It’s A Love/Hate Relationship: Volume XIII

Posted by jbaumgartner on March 19th, 2013

Jesse Baumgartner is an RTC columnist. His Love/Hate column will publish each week throughout the season. In this piece he’ll review the five things he loved and hated about the previous seven days of college basketball.

Five Things I Loved This Week

I LOVED… Wisconsin senior Ryan Evans. One of the best things about conference tournament week is that you suddenly get a much larger dose of all the guys who you’ve seen for a just few highlights, or maybe a couple of prime time games. And while I was ready to stamp Wisconsin with the “lucky to make it to second weekend” label, I couldn’t help but find myself impressed with the Badgers’ discipline and the savvy, fundamentals-based game that Evans displayed during UW’s impressive run in Chicago. Plus, you can’t help but love the flat top.

Ryan Evans’ Team Impressed Over the Weekend

I LOVED… Jim Larranaga completing an incredible ACC turnaround. Winning both the regular season and conference tournament titles is a truly great accomplishment, and it seems like so often that we see teams have a great start to conference play and then flare out as we get into the tough March games that really make or break you. Though I still think the Hurricanes are vulnerable, with Shane Larkin leading the way, Miami is definitely capable of a big run, too.

I LOVED… Tournament Week. I’m embarrassed to guess how many hours I spent in front of the TV last week, but it was definitely justified. The Big Ten tourney alone was enough, but additional quality finals in the Big 12, ACC and Big East, among others, made this a vintage Couch Potato weekend.

I LOVED… how Greg Anthony has somehow gotten himself into every other college basketball TV commercial.

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Morning Five: 07.03.12 Edition

Posted by rtmsf on July 3rd, 2012

  1. Georgia Tech incoming freshman Corey Heyward will likely miss the entire 2012-13 season because of a torn ACL injury that he suffered in a pickup game late last week. The six-foot guard who spent a postgraduate year at Hargraves Military Academy was expected to contribute immediately as a backup for starting point guard Mfon Udofia, but short of a miraculously quick recovery between now and the new year, Brian Gregory will have to wait on Heyward’s first minutes in a Yellow Jacket uniform. Gregory has an experienced group of starters returning next season from a 4-12 last-place ACC finisher, but it remains to be seen whether all that returning talent will equate to wins.
  2. A total of 10 schools lost lottery picks in last week’s NBA Draft, with Connecticut, Kentucky and North Carolina combining for seven, equivalent to half of the lottery selections. Jason King takes a look at how each team plans on replacing the lost talent, ultimately concluding that most of the programs that put players in this year’s lottery will just move on to its next generation of stars. A couple of programs are notable exceptions, though — Weber State’s Damian Lillard was a once-in-a-lifetime type of player for the Wildcats, while Illinois’ Meyers Leonard‘s ascent up the draft boards this year was a bit flukish and, as such, it will take John Groce some time to get his program turned around in Champaign.
  3. We noted in a piece yesterday that a number of prominent seniors were left at the draft altar last week, thanking them for four years of memories and wishing them the best of luck in pursuing their professional dreams wherever they end up. Matt Norlander took us two steps further with his article Monday dissecting the commonly held perception that recognizable and talented seniors no longer exist in college basketball. His back-of-the-envelope analysis of the number of seniors drafted in the one-and-done era shows that roughly a third of the draft is populated by the likes of Festus Ezeli, Tyler Zeller, Damian Lillard, Draymond Green, and others each year, and it is many of these folks who drive the sport forward just as much or perhaps even more so than the much considerably smaller one-and-done percentage that gets so much of the annual hype. Interesting piece — read it and see what you think.
  4. It’s a light news week, so what the hell… ESPN’s college basketball and football princess, Erin Andrews, has left the network and will move on to Fox Sports as a college football, MLB and NFL reporter. For a period in the middle part of the last decade, Andrews’ basketball broadcasts were very nearly must-see TV for males under the age of ever 50. As her personal brand grew, her hoops appearances became increasingly fewer but it appears that in her new gig at Fox she’ll no longer have access to the hardwood where she earned so much of her cred. We certainly want to wish her nothing but the best as she moves on to the network featuring none other than Joe Buck and Terry Bradshaw.
  5. If you’re not cheatin’, you’re not tryin’ — so goes the old adage about life in the SEC. Charles Barkley minces no words about his stance on the issue of paying amateurs to attend certain schools (ahem, Auburn) with this hilarious clip from a celebrity softball game where he describes a teenage Dirk Nowitzki destroying Team USA in a 1997 exhibition game. The choicest series of quotes went like this: “So I call Nike and I said, ‘find out about this kid and tell him I’ll give him anything he wants to go to Auburn. Just tell him, anything he wants, we’ll get it done.’ […] “In the SEC, dude, we make sure you’re well taken care of.” Barkley went on to say that an alleged payment of $200,000 for Cam Newton seemed like a pretty good deal, considering that he led the Tigers to a national championship in his only season on the Plains. When is the Chuckster running for governor again?

