I know that 98% of the people that were watching the game last night probably wanted Butler to win. I followed ESPN's live chat and read comment after comment about how much someone either A) wanted Butler to win or B) wanted Duke to lose. I received a text from a future groomsman with the following question and answer "What percentage of America do you think is rooting for Duke? I think it is their student body plus you." This was after reading articles about either why you should hate Duke or why you shouldn't hate Duke. It was as if the sport of basketball had been replaced with a vote on who would make homecoming court. The answer was crystal clear that Duke was not the popular girl at homecoming.
Butler played well, but Duke won. You should know that by now even if some people (ex.Pat Forde) have seemed to focus more on the Bulter part than the Duke part. I mean I get it. They were the underdogs. They filmed Hoosiers at Hinkle Fieldhouse. The fact that CBS even played the Hoosiers theme before a late TV timeout made it clear that Butler was the story of the game. Well, the game is over and the score at the end of the game was 61-59. Duke won and I am going to celebrate that. I am going to buy as many things as I can that say Duke 2010 NCAA champions on it. I am going to enjoy this victory. There is no reason for me to feel like I should walk around having to apologize for being a Duke fan and for Duke winning last night.
Since the title of this blog starts off with the word "Thoughts" I might as well continue with the theme and give you my quick hits on the game.
- The first half was almost more emotional to me than the 2nd half. After the West Virginia game I really thought Duke was going to do the same thing to Butler. The first half was a close, slugfest that made my original prediction look incredibly wrong.
- Things that concerned me most in the first half was the offensive rebounds that Butler was getting, the poor foul shooting and the fact the refs were letting a lot of contact go uncalled.
- People can and will always complain about the refs. Even after the West Virginia game people were complaining that Duke got all the calls. It is as if some people just copy and paste the same comment after every game. The fact that some people (including one person at work today) said the refs handed Duke the game last night is absurd. The refs were all over the place on a lot of calls and I can't say the favored one team or the other. I do know that the way they were refereeing (letting the physical play go uncalled) favored Butler. The only way that Butler could matchup with the size of Duke's post players and the skill of their guards was to hit, bump, grab and basically make things as difficult as possible for Duke to run their offense. The refs let that go....which is fine since you don't want to see a title game ruined by disqualifications and sloppy play because of too many whistles. However, if you want to bring in the argument that Duke got all the calls in a game where the free throws were almost even then I am going to have to disagree with you.
- One last disagreement on the refs and I will leave that alone is that Singler got fouled on a moving pick by Howard right before Hayward shot that half court shot. One person asked me today about what I was thinking when the shot was taken. My answer was that I wasn't even thinking it was going to count because I was waiting for a whistle to be called on that blatant moving screen. I mean Howard would have been called for a 15 yard penalty if that was football and he was a safety hitting a wide receiver. Joe Posnanski wrote about that shot in his post Magical game comes down to last shot and Duke earns greatness - "Butler's Howard set a crushing pick on Singler, a certain foul except no referee is calling a foul there."
- M has never watched a National Title game for a team I cared about with me before last night and she might never again. I am an emotional wreck during most games, but a game for the National Title is another level.
- Coach K did a great job recruiting, motivating and leading this team. He deserves the accolades from winning his 4th title. However, let this Duke fan make it be known that he got owned by 33 year old Brad Stevens last night. It wasn't quite the coaching mismatch that Coach K had over Bog Huggins, but coaching was not in Duke's favor last night.
- Stevens crafted a defensive game plan that was genius. In the 2nd half it became clear that Duke's Big Three weren't going to be able to breathe against Butler' defense. The strategy from Stevens was clear. Let Thomas, Zoubek, and the Plumlees do whatever they want and face guard the other 3 Duke perimeter players. It was as if they weren't even guarded Duke's bigs and just hoping that they would shoot the ball. Coach K never adjusted and never had Duke do anything besides the same offensive sets where Singler and Scheyer would run themselves around screens trying to get free while Smith dribbled the ball as the shot clock winded down. It was predictable and with Butler's incredibly talented defensive players it was unsuccessful for Duke.
- Nolan Smith led this team to the title game. The games he played against Purdue, Baylor and West Virginia should make anyone's highlight reel from Duke's run. However, in the title game he played a below average game. He dribbled the ball too much and never really found his shot. He was 5-15 from the field, 1-5 from three and only 2-5 from the line. His biggest play was the missed layup with 1:18 left in the game and Duke with a 3 point lead. He makes that gimme layup and we might never have to discuss the two Hayward shots missed at the end.
- Hayward might look like a baby face, but he was one of the most physical players on the court last night. One play he just shoved Lance Thomas out of the way and got the offensive rebound. It is hard to imagine him not making it in the NBA as at least a rotation player.
- If you would have paused either of those last Hayward shots in the middle of them I would have bet a lot of money that they were going to go in.
- Zoubek: Great defense and rebound at the end of the game.
- I would have liked to see Mason Plumlee and Andre Dawkins play more in the game (and this season), but it is hard to argue with the result.
- Singler played well this tournament (excluding the Baylor game) and if his goal is to go as high in the draft as possible then he should leave now. His stock is never going to be higher than winning the MOP for a title winning team. I have my doubts of him being a pro player and I would want him to stick around to help Duke go for back to back titles, but I can't fault him if he goes pro.
- Jon Scheyer - Can you be a great, underrated Duke player who won a National Title? He is someone who have really enjoyed watching over the 4 years and it will be sad to see him leave Durham.
- Do you think that Greg Paulus and Josh McRoberts were watching the game together and thinking that should have been them? In 2005 they were the 11th and 2nd ranked players high school seniors and both were going to a Duke team that was only a year removed from the Final Four. Things didn't work out as well for them as UNC's recruits that year; Tyler Hansbrough (10th), Danny Green (31st), Marcus Ginyard (38th) and Bobby Frasor (51st). Somehow I think this title was even more appropriate after the end of that recruiting error had finally graduated.
- Class move by brother in law with the text "Nice win. Enjoy. Parity returns to Tobacco Road next season."
- The level of respect between Duke and UNC should increase now. Both have their titles. Both have arguments in the rivalry now. I no longer feel like the red headed stepchild (ie NC State) of North Carolina.
- If you were wondering what way this post could have gone please read this article (warning: not for anyone who is sensitive about cussing) from a Duke blogger. This Duke blogger is somebody who defended Tyler Hansbrough.
- I will have to rewatch the game some time to see what else happened. Last night I spent a good portion of the 2nd half either pacing around, curled up in a fetal position or on the floor. The on the floor part was during the last shot.
- It was nice counting the $$$ I made from one pool that I picked Duke to win it all in.
Anyway, I know this is cheesy, but I had to take a few pictures from the TV coverage last night. Congrats Duke. 2010 National Champions.