Monday, April 4, 2011

Hoosiers II

The question, somewhat rhetorical, was posed by a colleague between editions Sunday night on the sports desk at the New York Post:

"Is there anyone in the country not rooting for Butler?"

Good question, with seemingly only one answer -- unless you're a student or alumnus of Connecticut or need UConn to win tonight in order to win your bracket pool ... NO!

Full disclosure: I was the only entrant in the Post bracket pool (entertainment purposes only, of course) to select the Huskies to win the national championship, so I've already won, no matter what happens tonight. I do have a slight level of appreciation for UConn, but in this what-have-you-done-lately world we live in, I have to admit it would be tremendous to see Butler win the whole thing.

Sure, the miraculous Bulldogs are back in the championship game, where they lost by a mere bucket to Duke last year. And they're a real-life Hickory High, in just about every sense.
The face of their team, Matt Howard, is a quirky persona who rides a rusty bicycle around campus, and their coach, Brad Stevens, looks like the nerdy kid who's immersed in fantasy basketball stats.

And the best part of all of this is Butler plays its home games at storied Hinkle Fieldhouse, the same building in which the championship game in "Hoosiers" was filmed.

Can't you see Stevens, in Butler's final walkthrough at Reliant Stadium, pulling out the tape measure and having Shelvin Mack climb onto Howard's shoulders underneath the basket? "Ten feet," Stevens would say. "I think you'll find it's the same measurements as our gym back in Indianapolis."

Not to mention all the gauzy, poetic backstory of a team from the Mecca of Indiana basketball representing our imaginations as much as the proud region they call home.

And they might not even need Norman Dale or Jimmy Chitwood to make their dream a reality.


Had to be an awkward moment at the conclusion of the UConn-Notre Dame women's semifinal Sunday night, when Rebecca Lobo, the former Huskies star, drew the assignment of the on-court postgame interview with her former coach, Geno Auriemma, after a very rare loss that denied UConn a shot at its third straight national title.

And when Auriemma was talking about how special and wonderful Maya Moore is, you almost expected Lobo to inject, "More than me?"

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