I read with interest Allen Kha’s Bleacher Report article, “Final Four 2010: 9 Reasons Butler Will Win It All” (and why they should not be considered a Cinderella). While there are talent and system differences between Butler and Michigan, as well as the disparity in historical stature, I got a strong sense that Kha’s optimism was rooted in certain principles, many of which seem to be in development in Beilein’s program. (These are not Kha’s “9 Reasons,” but nine observations gleaned from his article):
- Butler recruits well in its own backyard. Ten players on their roster come from their home state of Indiana.
- Butler recruits players who buy into “The Butler Way” – unselfish, hustle every play, smart, and good shooters
- Butler recruits players with a high basketball IQ
- Butler focuses first on suffocating defense, not turning the ball over, and winning hustle plays
- Butler takes 50% of its shots beyond the arc; four players had over 100 3-pt shots (and shot under 35%)
- Butler has the ability to dictate tempo against better teams
- Butler lacks front-court size and has no classic post players, but still uses an inside-out approach
- Butler has one person who can take over if necessary (potential NBA talent, Hayward)
- Butler knows how to win when their only post player is perennially on the bench in foul trouble (6’8” Howard)
Perhaps it’s my desire to see hope even in places it doesn’t normally exist. But is there some encouragement to be found for fans of the Michigan program in noting how Butler built a championship-level program?