderie, the anticipation.. We have trouble accepting that a player or team may have off nights and we quickly declare that they are not worthy to be in the tourney let alone in the semi-finals or finals. With the level of play we have seen during the tourney we acquire a sense of entitlement and just expect more with each bracket advancement…but maybe that’s all there is.
Looking back, it has been a great tourney and one night should not diminish the overall excitement and unexpected high level of play that we have witnessed. The bracket sheets have been ripped up, monies paid out and in a few days, all will be forgotten. We will periodically over the next couple months hear of a new coach hire, a new promising recruit, an unexpected transfer, someone announcing for the NBA draft… as we wait patiently longing for next March only to dance again.