No sequel for Thelma & Louise, MSU, or WVU.

Indy Two:  A Rocky but Super 52-50 win for Butler’s Speed-Terminators over the Final Four Godfather has them seeking a Squeakquel, against Duke’s Lethal Weapons, who Sting WVU, 78-57

The big injuries finally took their toll.  Michigan State and West Virginia — both missing their injured Starting Point Guards — fell to healthy Butler and Duke, as the NCAA Final Four became the Final Two on Saturday.  The Butler Bulldogs, playing 6 miles from their campus in Indianapolis, held off Tom Izzo’s MSU, on a disputed non-call with 8 seconds left.  Izzo, who has taken the Spartans to the Final Four 6 times in the last 12 years (hence, “The Godfather”) was extremely bitter about the Foul Call That Wasn’t.  In his postgame interview, he showed Class and self-control by not blaming the loss on that play, and by giving credit to Butler, but he made it clear that he thought it was a foul.

With the Bulldogs up by one point, with 8 seconds left, the Spartans got the ball inside, and Draymond Green was in his range for a game-winning shot.  But defender Gordon Hayward went straight up with him, and stayed in his face, raising a hand just at the right time to force a very short airball.  It looked like great D, with a little contact that usually isn’t called on the last shot of a game.  Even the TV announcers thought it was clean.  However, Hayward himself admits that he might have gotten a piece of Green’s arm.

Butler followed the play with two Free Throws, then fouled MSU with 2 seconds left, so that the Spartans couldn’t attempt a game-tying Three.  MSU made the first, missed the second on purpose, but couldn’t get the carom, so the game ended, and the Bulldogs are headed to Monday’s Final.

It’s a shame to see a game decided by such a controversial play, but it wasn’t like Butler won on a fluke.  MSU led for almost the entire 1st Half, but Butler led for almost the entire 2nd Half.  And Butler was able to maintain that lead despite shooting a pathetic 24% from the field in the 2nd Half.  Butler actually went over 10 minutes without a basket, missing 11 shots in a row.  But MSU could not capitalize.  Without their injured Starting Point Guard, they were not a good ball-handling team, and Butler took advantage:  The Bulldogs outscored MSU 20-2 in Fast Break Points.  (In other words, they completely terminated the Spartans’ speed).

Butler looked solid, strong, and sound, but they did not look like they are in the same class as Duke, and therefore start as 7-point Underdogs in the Final.  The Blue Devils destroyed a very good West Virginia team 78-57.  WVU, playing without their Starting Point Guard, also had a little trouble handling the ball.  They had only 10 Turnovers, which isn’t too bad, except that Duke committed only 5.

But having double the Turnovers of Duke wasn’t the stat that killed the Mountaineers.  The deadly stat was Duke’s lethal 3-point shooting.  The Blue Devils hit 52% from behind the arc, going 13-25.  Compare that to WVU’s 5-12, and that’s a 24-point discrepancy.  Duke’s big 3 (Scheyer, Singler, and Smith) all showed up this time, scoring 23, 21, and 19.

The Blue Devils were up only 8 at the Break, but started to pull away halfway through the Second Half.  The lead was 15 with 8 minutes left, when WVU’s star player Da’Sean Butler hurt his knee, severely.  Butler was in excruciating pain, so Head Coach Bob Huggins came out and hugged him on the ground, to help him get through the pain.  It was an amazingly poignant moment, that took a lot of the joy out of one helluva Duke performance.

Duke won the game from downtown, but also, their Center Brian Zoubek was a force on the inside, pulling down 10 Rebounds.  Of those 10 Boards, 5 were on the Offensive end, and Duke’s second chances allowed them to take control.

Horizon League Champion Butler has the Nation’s longest winning streak at 25 straight, and has beaten #1 Seed Syracuse already.  But the Bulldogs will NOT be able to absorb another 10-minute shooting drought against Duke.  It is difficult to envision Butler’s Offense keeping up with Duke’s.  Even Butler’s smothering Defense won’t be able to stop Duke’s outside game.  But teams who rely on outside shooting are always vulnerable to just having a COLD night, in which case the Bulldogs could hold Duke down to a score where Butler could be competitive.  Perhaps Duke will get in foul trouble, like MSU did.  I’m not saying Butler has no hope, but rooting for them whole-heartedly on Monday night is NOT looking like a rewarding proposition.  The Bulldogs will really need that home court advantage to make it interesting.

Not only will the fans at the game be rooting for Butler, but so will most people outside of Duke-land.  In fact, there was an aritcle the other day in the Indianapolis Star which depicted Duke’s Coach Krzyzewski with HORNS.  Could it be… Satan??  Sure the Nation hates Duke and sees them as evil.  The Nation has watched for 20 years as Duke gets preferential treatment by Donaghy-like referees and gets constantly deified by Dick Vitale and the entire ESPN organization.