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The Dream Team 20 Years Later: Reflecting On Their College Careers

Posted by EJacoby on June 13th, 2012

On Wednesday night, NBA TV will air “The Dream Team,” a brand new documentary that relives the 1992 Men’s Basketball USA Olympic Team that’s better known by that same name. This summer marks the 20th anniversary of the team, the inspiration behind documenting the players, and their legendary run through the 1992 Barcelona Olympics. The national team of 12 players included 11 future Hall of Famers and some of the greatest players in basketball history all in one locker room. The forgotten member of the team is Christian Laettner, the lone collegian at the time to make the squad, who was coming off of one of the greatest NCAA basketball careers of all-time as a two-time National Champion for Duke. Looking back, how did the other 11 players fare in their amateur careers? Was their collective NBA and international success predicated by dominance in college? On the day the documentary airs, we reflect on the Dream Team from a college perspective.

Michael Jordan hit the game-winning shot in the 1982 National Championship game for North Carolina 10 years before he joined the Dream Team (AP Photo)

As it turns out, the team wasn’t just a collection of all-time great professionals. Exactly half the players on the roster also qualify as some of the greatest collegiate players ever. Six players on the Dream Team were included on ESPN’s list of the 25 greatest players in college basketball history, the highest of whom was Larry Bird at #9. Bird averaged 30.3 points per game in his career at Indiana State, and in his senior National Player of the Year season he led the Sycamores to a 33-1 record and a loss in the National Title game to Michigan State and Magic Johnson. Johnson is another one of the greatest collegians on the list (#15), averaging 17.1 points, 7.6 rebounds, and 7.9 assists per game in two seasons for the Spartans that became a preview of the stat-sheet stuffing machine he would become in the NBA.

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The RTC Interview Series: One-on-One With Kenny Smith

Posted by rtmsf on March 22nd, 2012

Rush The Court is back with another edition of One on One: An Interview Series, which we will bring you periodically throughout the year. If you have any specific interview requests or want us to interview you, shoot us an email at rushthecourt@yahoo.com.

Last week we were lucky enough to spend 15 minutes with one-half of the Inside the NBA analyst crew on TNT, Charles Barkley. This week we are back with his compatriot on that show as well as during Turner Sports’ studio coverage of the NCAA Tournament, Kenny Smith. The Jet is promoting Coke Zero during March Madness with its Watch & Score Instant Win Game, where fans  pick a team to advance to the next round and a with a correct pick, a shot at winning a trip to the 2013 Final Four in Atlanta. 

Kenny Plays off Barkley on Inside the NBA on TNT

Rush the Court: Kenny, let’s jump right in to the biggest news coming out of the weekend, which is that the point guard at your alma mater, North Carolina, has a broken wrist and may or may not be able to play this coming weekend. Can you relate the situation facing Kendall Marshall and UNC right now to the situation you dealt with in your freshman season there when you broke your wrist?

Kenny Smith: Except for the timing of it, it’s pretty much exact. He broke his wrist. I broke my wrist. He has a pin in his wrist. I have a pin in my wrist. At the time, I was out three or four weeks and it was earlier in the season, but I had to wear a cast when I came back. Keep in mind, though, this is not an injury. This is not an injury like a sprained ankle. This is a break. It’s broken. He has a broken wrist. Guys can play through a sprained ankle or whatever else if it’s an injury, but this is a broken bone. What makes him a great player is his ability to distribute the basketball. His effectiveness is a little different than what I could do then, in terms of scoring and so forth, but I am not sure that he can get back on the court and play with a broken wrist.

