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Zerogame
08-08-2010, 10:02 AM
Article in Sporting News by Mike DeCourcy compares Butler's future to the Zags.


This is Butler basketball today: a cultural phenomenon. So what will it become in the future? Does Butler transform into another Gonzaga, building on its NCAA Tournament renown and becoming a feared national power? Or does it follow George Mason, still formidable in the Colonial Athletic Association but no threat to the game's established order? Or is there another option?

Read more: http://www.sportingnews.com/college-basketball/article/2010-08-07/butler-basketball-good-it-gets#ixzz0w2UBp4yW

Kiddwell
08-08-2010, 10:10 AM
Having played in the national title game, Butler has out-zagged the Zags. They're here to stay.

:]

ZagNative
08-08-2010, 10:22 AM
That's a really good story. Lots of food for thought. For example,
On a wall inside the Butler locker room is a sign listing the core values of the basketball program. The players remember there are seven of them, though some struggle to recall each item.

"It's basically putting others before yourself and being a great teammate," Hahn says. "It's just more important that we make it our lifestyle and not that we know the words."

Butler's players embrace this philosophy better than they memorize it it's at the core of the way they play, the way they are recruited and the way their program is run. That is true even for the best of them, and the best of them surely was forward Gordon Hayward, who, following his sophomore season, was taken No. 9 overall by the Utah Jazz. He will become the program's first NBA player since 1953.They talk now about "the Butler Way." Leon Rice used to speak often about the importance and challenge of teaching incoming kids "the Gonzaga Way." I have often wondered exactly what he meant. What is The Gonzaga Way? Is there a statement of Gonzaga's core values, principles, on the locker room wall?

Does anyone know for sure what Leon was referring to when he talked about "The Gonzaga Way?" I'm not talking about your impression of what is meant by that phrase but what someone close to the program would explain it to mean.

ellenvega
08-08-2010, 12:17 PM
No comparison between Butler and George Mason. The Bulldogs have been making noise in the tournament since way before last season. Will they continue to build on it? I think so, yes.

"It's basically putting others before yourself and being a great teammate,"

Pretty good definition of a 'way'.

CDC84
08-08-2010, 12:57 PM
Having played in the national title game, Butler has out-zagged the Zags. They're here to stay.

As this article talks about - and Decourcy is totally right - there are other things that go into a program's place in college basketball's pecking order besides just one mammoth NCAA tournament run.

That being said, Butler is clearly different from George Mason. The Bulldogs have greater tradition, better facilities, and had a run of success under different coaches in the years prior to the final four appearance. Brad Stevens is also a young coach who stayed put and resisted the BCS offers this offseason. There are also a ton of good basketball players in Indiana who want to stay local, and the IU Hoosiers are simply not what they were under Knight. I think it's going to be very interesting to see where the Bulldogs go from here. I know I will be rooting them on.

That being said, I encourage people to read this article in its entirety because Mike clearly talks about what I have talked about many times on this site concerning the inherent advantages that Gonzaga has compared to almost every other non-BCS program. Especially their geographical placement on the map and the silly television set up of the Pac 10. It allowed the Zags to morph into a major program with powerful brand name recognition despite their lack of a final 4 appearance. Some of those things are advantages Butler is never going to have and Stevens knows it. They will need to find alternative approaches to keep growing as a program.

One of those ways they can do this - and Stevens kind of addresses this in the article - is sticking with what has made them successful in terms of the emphasis on defense and disciplined offense. Butler just plays the game in a certain way that forces opponents into doing things they don't like to do. Their program has a style that I don't want to say is totally unique, but which causes them to stick out. You know what you're going to get. You also know you will see unselfish players on the floor because their style doesn't work unless that happens. Obviously, unselfishness is important for every basketball team, but the team defense Butler plays is a total disaster unless their players have a special mindset.

The Zags on the other hand play a transition style of offense that has always mimicked BCS programs such as North Carolina. They are less distinct. The players, despite playing in a very sophisticated offense, have a lot of freedom. I'm not sure if there is really a "Gonzaga Way," and frankly, I'm not really sure it matters anymore if it once did. Perhaps Few taking out a lot of the flex offense made the Zags less distinct.

When I think of "the Gonzaga Way" or "the Butler Way" or "the Georgetown Way" or the "the Kansas way," I think of it in terms of playing style as opposed to core values, codes or principles. I think every coach of every team - yes, even John Calipari - is trying to instill the same core values, codes and principles. It's just that some are more successful at doing it than others.

MDABE80
08-08-2010, 01:54 PM
I agree. The article is a classic. Everyone should read it. Among the better ones MD has written in quite some time. I told him so too!

Martin Centre Mad Man
08-08-2010, 06:27 PM
Comparing Butler to George Mason seems a bit silly to me. George Mason came out of nowhere to reach the Final Four and went right back to obscurity during the following season. They had no real tournament history and haven't done much since that one run.

By contrast, nobody should have been surprised to see Butler make a deep tournament run. They had several years of momentum culminating in last year's title game appearance, including a handful of earlier Sweet 16 appearances and Top 25 ratings going into last season. Going into last season, they were featured in just about every preseason Top 25 list and on a lot of Top 10 lists.

Going into their respective Final Four tournaments, George Mason was an 11 seed; Butler was a 5 seed and ranked in both polls at the beginning of the tournament. Butler was a legitimate Final Four contender that was good enough to beat any team in the country.

Butler was not a Cinderella.

CDC84
08-08-2010, 07:57 PM
It should also be pointed out that Butler made the national title game, whereas GMU lost in the national semis and did so convincingly. I know it's just one more game, but that national semi game is harder than any of the other games before it. It's not just the quality of the opponent you're facing, but handling all the distractions that come with the final 4, which were even greater for Butler given that the event took place in their hometown. The ability for the Bulldogs to overcome all that was truly the reflection of a team that had some serious ability and talent. Many teams can catch a few breaks and manipulate their way into the final 4, but you can't fake your way out of the national semifinal game.

