Monday, March 28, 2011

Butler Doesn't Want to be 'Runner-ups' Again

Posted by CoHoops DeAnte Mitchell
To some, the most important game in history for the Butler Bulldogs (27-9, 13-5) came last year against Duke, in their first ever National Championship.

To some, Butler is still considered a Cinderella mid-major team.

With their, young, but gifted head coach Brad Stevens, Butler made their second-straight Final Four with an OT thriller over No.2 seeded Florida.

The first mid-major to do so since UNLV did it in '90 and '91.

That same UNLV squad won the National Championship out of its two tries. Butler is trying to achieve the same feat.

Just after Butler punched it's ticket to the Final Four, they returned from New Orleans only to receive a standing ovation from their home fans.

Junior guard Ronald Nored was the most outspoken player saying, "I told somebody today that this year, we're going to get the real call from President Obama and not the runner-up call," which really got the crowd going.

Nored, was a key asset to last seasons team that just fell short of a National title. He did lose his starting position this season, but hasn't folded, it was only motivation to continue to get better.

In 2009, Butler needed late-game heroics from Gordon Hayward and a halfcourt shot that fell just short at the buzzer.

Coach Stevens surely wanted to win but even after defeat he told his players, "There's certainly nothing to hang your head about. I told them in there, what they've done, what they did together, will last longer than one night, regardless of the outcome."

It will be a similar feeling for Butler, but this time around, they want to win it. The Bulldogs should have a decided advantage, as far as experience goes.

This Butler team knows how to win and fight through adversity. It was just late January, early February, when you witnessed Butler lose three straight road games, one to bottom-feeder Youngstown State.

The one game at a time cliche paid dividends because, since then, Butler hasn't loss a game and went on to win the conference title and was selected as one of the 68 teams in the field after going off the radar for sometime.

The Bulldogs managed to squeak past Old Dominion in the first round after a buzzer beater by senior Matt Howard but really shocked the world with their last second defeat over No. 1 seeded Pittsburgh.

The Bulldogs, not only made two straight trips to the Final Four, but also has defeated the No. 1 and No. 2 seed in their region for the second straight year as well.

As usual, the path to the National Championship is never easy. The Bulldogs will have a tough time with one of the hottest teams in America in the VCU Rams, who are coming off a 10-point victory over No. 1 seeded Kansas.

If Butler does what is possible the next two games, this team, along with its gifted coach, should go down as one of the best teams of all-time.

Howard and Shelvin Mack have led Butler throughout the tournament thus far, but the Bulldogs will only go as far Shawn Vanzant and Khyle Marshall takes them.

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