It wasn’t that the Butler Bulldogs showed up and played a bad game of basketball in the
last night. Most everyone has a clunker sometime. What was depressing about Butler was that the plucky underdogs weren’t even trying to play basketball—they were just chucking three-pointers, hoping to get hot enough from long range to make up for the fact that they were incapable of doing anything else.
Connecticut’s Jim Calhoun is a crooked coach, but righteousness doesn’t have much to do with talent. The only pleasure to be had from the title game was seeing Butler try to chip away at UConn with its slow, methodical, disciplined passing game, to create an open shot—only to have one of the non-methodical Huskies recover in time to leap over and swat the ball. That’s the kind of basketball allegory I grew up enjoying.
So the game ended, after 40 long minutes of scoreboard-clock time, with Butler having made 3 of 31 shots from inside the three-point line and having scored 2 points in the paint. Overall, with their three-pointers included, the Bulldogs shot 18.8 percent, the worst performance ever in the tournament final.
Does that make Connecticut’s victory less impressive than even the title won by last year’s
, also against Butler? This year’s Butler team was worse than last year’s; on the other hand, last year’s game came down to the buzzer, while UConn won this one handily, if sloppily. Sorry, Blue Devils. (Not really.)
But Jon Scheyer and friends still have a chance to get off the hook. Calhoun is already facing a
next season for “failure to monitor and promote an atmosphere of compliance” in his program’s recruiting, as the NCAA delicately put it. If UConn gets caught having done anything else, Calhoun could follow in the footsteps of his
for the second time in his career.
Should that happen, then either the title would be vacant, or the bricklaying Butler team would be the retroactive champions. Duke stunk last year, but they weren’t as bad as Butler. And they were definitely better than nobody.