Duke/Butler reaction

Bob Kravitz, Indy Star: If this magical, marvelous run didn’t renew a little bit of your faith in sports — and specifically college basketball — it means you’ve already drowned in cynicism and are beyond hope. Unless you’re a Duke fan — and maybe even if you’re a Duke fan — how can you fail to see the beauty in what Butler accomplished these past few weeks? … Butler changes everything, the reality of college basketball and the perception of college basketball. Gonzaga began it years ago, consistently pulling upsets and reaching the Sweet Sixteen. Then there was George Mason in the Final Four. And now, it was Butler, one field goal short of winning it all. Now, will we go back to seeing pedigreed teams and million-dollar coaches from power conferences the next five years? Yeah, that’s possible, even likely. But Butler has shown the little guy CAN get to the final. The little guy CAN take mighty Duke down to the final possession. Maybe next time, a Butler — or another mid-major — will finish the job.

Andy Katz, ESPN: Duke won this national title by being Butler. The Blue Devils were just as tough, physical and defensive-minded as the Bulldogs throughout the game. This was the mantra of a Blue Devils team that was hardly the most talented but had the mindset of a mid-major, as highly recruited players stayed three or four years. They were about team defense, half-court defense and making stops when it mattered most. Associate head coach Chris Collins said prior to the game that the Blue Devils wouldn’t be in the Final Four, playing for the national championship, had it not been for Zoubek. He was put in the starting lineup against Maryland on Feb. 13 because sophomore Miles Plumlee wasn’t playing at a high enough level. Once Zoubek was there he never left, and he became a presence that changed the outcome of games.

Dennis Dodd, CBSSports.com: These guys played for him, and got better, when it was clear this was not one of Krzyzewski’s best teams. But there is ample evidence now to crown Coach K as the best of all time. Better than Knight, better than Rupp, better than — blasphemy be damned — Wooden. Wooden and Rupp were in a different age. They didn’t have to slog through six games to win it all each year. They also didn’t have to slog through the ACC each season. Student has now surpassed teacher in the case of Knight. The numbers are, and will continue to be, there. Monday’s victory was Krzyzewski’s 868th. He’s eight behind the third-place Rupp and 34 behind Knight at No. 1. No one has won more tournament games.

Gary Parrish, CBSSports.com: At some point, most figured, Duke would turn into Duke and Butler would remember it had a roster of three-star prospects, one of whom was dealing with a mild concussion. At some point, most figured, the out-manned and undersized Bulldogs would be overwhelmed by Duke’s three guards, let things get away from them, take a runners-up trophy and head back six miles to campus not necessarily happy but appreciative of the moment. There were many times when things seemed headed that direction. When Ronald Nored picked up a second early foul was one. When Matt Howard missed a third layup was another. But then Avery Jukes would sink an open jumper or Shelvin Mack would slice through the lane for a layup, and a game that often seemed on the verge of slipping away would suddenly be tight again. Butler just kept hanging around, never trailing by more than six. It all led to an incredible moment here at this downtown dome when, with 13.6 seconds remaining and the game paused for a timeout, Brad Stevens, the 33-year-old future star whose stardom is now present, diagrammed a play for Hayward to get the ball at the top of the key while 70,930 fans yelled and clapped and chanted, mostly for a Butler team that was behind 60-59. It was a moment that looked and felt special. Regardless of what happened from that point forward, the game was an all-timer.

ESPN Classic will rebroadcast the 2010 men’s national championship game between Butler and Duke as its Instant Classic on Tuesday, April 6, at 5:30 ET.


Photo from fOTOGLIF

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