Butler versus U. Conn will go down as the most poorly played NCAA basketball final in history. Butler shot an embarrassing 18.8% from the field in their 53-41 loss, and U. Conn didn’t fare much better, hitting on just just 34.5% of their shots, going just 1-for-11 on 3-pointers.
“Without question, 41 points and 12-of-64 (shooting) are not good enough to win any game, let alone the national championship,” Butler coach Brad Stevens told the Houston Chronicle.
Sure, U.Conn’s size and defense was a factor, but that alone can’t explain the paucity of performance. As I watched the game, I kept remarking to the wife as she lamented to poor quality of play compared to the NBA, “it’s not just them. It’s the venue. They’re playing in a football stadium, not a basketball arena.”
I recalled the year our TV crew attended a San Antonio Spurs game at the Alamo Dome before the RnR Marathon. Like Reliant Stadium in Houston, the Alamo Dome was built for football, not basketball. The site lines, ceiling height, the overall cavernous expanse threw off delicate spacial relationships and shot rhythms. So last night, not only was the momentus nature of a NCAA Championship weighing on the Butler kids, and the size of the U.Conn players, but the building itself contributed to the stinker of a game we saw.
One can only hope the NCAA site committee was happy with the revenue generated by the 75,000 people in attendance, because their decision to stage the Final Four in Reliant Stadium helped make this the worst display of basketball acumen in NCAA finals history. As with most sports now days, it’s no longer about the game or the players. It’s all about the revenue, and in the end the players suffer the ignominy for institutional greed.