I think MD's article is great, but it didn't need to have George Mason brought into it. The real questions are about where Butler goes from here. They won't go into obscurity because they weren't in obscurity before the final 4 appearance. The questions now become: Can they make the NCAA tournament every single season - even in a rebuilding year? Can they continue to contend for a final 4 appearance every few years? Can they keep Stevens when better and more lucrative BCS coaching offers come his way? I mean, their program is not going to go away....it's just a question of whether they can take things to another level.

ZagNative
08-08-2010, 08:10 PM
I think MD's article is great, but it didn't need to have George Mason brought into it. The real questions are about where Butler goes from here. They won't go into obscurity because they weren't in obscurity before the final 4 appearance. The questions now become: Can they make the NCAA tournament every single season - even in a rebuilding year? Can they continue to contend for a final 4 appearance every few years? Can they keep Stevens when better and more lucrative BCS coaching offers come his way? I mean, their program is not going to go away....it's just a question of whether they can take things to another level.Agreed. And the issue is not whether Gonzaga is better than Butler, or vice versa. It's about what it takes to stick and continue to grow a brand, and clearly Gonzaga created the template for that.

I also ruminated a good deal over what the column had to say about Butler (and Gonzaga) recruiting:

So even though he's now one of the sport's coaching stars, Stevens wasn't planning to spend much time among John Calipari, Rick Pitino and Roy Williams when the future McDonald's All Americans were playing during the July evaluation period. "We want to evaluate the people we can get," he says.

After Gonzaga made its breakthrough with three consecutive trips to the Sweet 16 from 1999-2001, the Zags eventually were able to attract higher-profile players also coveted by BCS conference programs: forward Austin Daye, guard Matt Bouldin and big man Josh Heytvelt, for instance.

Despite its increased name recognition, Butler's approach doesn't figure to change much. Stevens wants prospects "that think it's a special deal to be offered by Butler and not just something they throw in their back pocket."

In the past four years, the team hasn't signed a single player rated as a four-star prospect or better by Scout.com though Nored, Hahn, Mack, Howard and Hayward, the core of the Final Four team, all arrived during that period.

As Stevens sees it, he doesn't have to alter his recruiting approach to sign elite prospects.

"We think we've been recruiting those," he says. "No one else called them that. That's our deal. For us, Gordon Hayward was a top 50 kid. Shelvin Mack, the more you learned about him and saw him, was a top 50 kid. That will continue to be our process."
I know there are those here who lament the fact we still aren't getting the four- and five-star prospects some think we ought to. DeCourcy makes it sound like those types have become routine for Gonzaga. But when you look at the guys we've signed to come in in 2010, it's clear that the staff is still finding what it considers underrated players. Guys you've never heard of who eventually become darned good players.

I think we ought to want guys who don't necessarily feel so darned entitled, who feel privileged to play for Gonzaga, who are coachable and willing to work hard ... like Butler players.

CDC84
08-08-2010, 08:11 PM
Another key difference between GMU and Butler: Gordon Hayward. I realize that the final 4 thing elevated Hayward's stock to lottery pick status, but it wasn't hard to imagine him being a future first round draft pick before the NCAA tournament even started. A couple of the other Butler guys are likely to get NBA looks at some point as well. As far as I can tell, none of the guys on that GMU team got a sniff of the NBA.

Butler Guy
08-11-2010, 05:32 AM
Another key difference between GMU and Butler
Or, that Butler has averaged 23 wins a year for 15 years and missed the post season two times during the stretch OR has spent weeks in the top 10 every year since '06, etc....

People bringing George Mason up in comparison to Butler last year, is moving up my personal rankings for pet peeves.

Preseason Top 10s aren't all that comparable to preseason top 150s.

webspinnre
08-11-2010, 06:12 AM
Preseason Top 10s aren't all that comparable to preseason top 150s.

This. Nobody was particularly surprised to see Butler making a run, while everybody was surprised to see George Mason going anywhere. The comparison isn't even remotely similar, other than the fact that both made the final 4.

Ekrub
08-11-2010, 07:44 AM
"I think the hardest thing for a non-BCS school right now is to be held to a standard of having to play perfectly in January and February," Stevens says. "I don't like it. I hope it changes that every run the George Masons and everyone else makes, that helps to change that."

Im glad somebody else feels that way about their team. I hate how much a loss to a WCC team drops us.

MickMick
08-11-2010, 04:46 PM
Butler does it with defense. Their unheralded guard, Nored, was the best "on ball" defender in the tournament.

He is on their team again this year. Don't sleep on Butler. They will be in every game this season because of..........defense. They never stop coming at you. They did to Syracuse what the Zags did not. Got in Andy Rautin's and Wesley Johnson's face.

MDABE80
08-11-2010, 06:41 PM
Mick''s right....defense! They do it very well and we still don't prioitize it. We won't outscore everyone . We cannot. Defense we can control.... rebounding, rigid on ball defense,...all we need to do is see who'sin the final four....it's those that have average/above average offense. The teams with good defense are nearly always there. It' skey.

I hope the newcomers will recognise this and we go back to fundamental work. It isn't flashy but it wins games. Dunks don't.

gmo
08-13-2010, 02:57 PM
agreed. That shot, man I wish it would have gone... would have been the greatest play and ending in the history of basketball, perhaps sports.

At the time, I was a little torn though to be honest. Deep down wanting Gonzaga to win it all first....




Having played in the national title game, Butler has out-zagged the Zags. They're here to stay.

:]