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Disappointing finish

Joseph Monardo | Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Monday’s NCAA men’s basketball championship provided a significant, if sloppy, conclusion to the 2010-2011 season. The uncommonly low final score of Connecticut’s 53-41 win over Butler leads me to ask only one question: When do they play the second half?

The dearth of scoring in Monday’s title game is just one of a number of reasons why the game was a disappointment to fans (myself included). Not that I need high-paced, light up the scoreboard, burn the nets down action to entertain me, but when a team shoots 18.8 percent from the field for the entire game (in the national championship, for Pete’s sake!), I can’t help but want to turn away. Butler’s shooting in the second half would have drawn ridicule from even the most polite group of bystanders at the Bookstore Tournament, so I for one am grateful that I avoided Charles Barkley’s postgame analysis.

That the Bulldogs had garnered nationwide support for its improbable run to the final game of the 2010, I mean, 2011 tournament makes their showing even more disappointing. Time and time again, Matt Howard and Shelvin Mack had led the Bulldogs against more imposing opponents, surmounting the seemingly insurmountable. Butler had proven all of us haters wrong so many times (I’m not the only one that had them losing to Old Dominion) that we had finally come to expect them to pull off stunning victory after stunning victory. But, as they have made a habit of doing, the boys from Indianapolis proved us wrong once again, this time by coming up short.

It is truly unfortunate for the Butler players and coaches, the NCAA and fans of the game that the Bulldogs turned in such a futile offensive performance. For Butler, the game serves as a blemish on a remarkable couple of years, threatening their legitimacy as a power on the court.

For the NCAA, it is lamentable that on the game’s biggest stage, a product that was anything but ideal was delivered. For the fans, the memory of the tournament darlings’ collapse, rather than any number of great moments from the past season, will remain freshest in our minds throughout the long offseason.

Compounding my disappointment in Butler’s loss is my disappointment in Connecticut’s win. Jim Calhoun is a known violator of NCAA rules, and Notre Dame outmatched the Kemba Walker-led unit twice in the regular season. Enough said.

Still, in spite of my disappointment, I realize that some congratulations are in order. First, congratulations to coach Jim Calhoun and the Connecticut Huskies for winning the national championship. Not many people had you pegged as the next national champions when this season started, and regardless of the circumstances, the feat is worthy of praise.

Second, congratulations to coach Brad Stevens and the Butler Bulldogs for reaching the championship game and for being so darn likeable. Finally, congratulations to men’s basketball for putting on such a spectacular season. I can’t wait for the madness to begin once again.