So no one should be surprised by the horn-y depiction, ESPECIALLY when you realize that the school’s nickname is the Blue DEVILS!!!  But Krzyzewski still whined.  You would think that a guy nicknamed “Ratface” would be used to Media abuse, insults, and parodies.  But Coach K actually complained that it was juvenile, and that he was mad that his Grandkids had to be exposed to it.   The paper issued a formal apology!

Has Coach K ever seen the Internet?  How out of touch has this guy become in 20 years?  Well, he’s about to get the last laugh on Monday night, assuming that he hasn’t completely lost his sense of humor.

Now, in honor of there being only TWO teams left standing, here are 17 UCLA Cheerleader “Two-shots.”

At least no one will be calling this year’s Duke team “The Best Team Ever.”

Only 2 Bulldogs scored field goals in the 1st Half, but it was still 28-28 at the Intermission.

Duke hasn’t been to the Final in 9 years, when they last won it all.  Butler, of course, has never been to a Final.  Go Bulldogs!

One of Butler’s stars got injured on Saturday — If he isn’t 100% on Monday night, Butler might be finished by Halftime.

I don’t remember a past Tourney so influenced by late-season injuries.  Purdue, Syracuse, MSU, WVU… and UCLA, who almost beat Butler, and would have made the Tourney if healthy all year.

Duke’s celebration may have to be a little muted, since they will be completely surrounded by Butler fans.  Or maybe they’ll party twice as hard.

A Butler upset would pave the way for expansion of the Tournament to 96 teams.

I haven’t mentioned this in an article yet, but:  Bruin Brendan Lane is having ankle surgery that will keep him out for 5 months.  Ouch.

In other big L.A. Basketball news:  Kobe just signed an extension to stay a Laker through 2014.

Jordan Farmar probably won’t be that lucky.

And if Farmar is not retained, let’s hope they pick up Darren Collison, or at least one other Bruin.

North Carolina lost the NIT Final;  Now maybe Duke can lose a Final too.  I wonder who the Tarheels are rooting for.

In Bruin Football News, CB Brandon Sermons broke his leg in a freak accident.  Double-ouch.

In L.A. Baseball, the Angels swept the Dodgers in their meaningless Freeway Series, but it could be foreshadowing.

Don’t forget:  Sunday, April 11th is the UCLA Spirit Squad’s Fan Afternoon Reception, and you are invited!

Neuheisel and Chow will be speaking at the Cheer Event — That’s two more good reasons to attend.

Last one for today — Happy Easter to all non-trojans, from a long-time Bunny fan.


4 responses to “DIE HARD TWO”

  1. SVCATOSCMO Avatar

    Editorialize this all you want. I believe that Duke is in the finals because they recruit more good/great white players, who seem more likely to stay in school longer than good/great black players, than other schools. Experience counts – just ask one of the kings in college basketball attrition, UCLA.

    I will leave it up to the readers to decide as to whether Ratface intentionally recruits more white players than other schools, and why good/great white players would stay in school longer.

  2. BL Avatar

    Why so many repeat shots and other girls not featured at all??

    [T-H’s Note: Repeat shots? I haven’t repeated ANY shots. Some are similar, taken seconds apart, but each one is unique. As for neglecting certain girls, I’ve been trying really hard to spread the love. The only exception is the Dance Teamer who left recently, because I don’t know the circumstances of her departure, and just in case there are any bad feelings involved, I thought I shouldn’t feature her too much. And btw, I sincerely hope she’s okay (unless there’s some secret reason why I shouldn’t). But I know you’re all about the Cheer Squad, so let’s see: I know I’ve shown Roxann, Chantel, and Katie B. the most, but it’s just a coincidence that they are the ones who “know” me and are always very nice to me. I try to show everyone. It’s actually about which shots come out the most crisp and clear. I do have opinions about who are the cutest of the cute, but I usually shoot whoever happens to be closest to me, and I post the shots that are the sharpest. In other words, almost all the shots have cute subject matter — but the shots don’t always do them justice. I pick the shots that do. IF YOU HAVE ANY REQUESTS, LET ME KNOW. I would happily devote an entire pictorial to the girl of your choice, assuming I can find previously-unpublished shots of her in my files, which I probably can.]

  3. BL Avatar

    Did not mean to upset you, it’s my opinion. Same two girls in different pictures, still same two girls, and that is what I meant by repeat shots.

  4. Sparky Avatar

    BL, maybe it appears that TH takes photos of the same two girls often but is that a problem if your talking about Brianna and Katie, the two most beautiful girls of the group? Just relax and enjoy the view. And TH, if you ever decide to do one or a dozen pictorials on Brianna or Katie, (or Michelle or Elize for that matter) I’m sure your faitlful readers will be thrilled to no end. Keep up the good work! It is appreciated!