UConn wins remarkable national title; but gigantic stadium ruined game

UConn just won the national championship.

I’m elated. I’m also devastated. Honestly, it’s hard to describe what I’m feeling right now. I grew up in Connecticut, and have always been a huge UConn fan, but right now I can’t help but feel terrible for Butler.

This game was in no way representative of who Butler is as a basketball team, and it sucks that people are going to remember them for shooting 18 percent in the national championship game.

It sucks that people are going to cast them off as less talented than UConn, a fluke, a mid-major novelty that somehow lucked into back-to-back national title game appearances and choked in the clutch this season. None of those things are true.

UConn may have the more talented group of individuals, but I’m not sure if we found out definitively that they are the better team.

Here’s why: the biggest basketball game of the year wasn’t played in a basketball arena.

The giant Reliant Stadium backdrop may have proven fatal to Butler’s miracle title hopes. (AP Photo)

It was played in a gigantic, 70,000-seat football stadium in which the court was placed smack dab in the middle of a wide-open field. Neither of the teams could find the basket in all that mess.

Anyone who has ever played in a domed stadium of that size knows that it drastically affects depth perception, which in turn, drastically affects shooting. It’s like taking away the batter’s eye in baseball and replacing it with white-and-red wallpaper. You’re not going to see the ball.

This affected Butler much more than UConn because the Huskies had a clear advantage in the paint.

Butler needed to knock down jump shots, like they’ve done all throughout the regular season and the NCAA Tournament. That’s usually not much of a problem for team like the Bulldogs, who have a bunch of gamers, including a big-time, money shot maker in Shelvin Mack, and a bunch of terrific three-point shooters in Shawn Vanzant, Zach Hahn, and Matt Howard.

Tonight, they looked like they were playing a different sport. They shot 12-for-64. 12 for 6-freakin’-4. Matt Howard went 1-for-13. The Bulldogs missed 21 of their first 23 shots in the second half. They scored just three two-point baskets all game. THREE. (Butler went 3-for-31).

I’m 100 percent positive that the game would have been totally different had it been played in a basketball arena.

Take nothing away from UConn. What they achieved is incredible, unthinkable, and undeniably special. Coach Jim Calhoun described it as “quite possibly the happiest moment of my life.”

I couldn’t be happier for Calhoun, who, coming off a disappointing 2010 season plagued by lackluster play and swirling NCAA rumors, found himself backed into a corner once again. Fortunately for the Huskies, that’s when he’s most dangerous.

The 68-year old came out like a pit bull whose collar just caught fire.

He took the now-legendary Kemba Walker and a bunch of freshman and went out and beat everybody in the most euphoric, impossible, dream-like championship run since Danny Manning and Kansas won it all in 1988.

It was a spectacular run to the championship for this amazing bunch of Huskies. (AP photo)

He’s a three-time cancer survivor. Now he’s a three-time national champion. This one was by far the most unlikely. It’s almost as if Calhoun has reached basketball nirvana. I can’t believe they won.

Unfortunately, I can’t believe how it happened.


Also see: 

NBA Draft Profile: Kemba Walker

Top Dogs: Kemba leads Huskies to remarkable Big East title

In conference realignment craziness, a plea UConn won’t join the fray


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