You’ve heard about the Butler Way: Unselfish, disciplined basketball that relies on high-percentage shots or 3-pointers and limiting opponents to just one shot. It worked well enough for the Bulldogs to reach last NCAA championship and return to the Sweet 16 this season.
Thing is, it also describes their opponent: Bo Ryan’s Wisconsin team.
“They don’t beat themselves so we’re going to have to beat them,” Wisconsin freshman Josh Gasser said. “That’s a lot like how we play.”
The two programs recognize as much. Ryan lauded Butler’s program earlier this week. Bulldogs coach Brad Stevens did the same.
“I could sit up here and flatter them all day,” Stevens said. “I’ll telling you what — why wouldn’t you want to play a way where everybody is completely unselfish?
Both program owe a portion of their success and style to one guy: former Wisconsin coach Dick Bennett.
As recounted by the Green Bay Press-Gazette’s Rob Demovsky, former Butler coach (and current athletic director) Barry Collier spent a summer learning principles Bennett prized – defense and ball control. He instilled that philosophy into the Bulldogs, where its carried over from coaches like Thad Matta, Todd Lickliter and now Stevens.
Neither Ryan or Stevens use Bennett’s exact style, but the same principles are there. Smart basketball. Great defense. Teamwork.
Not a bad matchup for a Sweet 16.
You also can follow me on Twitter @MikeMillerNBC.