At some point the Butler Bulldogs will not be able to succeed in their seemingly never-ending game of “Top-This” However, there appears to be quite a bit more magic left in the program that Brad Stevens has built into a national power.
Saturday night, Butler defeated Gonzaga 64-63 in a game that will immediately be added to a long list of amazing performances by the Bulldogs. Trailing by one with 3.5 seconds to play, Roosevelt Jones stole a Gonzaga inbounds pass near mid-court, dribbled to the right elbow and just barely beat the final buzzer with a floater that hit nothing but net and led to a Hinkle Fieldhouse court-storming.
Just prior to a post-game interview with ESPN’s Shannon Spake, Butler coach Brad Stevens could be heard saying, “Hinkle Magic, now you know what Hinkle is all about.” Then in his typical matter of fact fashion, Stevens summed up that final play.
“That was a really lucky play for us. Great steal by Rose, got it off in time, made a great play. It was kinda like when we beat Indiana, I don’t think it tells the whole story about how good these two teams are, and shouldn’t take anything away from Gonzaga, but now this is a little bit of that Hinkle magic that everybody gets to see.”
Start to finish, Saturday was one of the best days in Hinkle Fieldhouse history, and THAT is saying something.
Stevens acknowledged the good fortune his team as been a part of this season in the post-game press conference. “I’ve got a friend in coaching that tells me that for every one of those that goes in you’ve got some coming. I guess I’ve got some coming now, after this year.”
ESPN College Gameday broadcast live Saturday morning for two hours in their season-debut telecast. During the show, Butler student Kevin Schwartz hit a half-court shot during a contest sponsored by State Farm Insurance good for $18,000. Then, Roosevelt Jones joined Schwartz in the big-shot category sending Butler to a win over the 8th-ranked team in the country.
Some interesting facts to consider from Saturday’s Butler victory.
* The Bulldogs beat Gonzaga without their leading scorer. Rotnei Clarke was given a standing ovation by the Hinkle crowd prior to the contest while delivering the game-ball to the officials. Clarke missed his second straight game after suffering a neck sprain last Saturday against Dayton.
“This shows how tough we are. Our leading scorer is out right now and we were still able to pull off two big wins actually to start off A-10 play and this game right here, it just shows how tough our guys are, about how much we care for one another. At the end of the day even though our best guy (Clarke) is out we still have one common goal and that is to win basketball games,” said junior Khyle Marshall after the victory.
* This was the second true-buzzer beater and third final-seconds shot of the season for Butler, but first at Hinkle Fieldhouse. Clarke beat Marquette as time expired in the Maui Classic in late November, while Alex Barlow’s basket at Bankers Life Fieldhouse in December sent the Bulldogs to a victory over then-number one Indiana.
* This is the third victory by Butler over a team that was ranked in the top-10 at the time of the match-up (North Carolina, Indiana, Gonzaga)
* Butler now has 8 wins against the RPI top-100.
There is still a lot of basketball left to be played this season, but the Bulldogs are putting themselves in a position to earn a top-four seed in the NCAA tournament. During this recent run of success, they have been seeded 5th on two different occasions, but as crazy as it sounds, this team could have the best resume come Selection Sunday of any in Butler history.
No matter what happens the rest of the season, the “Hinkle Magic” from Saturday against Gonzaga will be remembered for quite some time for those in attendance. However, if you’ve learned anything by watching this team over the last decade, you should not be surprised if there are more Butler shining moments later this season.