RTC: He had surgery on Monday and nobody seems to be able to say whether he’ll be able to play or not at this point. My question is whether a guy who isn’t necessarily a great scorer needs to have full capacity of both hands in order to help his team out. Can he dribble or distribute the ball at all with a pin in his wrist five days after breaking it?

KS: The question isn’t whether he can do those things, the question is whether he can get on the court. Because if he can get on the court, he can manage it. But when you’re talking about a broken wrist and whether it will bend without terrible pain or even if you can move it at all, that’s the bigger issue. But if he can get on the court, he can manage it. The problem is that very few people in his position can get on the court that quickly.

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Morning Five: 03.16.12 Edition

Posted by nvr1983 on March 16th, 2012

  1. With how his team has performed this season we figured it would only be a matter of time before something and in the end it was the coach who made the first move. Yesterday, Rick Stansbury announced that he was stepping down as coach at Mississippi State. To those who followed the program it should not be that much of a surprise despite Stansbury’s 293-165 record in 14 seasons at the school. Despite loading up on enough talent to easily make the NCAA Tournament, Stansbury could not coax his team to play well. At the end of the season one of the team’s stars stated that he did not think that his team had the resolve to bounce back to make the NCAA Tournament. Fittingly, Stansbury’s career ended with his team playing uninspired during a home loss in the first round of the NIT.
  2. It was 23 years ago that Rumeal Robinson sank two of the biggest free throws in college basketball history to give Michigan a national championship. Since that time his life has been a little less than ideal. Most people who frequent this site are aware of his relatively uninspiring pro career and his legal troubles, but we have not seen a story that detailed his life as well as the one in the upcoming issue of ESPN The Magazine. You are probably going to spend most of your day looking over the carnage that is your bracket and planted on a couch watching TV, but if you are going to read one article today that isn’t directly related to the NCAA Tournament this would be an excellent one to pick.
  3. With the season nearing its conclusion (yes, we know it is awful) John Gasaway takes a look back at 12 proposed “fixes” for college basketball that he came up with in 2010 and proposes some updates. Some of the proposals have already been implemented, which John no doubt takes credit for, but some of them appear to be a long way away. Some of them are a little ridiculous (he was probably straining to get to 12 back in 2010), but there are several that we would like to see. Which ones do you think are the most reasonable to implement?
  4. Corey Schmidt, Gasaway’s colleague at Basketball Prospectus, goes with someone a little more in their site’s wheelhouse–analyzing whether or not you need a go-to player to win a national championship. After looking at the data, we are not sure that the data says a lot other than you can win it different ways. While the raw data in the post is interesting we would like to see someone provide some work with a “control” (or case control) team that did not win the championship. The data set being used is obviously too small to come to any legitimate conclusions, but it could serve as a nice starting point for someone to build on for a bigger project.
  5. If you were overwhelmed by all the action yesterday and need to catch up, we have you covered. Outside of our interview with Charles Barkley we also filed our new “Rushed Reaction” from courtside of every single game yesterday. We plan on doing the latter again today and if you are looking for more direct interaction beyond our national Twitter feed, we suggest you check out our feeds for the East, South, Midwest, and West regions. Our correspondents will be filing direct reports from all the locations within the region including pictures and answering any questions you may have.
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The RTC Interview Series: One on One With Charles Barkley

Posted by rtmsf on March 15th, 2012

Rush The Court is back with another edition of One on One: An Interview Series, which we will bring you periodically throughout the year. If you have any specific interview requests or want us to interview you, shoot us an email at rushthecourt@yahoo.com.

Hall of Fame power forward Charles Barkley has become without question one of the most entertaining analysts on sports television. TNT’s Inside the NBA has been must-watch television for over a decade now in large part because of his wit and wisdom, and Barkley’s recent foray into college basketball analysis with Turner Sports has helped pick up what had been a somewhat stuffy studio environment. For the past month, Rush the Court has been providing a weekly column  called What Would Charles Say? on Barkley’s website, and he was gracious enough to allow us to spend some time with him this week for a short Q&A. 

