Blue Devil's Advocate

I was routing for the Duke Blue Devils to win the 2010 NCAA Championship and it was unfortunate that I failed to see the climax of this thrilling contest!

Anyway, Butler had it going but it was Duke who prevailed.

When I first read about US NCAA basketball, there were three schools that interested me – Duke, UCLA, and North Carolina. The first college game I saw was when Jerry Stackhouse was doing Jordanesque moves as team mates Rasheed Wallace, Eric Montross, Dante Calabria, Jeff McInnis, and former NCAA Final Oustanding Player of the Year and former Shell import Donald Williams watched him soar. Stack didn’t have the career of Jordan because he bounced from team to team (probably like Ricky Pierce and Dale Ellis) while Sheed had great runs with Portland and Detroit. The one thing I liked about this school is that they produced the reason why Charles Barkley is only my second-most favorite basketball player and that’s Michael Jordan. With an alumnus that also includes Hall of Famers Billy Cunningham and James Worthy, and possible Hall of Famers like Vince Carter and Antawn Jamison; I was enchanted on how North Carolina scouts its prospects.

UCLA had a stellar history dating back when John Wooden became the Red Auerbach of the late 60’s and the early 70’s. Amongst the notables were Hall of Famers Lew Alcindor (later Kareem Abdul-Jabbar), Bill Walton, and Gail Goodrich. Walt Hazzard, Henry Bibby, Sidney Wicks, Jamaal Wilkes, and Reggie Miller are players that could go into the Hall. Currently, Baron Davis, Trevor Ariza, and Darren Collison are spearheading their distinctive teams. The team that I saw had Tyus Edney, George Zidek, Toby Bailey, JR Sakuragi, Charles O’ Bannon and draft bust Ed O’Bannon. With the exception of Edney, who held his own despite getting bounced from team to team, none of the players mentioned garnered any impact for the league.

And then there’s Duke. Mike Krzyzewski is the coach behind this super-college. My first glimpse of Duke was when I saw a replay of their game against Kentucky. All I know is that Grant Hill heaved a pass to Christian Laetner and Laetner iced a turn around jumper. I love that moment because it looks like a college hoop film a la The Sixth Man (not Blue Chips). Anyway, after bearing a couple of trophies for their alma mater, Coach K found it hard to nail a Final Four appearance in the 2000’s in which critics panned on him because it seems that he is losing his mojo. As you know, Laetner was the only college player to be part of the 1992 USA Basketball "Dream" Team.

Not anymore.

The route the Blue Devils took almost always ended via routs. Arkansas-Pine Bluff fell 73-44 in the first round of the South Regional and afterwards California followed suit 68-53. Purdue was laid waste 70-57 in the Sweet Sixteen while Baylor got the boot in the Elite Eight to the tune of 78 to 71.

Then came West Virginia. The WVU Mountaineers had a mad year with “Huggy Bear” Bob Huggins taking over the coaching reins. The last time WVU got to the Final Four was when Hall of Famer Jerry West led its 1959 version to the Finals. West’s son Jonnie was part of the roster but the person running the show was Da’Sean Butler. Butler has been instrumental for the squad and up until the Final Four game it seems that this little-known Cinderella squad is going all out for a championship.

After Butler, another Butler showed up.

At first it was an individual… now it’s a community.

The college community of Butler, with a population of 4200, exhibited unity to claim their first NCAA championship. However, Coach K had other plans. While his roster has little potential to rival his past wards of Laetner, Hill, Bobby Hurley, Carlos Boozer, Elton Brand, Shane Battier, Luol Deng, Chris Duhon, Mike Dunleavy Jr., Corey Maggette, Josh McRoberts, JJ Redick, Jay Williams, and former PBA imports Chris Carrawell, Nate James, and Red Bull import Antonio Lang, they were ready to stop the almost decade-long drought this powerhouse school is experiencing.

Backup Avery Jukes had rare double digits in scoring in the first half when most of Butler’s starters are in foul trouble. Duke fared well in shooting but it was Butler that’s acting all monstrous in the rebounding area. It was 33-32 in favor of Duke when the first 20 minutes ended. I had to rely on the news because I failed to catch the last half (although I saw the halftime feature where President Barack Obama was shooting crazily in the three-point area during a quick game that’s not H-O-R-S-E). The game ended with the score of 61 to 59 where the game was decided on Brad Stevens’ timeout that amounted to nothing (thanks to Duke’s brilliant defense), Hayward’s missed attempt, and Zoubek’s free throws. This was Coach K’s fourth championship. The last time he had a championship, Battier, Williams, and Dunleavy were leading the team.

While Nolan Smith, Kyle Singler, Brian Zoubek, and Jon Scheyer are not top draft prospects but they increased their stock with the win. Singler, voted the Outstanding Player of the tournament, will likely opt to play his senior year next season. Smith would likely follow suit. Scheyer dubbed “The Jewish Jordan” is said to be a longshot for the late first round and is likely an early second round choice just like Baylor’s Butler. Zoubek is a longshot to even get a spot in NBDL Draft. Gordon Hayward, Butler U’s heart and soul is a sophomore who’ll likely crack the mid-first round of the draft.

Anyway, enough of this lengthy rambling.

The Blue Devils will celebrate tonight!


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