March Madness 2011: Don't Dare Calling the Butler Bulldogs a Cinderella Story

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March Madness 2011:  Don't Dare Calling the Butler Bulldogs a Cinderella Story
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March 26, 2011: Butler University head coach Brad Stevens cuts down the nets in New Orleans. He's back!

Do you know what the "Butler Way" is?  No?  Well, I do.  I'll let you in on it somewhere within this work. 

First things first, though.  I have a question for you:

How would you feel if a popular local radio host labeled your favorite skyrocketing college basketball program a "Cinderella" at the biggest basketball tournament?  You probably wouldn't like it, and I wouldn't either.

To Butler fans—or at least to one of them—calling Butler basketball a "Cinderella" is insulting.

While I was listening to a radio program one recent morning, I heard a caller insist one of the hosts shouldn't refer to the Bulldogs as a Cinderella.  A spirited discussion ensued.  The fact that it happened on a San Antonio station—a town asking us to respect the Spurs—is a shame. 

In NCAA basketball jargon, a "Cinderella" is a team coming out of nowhere to achieve great success in the National Championship chase.  In real life, "Cinderella" is a folk tale symbolizing the overcoming of unjust oppression—with a triumphant reward. 

Good over evil. 

Babylon against the Butler University Bulldogs.

The Babylonian radio host stood firm in what he perceived to be his triumphant argument that since Butler lost their best player from last year, they can be called a Cinderella. 

Streeter Lecka/Getty Images
March 26, 2011: Shelvin Mack scores in New Orleans against Florida. He helped his team win the Elite Eight matchup.

While there could be a thin line between a Cinderella story and a budding program like Butler's, the host's argument is definitely flawed.  He implies the Bulldogs are one-hit wonders in basketball.

As a budding college basketball power though, Butler has achieved wonderful success the last eight years.  The Bulldogs intend on being here to stay as a power, and I believe they will.  Anyone who does the research would probably agree.

Before 1919, Butler's teams were nicknamed the "Christians."  Legend states the name was changed because of the football team's mounting and excruciating losses.  The men's basketball team is the savior of the school's athletics right now.

Having won at least 20 games and reached postseason play in 12 of the last 14 seasons, Butler has made nine NCAA tournaments.  They made the Sweet 16 in 2003 and 2007, and of course went to back-to-back Final Fours in 2010-2011.

Since the 2006-2007 season, they sport a 15-8 record against BCS leagues—7-2 against the Big Ten.  They've done a lot along the way.

The way they ball and the program's success is the "Butler Way."  It's team style from Indiana basketball's glory days—the way the game should be played.

Butler hasn't won any NCAA titles employing this style yet, but neither has a number of other major college programs. 

Streeter Lecka/Getty Images
March 26, 2011: Matt Howard cuts the nets in the New Orleans Arena. He's helped Butler back to the Final Four.

Butler could very well bring home the bacon this year.

A sign of a great program is the production of great players, and they're building a tradition of having strong play from their guards—a winning formula in the tournament. 

Butler's junior guard A.J .Graves was a John Wooden Award National Player of the Year Finalist in 2007.  Former head coach Todd Lickliter was the National Coach of the Year back then also.

Since April 4, 2007, 34-year-old head coach Brad Stevens has been leading Butler's men's basketball program.  All he's done is go to the school's only two Final Fours.  Before the Final Four's though, he became the third-youngest head coach in NCAA Division I history to post a 30-win season. 

Last year, he broke the NCAA record for most wins by a coach in his first three years.  He also became the second-youngest head coach to make an NCAA National Championship basketball game.  His team came within two points of winning it all last year—losing to Duke 61-59 in the title game held in Indianapolis.

Headquartered in Indy, they play in the Horizon League along with Cleveland State, Detroit, Green Bay, Loyola, Milwaukee, UIC, Valparaiso, Wright State and Youngstown State. The Bulldogs have made appearances in NCAA tournaments represented by both the men's and women's basketball squads.

The men first qualified for the NCAA Division I Men's Basketball Tournament in 1962; they finished in Regional Third Place.  Their overall NCAA tournament record is just above .500 at 10-9.   

The men's tournament is often referred to as the "Big Dance."  Cinderella wasn’t supposed to be at the ball, but her Fairy Godmother made it happen.

Cinderella ended up marrying Prince Charming, who had searched his entire land for the woman who wore the famous glass slipper.  One of the morals of the story is that beauty is a rare and admirable treasure, but graciousness is of higher value.  In fact, it's priceless—like fine crystal.

Besides grace—according to the moral of the story—intelligence, courage, good breeding and common sense are talents from heaven.

Cinderella learned grace from her godmother, who taught her to behave like a queen.  Without grace and the blessings from a higher power, nothing is possible; with it, one can do anything.

Just ask the Butler Christians—I mean Bulldogs.  Just don't call them "Cinderella."

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