It’s my alma mater, and I’ll cheer if I want to. Briefly.
by Chris Deaton
I have a buddy who flipped when he met Big Boi the other evening.
(I’m looking at you, Jackson.)
“As a journalist, it’s important to keep composure and integrity at all times,” he wrote. But screw that. “I lost [my poo]. And I’m not ashamed.”
Why should he be? And why should I deny that my Butler fandom has reached stratospheric heights? I’m not out to hide it. This isn’t “BulldogsFaithful.com”, but my alma mater doesn’t go to the Final Four every decade — or ever, actually — so please, my journalistic brethren not named “Simmons”, grant me a reprieve. Special is rare and worthy of unique celebration, and to pretend as if I’m not biased in favor of Butler or won’t toast as high as my arm will reach is fibbing.
My cheers didn’t come at the expense of Frank Martin, because if anyone watched his postgame presser, I’d be a fool to root against his team. His class may know equals but no superiors. Martin sees the big picture — he knows K-State’s efforts made the Little Apple that much bigger, and an Elite 8 loss is not something from which to cower, but something upon which to build.
It’s too bad that Denis Clemente and Luis Colon won’t be around to see the construction. The former was hobbled and the latter was largely ineffective Saturday, but both were seniors who saw the initial chunk of a program’s ascension through. They were part of a Wildcats team that, alongside Jake Pullen and budding star Curtis Kelly, exuded class — they gave due credit to their opposition when felled, which, considering the mouth-watering openness of their side of the bracket, was a refreshing glass of water that surely helped wash down a bitter pill.
I can’t say my attitude in a similar situation would’ve been so graceful.
I’m looking forward to Gordon Hayward’s next rap and Willie Veasley’s next tap. In Indy, Bulldog fans eagerly await the return of the [Shelvin] Mack, and I eagerly await Matt Howard’s next defensive assignment, which, as we have seen, shouldn’t be Butler’s ultimate undoing, because if UTEP, Murray State, Syracuse and Kansas State couldn’t turn some existent but hardly damning chink in Butler’s armor into victory, who else will?
That’s the thing that I love about this team: maybe they’re smaller than the other guys, maybe they’re not as heralded, not as pro-ready. But who cares? They’re Tournament-ready, and it’s shown. They have moxie — as Brad Stevens has said, “resolve” — and they used it these past three games against a level of competition that made all but a handful of teams disappear into the March night.
Kudos, Butler: the program that has proudly assumed the torch lit by George Mason and carried it toward a finish-line ribbon marked, “champion”.