I suspected Butler was screwed when I learned that Ted Valentine was one of the referees. He was one of the officials who participated in the jobbing of IU in the ’92 semi-final game against Duke. Aside from Matt Howard’s foul trouble, however, I didn’t feel violated by the officiating like I did after the IU game. Seems like by the end of the game, things were being called (or, more accurately, not called) pretty evenly.
The final score was Duke 61, Butler 59. The end was shaping up a lot like Hoosiers. Small (but very talented) Butler was playing Goliath. With 13 seconds to go, they were down by 2. They gave the ball to
Bobby Plump Jimmy Chitwood Gordon Hayward who drove to the base line and put up a shot . . . that didn’t go. The game wasn’t done, however. With 3 seconds to go. Duke made the first free throw and intentionally missed the second. Hayward got the rebound, drove to half court, and heaved a shot from half court has time expired. Had it gone, that shot would have been replayed for decades and decades to come. It was so, very, very close. But, it missed. And, as a friend of mine put it, the clanging of the ball off the rim was like the sound of a sucker punch to the soul.
What a game, and what a season for Butler. I can’t pretend I was anything but a bandwagon Bulldog supporter. But I was awfully proud of how they played last night. Good season Bulldogs.