2011 NCAA Final: In a Cinderfella Heartbreaker, the Butler Bulldogs Fall Flat
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Clank. Clank. Clank.
It was an ugly sound, heard early and heard often Monday night in Texas.
It wasn't supposed to end like this.
It just wasn't.
A year after enduring game-ending heartbreak against the Duke Blue Devils in the National Championship, the Butler Bulldogs this year dealt with an entire night of torment in this 2011 Final.
The Bulldogs shot terribly in the first half, but still managed to head to halftime with a 22-19 lead after Shelvin Mack banged home a three to beat the clock on an ugly opening stanza of basketball.
Somehow, Butler turned in an even worse offensive during the second half. Their hustle and team defense could only keep them in the game for so long before UCONN wore them down with their size and athleticism.
19 percent shooting won't win you many games, and it certainly didn't do the job against the Huskies—who tickled the twine to a comparatively robust 36 percent.
While it was apparent early on in the game that UCONN's length would give Butler trouble, not in Brad Stevens' worst nightmare could he have imagined his team playing so poorly on the offensive.
Shelvin Mack was off. Matt Howard was beyond off. Shawn VanZant fired blanks. Andrew Smith couldn't finish up close.
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If the Butler offense had a "star" of the night, it was Chase Stigall, who hit a trio of treys, but also managed to miss eight of his 11 shots from the field.
I'm no old-timer, but I can't recall watching a major college basketball game with lower quality offense.
And that's a shame, as this tournament was one of the greats. Both Butler and UCONN played with heart and tenacity throughout their journey to the big stage.
Sadly, neither team brought their best under the bright lights, resulting in a painful finale.
It simply wasn't supposed to end like this for Butler. Not after the little-engine-that-could heartbreak of last year.
This was their year. This was their destiny.
They had survived scares and gotten the buckets they needed at every turn.
But on a night when nothing came easy against a tenacious Huskies defense, the Bulldogs couldn't convert the tough plays or the rare open look.
Butler sent home just three of 31 two point shots, and that won't get it done.
Brad Stevens ran out of answers last night. Mack and Howard couldn't answer the questions either, and no one stepped up when they stumbled.
It was supposed to be a Hollywood ending, but movies don't end this way.
Jim Calhoun and UConn's dogged defense made sure the movie never gets made.
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