Butler vs. UConn: The pregame
So the picks have been made, the story lines created and there's not much more that can be said about Butler and Connecticut.
Everybody outside the Nutmeg State wants Butler to win. Oh, and Jay Bilas, ESPN's college basketball analyst, who was pretty vehement about VCU's not having deserved an NCAA bid, just said, "Butler doesn't have the market cornered on good kids. . . . The narrative of this just escapes me."
But here's where Bilas misses what the narrative is. It's not about which teams have good kids or bad kids. It's about rooting for something different, about rooting for success coming from a different place, the place that isn't always on television. Maybe it's about enjoying the team that spends about $1.7 million (Butler) on basketball versus the team that spends $5.5 million (Connecticut). Aren't we all about doing more with less?
So if Butler can be outspent by almost $4 million and still get the trophy, what's not to like?
And maybe part of the narrative is noticing how Butler Coach Brad Stevens is continually smiling, shaking hands, being polite, enjoying the moment and still being the boss, and also noticing how Connecticut Coach Jim Calhoun seems more about screaming and berating and trying to kick the moment aside because one of his 20-year-olds didn't make the right play at the right moment.
But whatever the narrative is, it is about to end. Some other narrative will begin and we don't know what that will be. It will make itself apparent as Butler and Connecticut go at it for the 2011 NCAA men's basketball championship.
Let the narrative begin.
-- Diane Pucin
Photo: Point guards Kemba Walker of UConn and Shelvin Mack of Butler will lead their teams into the NCAA championship game tonight at Reliant Stadium in Houston. Credit: Bob Donnan / US Presswire and Mark Cornelison / McClatchy-Tribune