Charles Barkley Will Provide Analysis All March Long for the NCAA Tournament

Rush the Court: Charles, the big news early this week was the news that Fab Melo was ruled ineligible for the NCAA Tournament. I was hoping to get your take on how you feel that impacts the chances for Syracuse and Jim Boeheim to get to the Final Four and win a national championship this year?

Charles Barkley: Well, I think that they probably can’t win the championship, but they’re still deep enough to go deep into the Tournament. But I don’t think they can win it without him… but they’re still the deepest team in the Tournament, honestly, top to bottom.

RTC: So the news has come out that this relates to an academic issue for Melo, and with all the academic services that schools give these guys nowadays, how does that happen? How do you drop the ball so badly that you’re not even eligible for the Tournament?

CB: Well, to me it’s very frustrating, because if you get this deep in the season, you should already have all that stuff squared away. I mean… c’mon man. You’re really letting your team down at this point.

RTC: Certainly. Well let me ask you about last year, there was a little bit of criticism with you, Kenny [Smith], and Ernie [Johnson], as knowledgeable as you guys are about NBA stuff, coming in to the college basketball world and giving your takes with maybe not having watched games the whole season. But that ended very quickly with your take on the Big East — how it wasn’t as good as everybody thought — with nine out of the 11 teams gone by the end of the first weekend. Do you have any early takes this year on maybe a conference or teams that you’re just not buying?

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Morning Five: 03.08.12 Edition

Posted by nvr1983 on March 8th, 2012

  1. Just eight years after essentially getting kicked out of the Big East for its poor on-field performance and attendance numbers Temple will rejoin the conference. Yesterday, the Big East announced that Temple would be returning to the conference for football this coming season and other sports the following year. The move ensures that the Big East will have eight football teams for the coming season and gives the Big East another very strong basketball program. In addition, it should create an even more interesting dynamic between Temple and Villanova now that they will be in the same conference.
  2. One of the big storylines of the opening week of the NCAA Tournament will be that of Detroit, which features the father-son combination of Ray McCallum Jr and Sr. Most college basketball fans are very familiar with their story, but if you need a refresher before next week’s onslaught, this column is a pretty good place to start. Between the father-son combo and the school’s former coach (some guy named Vitale) the school will be getting plenty of publicity as long as they stay alive.
  3. One player who will not be part of March Madness is Arizona‘s freshmen guard Josiah Turner, who was suspended indefinitely by the school after violating unspecified team rules. The suspension is Turner’s second this year as he missed a game earlier this season against Florida. Turner, who came in as a highly touted recruit, has averaged 6.8 points and 2.4 rebounds per game in 29 games this season. Even with him the Wildcats would have been hard pressed to make a run in a weak Pac-12 conference, but as a local writer points out Turner’s absence is a big blow for the team right now.
  4. There have been plenty of columns on Bruce Weber and his imminent firing at Illinois, but most have focused on where he faltered. Michael Rosenberg takes a decidedly different approach choosing instead to focus on the decision to fire Weber and how it reflects on the current state of college athletics. Rosenberg compares Weber to Illinois legend Lou Henson and points out some small changes to history that would have led to Weber keeping his job. While we do find Rosenberg’s take interesting, it is worth pointing out that those small changes are essentially what makes history, which will most likely be demonstrated again over the next four weeks.
  5. Last year Charles Barkley‘s inclusion on the Selection Special on CBS created quite a bit of discussion among college basketball fans as Barkley, who is fantastic analyzing basketball games appeared out of his element discussing some teams and their resumes to that point. This year, Barkley will not be involved in the show, but will continue to be involved in the studio analysis. Both Barkley and CBS/Turner state that the move isn’t necessarily due to a lack of trust in Barkley, but instead a move to highlight his strengths and frankly a good move in our opinion.
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Charles Barkley Thinks Harrison Barnes Should Go #1 in the NBA Draft

Posted by mpatton on December 16th, 2011

Adam Zagoria asked Charles Barkley who he would take first in the NBA Draft this year, and he responded, “I’m not sure if I would take that kid [Anthony Davis] No. 1″ because “that Barnes kid is a stud.” As the “Round Mound of Rebound” (which is too long to be a nickname anyway), I’m not surprised Barkley has questions about Davis’ weight. If I was concerned with size though, I think I’d take either Jared Sullinger (a slightly undersized big with a nose for the ball) based on production or Andre Drummond (Drummond has more physical tools than anyone I have ever seen live) based on upside.

