There’s no sugarcoating with talk of fantastic defense. The 2011 NCAA championship game was bad. Awful. Nearly unwatchable. As Jay Bilas tweeted, “no defense is good enough to cause a good offense to be that bad.”
Oh sure, you’ll read about how well the defenses played. In terms of effort, that’s undeniable. Both teams exerted themselves on defense, challenging shots and pressuring ball-handlers. That’s certainly praiseworthy, which was talked about afterward.
“If you like it wide open and you want nothing but a 49-42 football game with a lot of scores, it wasn’t your game. If you want two teams, I can tell the way they play, they gave it everything they have. To me that’s beauty,” UConn coach Jim Calhoun said. “Yeah, you’d like a few more baskets made certainly. But it was two teams that weren’t going to give into each other and finally our superiority took over. But, damn, I loved it in the sense of the fact of the fight, competitiveness between the two teams.”
Calhoun and UConn fans may have been the only ones. The rest of us watched, jaws agape, amazed at the sheer amount of missed shots by both teams. It got so bad, it was a surreal sight.
Who knew so many shots could go awry? Who knew UConn could go 1 for 13 from beyond the arc and still win by 12?
When Butler makes just 12 of 64 shots, that’s how. Some amazing – in a bad way – stats:
- The teams combined to miss 88 of 119 field-goal attempts.
- Butler’s 12 made shots were the second fewest in championship game history.
- It’s 18.8 field-goal percentage? It was the worst.
- The Bulldogs were 3 for 31 from inside the arc (9 of 33 beyond it), which will surely never be topped again. Heck, it was the worst 2-point percentage of any game this season.
And it happened on the Monday night that matters!
Left me feeling like the guy in old Alka Setzer ads, but instead of eating, I was watching the whole thing. And I felt bad for the Bulldogs.
At first, they couldn’t hit because of UConn’s defense. The Huskies were bigger, longer and made just about every attempt a nightmare for Brad Stevens’ squad. But when so many shots wouldn’t fall things got out of hand. Butler wanted to shoot and stretch the UConn defense, but nothing was falling.
It was uncanny.
“I don’t care if they make shots. I don’t love ’em any less because we lost. You know, they’ve been terrific. You’re not always going to make shots. That’s part of the game. Very rarely will you go 12 of 64. But UConn had a lot to do with that,” Stevens said.
“For whatever reason, we just couldn’t make ’em.”
It shouldn’t detract from Butler’s run or the tournament in general though. Both teams proved themselves worthy of playing for the title by winning in the format that’s beloved as one of the greatest playoff systems in sports. So maybe they weren’t the two best teams of the season. So what?
For one night, nothing went in. I’m just sad it had to be title night.
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