VTM: Everyone’s biggest memories of Butler involve the infamous loss to Duke in the NCAA finals. Do you think Butler has effectively moved past that, or does it throw a small shadow on the program?
BECB: I can’t speak for all fans watching that game, but I still remember that final play as clear as day. The sound of the ball clanging off the rim and watching Matt Howard with his hands on his head, laying down at midcourt are still in my mind to this day. I really wanted Butler to win that game. How amazing would that have been? But I honestly think people have moved on from that moment. Butler started to achieve so much more after that game. They made another NCAA championship game and have seemingly gotten rid of that “mid-major” label that they were constantly associated with. They are playing in the Big East now and the program is viewed differently. But nobody talks about that loss to Duke anymore, it’s a thing of the past.
VTM: How has the program changed since Brad Stevens left for the Celtics?
BECB: The program has changed since Stevens left the Bulldogs for the NBA. Like I said earlier, Butler has lost it’s mid-major status since Stevens has left and has been viewed as a common power conference team. The aura of the team isn’t there like it was with Stevens. The aura of “We know we’re really good but you don’t know that because you haven’t seen us play and we’re going to show you”. Stevens was a big part of Butler’s success to the top ranks of college basketball and it has changed since he has left. Changed a lot actually. It feels like a completely different program between the times he left and now. Like two separate schools.
VTM: Do you think Butler has an advantage due to going dancing much more recently than Texas Tech?
BECB: I do think experience will play a huge factor in this game. Butler has been here before. They have played in these types of games for the past couple of seasons. The tournament games are like no other games you play the whole season. Everything is different during March Madness. Every possession is valued and poise and experience plays a big factor in this game. So yes, Butler has a pretty good advantage when it comes to experience but it isn’t everything.
VTM: Just how good is Roosevelt Jones?
BECB: Roosevelt Jones is Mr.Do-It-All for Butler. He literally does everything offensively for this team. He can bring the ball up the court and run the offense and his ability to get to the rim makes him a pretty big scoring threat. His size also plays a factor when it comes to rebounding the basketball. He’s sort of like how Rondae Hollis-Jefferson was for Arizona a couple of years ago expect Jones does more for Butler while being less athletic.
VTM: With how these teams match up, do you see any matchups Butler can exploit?
BECB: If there was one thing I would look at to be the key matchup in this game, I think it would be rebounding. With Jones and Kelan Martin being the main rebounding guys for Butler, it may be hard for Texas Tech to control the glass in this game. More boards mean more chances for the Butler offense to score and that’s not good for the Red Raider's defense.