But I want to ignore the weight issue for the time being. I want to talk about John Henson and Anthony Davis.

Davis Got the Block, but Henson Played a Better Game (credit: Larry Vaught)

Watching the North Carolina-Kentucky game, one couldn’t help comparing Henson and Davis. They’re both extremely tall (with 7’4″ wingspans!), great shot blockers and unfairly athletic. Henson is listed as 6’11”, 220 pounds, and Davis is listed as 6’10”, 220 pounds. If I had to guess, the heights are fairly accurate but both weights are generous. Both Henson and Davis are very raw offensively, though Henson is trying to extend his game to include a face-up jumper this year.

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Jimmer Tries Life as a Duffer, Finds Basketball Easier

Posted by rtmsf on July 18th, 2011

We now know one thing that 2010-11 National Player of the Year Jimmer Fredette won’t be doing to supplement his income while locked out by his Sacramento employers this coming year: Hitting the links.  The phrase Jimmer for three took on a whole new meaning over the weekend in Lake Tahoe, Nevada, as the tenth pick in the NBA Draft spent more time hacking around in the rough and serpentining around the greens of the American Century Championship than finding the sweet spot at the bottom of the cup.  How bad was the nation’s best college basketball player?  Gulp… even worse than Barkley.  From the Salt Lake Tribune:

Make Sure to Duck if You See These Two Behind You

Fredette finished dead last (83rd place) at the American Century Championship golf tournament on Sunday afternoon, ending up with minus-88 points. Fredette had minus-30 on Friday, minus-28 on Saturday and minus-30 on Sunday. The worst he could have gotten each day was minus-36. Jay DeMarcus of the country music group Rascal Flatts finished second-to-last at minus-83, and Charles Barkley was third-to-last at minus-68.

Basketball players with their lanky frames and inability to stand still as a general rule didn’t perform well in this tournament, with Shane Battier (#77), Digger Phelps (#72), Jason Kidd (#56), Deron Williams (#46) and Penny Hardaway (#41) joining Chuck and Jimmer in lighting up the Edgewood Golf Club with high degree of difficulty shots from every nook and cranny in the Tahoe basin.  The highest placing hoopster was former NC State star and current LA Clippers head coach, Vinny del Negro (#11), with His Airness and Jesus Shuttlesworth also placing modestly (tied at #23).

In typical good-natured Jimmer fashion, he tweeted out after his final round that he’ll be “much improved” next year.  Given the look and feel of an NBA work stoppage that will likely leak well into next calendar year, The Jimmer will certainly have plenty of time to work on his golf game.  Whether anyone will remember who he is depends on a bunch of other factors, but for at least this one year, he gave Sir Charles a reason to feel good about himself.   

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The Week That Was: NCAA Tournament Edition

Posted by rtmsf on March 22nd, 2011

David Ely is an RTC Contributor

What We Learned

It's Foolish To Think That the Big East's 2011 Tournament Record Proves That It Wasn't the Best Conference All Season

  • The Big East is not overrated; it’s just not as good as it was made out to be. The conference sent an NCAA record 11 teams into the field of 68 and Vegas set the over/under of total wins for the conference at 15.5. This year’s March Madness was supposed to be the cherry on top of an historic season, but instead the tournament has been a complete and utter disaster. Only two teams from the Big East will be playing next weekend (Connecticut and Marquette), and the only reason there are two teams remaining is because each squad beat a conference foe to advance to the Sweet 16. But let’s not jump the gun and label the Big East as the most overrated conference in the nation. For one thing, assessing the merits of a conference over a single weekend slate of games is somewhat foolish. That’s a ridiculously small sample size, especially considering during the regular season the conference posted a 34-19 record against tournament teams, according to the New York TimesNate Silver, who’s been spot-on with his analysis this month. The Big East was justified in getting 11 teams in the field — after all, Marquette made the Sweet 16 — but it was just a good conference, not an especially great one. If anything, we’re guilty of overlooking the fact that most of the teams in the Big East lacked NBA talent on their rosters (a key ingredient to any successful Final Four run). When Kemba Walker is your conference’s top NBA prospect, you know you have a talent deficit.

