Posts Tagged ‘syracuse’

Home Sweet Home

 

Provided by ESPN

By Kyle Walke

Back home again in Indiana, and it seems that I can see, the gleaming candlelight, still burning bright, as the Butler Bulldogs make their first final four appearance in school history.  Maybe those aren’t the right lyrics, but I’m sure Jim Nabors won’t mind and I guarantee neither does coach Brad Stevens.  

Butler has earned the right to play in their own backyard with the ultimate home court advantage when they face Michigan State on Saturday.  Butler campus is precisely 5.7 miles from Lucas Oil Stadium where the next round of March madness (and this year has been madness) will take place.

“It’s just very special,” Butler forward Gordon Hayward said. “It would be special anywhere we went, but the fact we get to play in front of our home crowd kind of makes it a little more special.”

As a five seed many people have dubbed Butler as a true Cinderella Hoosiers story, a description hard to dismiss considering the movie “Hoosiers” was filmed at Hinkle Fieldhouse. 

However, these bulldogs have more bite than bark.  Led by an even keeled Stevens, Butler has now managed to control top tier teams such as Syracuse and Kansas State.  When facing one seed Syracuse, Butler led virtually the entire game until 5:23 left when Syracuse took a 54-50 lead.  At that point the Bulldogs rallied behind Junior forward Matt Howard to retake the lead and never look back defeating the Orangemen 63-59.

Against Kansas State the story was the same.  Butler jumped out to an early lead and held strong until 3:09 remaining when Kansas State tied the score.  Although Hayward’s 22 points 9 rebounds would prove too much as Butler went on to win in convincing fashion 63-56.

It’s hard to imagine a team that’s won 24 straight games, been ranked all year long, and beaten two top seeds could possibly be an underdog.

“I don’t care about being called a Cinderella or a mid-major Stevens said.  “We don’t have resources that other teams have, and that’s just a fact. But resources don’t win games. We have a lot of guys with big hearts. Why wouldn’t you want to be called that? Why wouldn’t you want to be an overachiever?”

It’s better to describe this as a team with big hearts more than overachievers.  Most of the players are from Indiana, including stars Hayward (Brownsburg) and Howard (Connersville).  Stevens himself is an Indiana native who played basketball for Zionsville and then coached at Carmel before joining the Butler squad in 2000.  The Bulldogs may be outsized, but rarely have been outhustled. 

You can say its “Hoosiers,” you can call it karma, but these boys are primed for a chance to win an NCAA National Championship right down the street in the city they call home, Indianapolis.

Quotes from ESPN’S “Bulldogs set to be hometown heroes.”