Thursday, March 19, 2009

Is This the End, Or the Beginning?

I'm not one that's very big on silver linings. Some would call that pessimistic, I would call it realistic.

So what's the reality for Butler following their 75-71 NCAA 1st-Round loss to LSU?

Yes, they fought hard. Yes, their season is over. And yes, this is going to be a fantastic team the next few seasons.

It's impossible to ignore this team's youth, and it would be equally as ignorant to say that there weren't some "young" mistakes made in today's season-ender. Then again, those kind of mistakes come with the territory when Butler's 3 freshmen starters all played 33 minutes or more.

After the game it was evident how disappointed the Bulldogs were to be going home...freshmen, sophomores, and juniors alike.

One thing that Coach Stevens said during his news conference really stuck out to me. He mentioned how there have been very few times in his coaching career at Butler where an opposing player has been able to essentially dominate a game. That's basically what LSU's Marcus Thornton did today in scoring 30 points (10-15 FGs, 3-4 3pt FGs, 7-8 FTs) while pulling down 6 rebounds, dishing out 4 assists, committing just 1 turnover, and notching 4 steals.

Think about that stat-line for a minute. And it's not like he did it without defenders running at him all day.

Anyway, it was a really well-played and well-officiated game in my humble opinion. During the game I couldn't help but think about how disappointed Matt Howard was in his own performance last season following Butler's 2nd-Round NCAA loss to Tennessee. He certainly got a little redemption today, owning the post the entire time he was on the floor.

Of course, last season Howard was a freshman...and many might attribute his "youth" to being a reason why he struggled in the NCAA Tournament. Today, however, Butler had two freshmen score in double-figures (Mack - 18, Hayward - 12).

As an SEC writer sitting next to me during the game put it, "Imagine what this team is going to be like in two years?!?"

We won't have to imagine...we'll be watching it.

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