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That’s Debatable: NCAA First Weekend

Posted by rtmsf on March 22nd, 2011

As we head into the Sweet Sixteen round, let’s take a look back at some of the key questions and moments of the first two, er, three rounds…

RTC Take:  It was more interesting than it was the last nine years when it only involved two #16 seeds, but the only way to make it truly compelling is to pick teams with a little more national oomph than USC, VCU, UAB and Clemson. 

RTC Take: The fouls at the end of Butler/Pitt offset each other and the two no-calls appeared to be play-on situations in those games.  The Kalin Lucas travel probably wouldn’t have impacted the outcome anyway.  But the Texas five-second call seemed to be a fast whistle, and it essentially gave Arizona the daylight it needed to win the game. 

RTC Take:  We really liked the ability to surf between games without too much trouble, and the free online platforms worked great.  We did not like having entire afternoons on Saturday & Sunday limited to one game per window, though.  That could end up poorly in future years with blowouts. 

RTC Take:  It’s true that Barkley/Jet don’t do their homework, but the scene where Barkley razzed Pitino about Louisville losing in their first game and clowning the Big East was priceless, well worth putting up with the rest of it.  We’ve never seen someone so openly disdainful and dismissive of Pitino in his presence.  Awesome.

RTC Take:  Was Jimmer, still Jimmer.  His performance against Gonzaga was phenomenal, and although Kemba was equally awesome, we still think BYU would essentially be Air Force without Fredette in the lineup.

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It’s a Love/Hate Relationship: Volume XVI

Posted by jbaumgartner on March 21st, 2011

Jesse Baumgartner is an RTC contributor. In this weekly piece he’ll review the five things he loved and hated about the previous seven days of college basketball. This week, Jesse longs for a 16 to beat a 1, discusses how that Butler win can keep on winning, and says it’s time to holiday-ify the first two rounds.

Five Things I Loved This Week

I LOVED…..Charles Barkley and Kenny Smith in the studio analyzing collegiate games. And frankly, anyone who doesn’t has no sense of humor. These guys have little idea what they’re doing, and the result is an endless string of off-the-cuff observations that contrast with the measured responses from the normal college basketball analysts. My favorite moments were as follows: 1) Barkley ripping the Big East a new one right in front of guest panelist Rick Pitino. The Louisville coach was absolutely simmering as Barkley explained how the conference “has no talent,” and Pitino proceeded to guarantee that Notre Dame would knock off Florida State. That obviously didn’t work out so well. Barkley also said that his first-round picks don’t count and blamed the Cardinals for his red-heavy bracket right in front of Pitino.  2) Kenny and Chuck dissecting a zone defense. Barkley summed up his point by saying something to the extent of this: “The zone is EASIEST defense in the world to play against. You just dribble through it.” Comedy gold, people. Embrace it.

 

And You Doubted This Man?

I LOVED…..finding out the answer to this question: How long can you keep your job by selling the fact that you recruited Blake Griffin? Answer: an even two years, as we found out with Jeff Capel this week. Some (including Griffin) say he got a raw deal. I don’t know, though – Griffin is the type of recruit you should be able to use to draw other guys in. Frank Martin had a similar situation with Michael Beasley at Kansas State, and he’s still got his Wildcats in the national picture.

I LOVED…..Brad Stevens doing it again. After last year’s Cinderella run, it would have been so easy to see the Bulldogs backslide with the loss of Gordon Hayward. This run to the Sweet Sixteen cements his squad as a consistent contender, and in my mind it makes recruiting that much easier. Now you can tell prospects, “Hey, not only did we make the final against Duke, but we came back and knocked off another No. 1 seed the next year.” I still think it’s hard to see Stevens not leaving in the near future, but it’s good for the college game if he stays and keeps Butler at this level.

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