Monday, April 5, 2010

The Final Four and What it Meant to Me

By reading the captions of the pictures in the last post, you can probably tell I'm still bitter about WVU's loss to Duke in the national semi-finals on Saturday, but should I be?

The Mountaineers had an amazing season. They finished the year with a 31-7 record, a Big East Championship, a berth in the Final Four and countless buzzer-beaters that will be etched in my mind forever. It was a college basketball season that I've never experienced in my lifetime and I'm not sure how many more like this one can expect. It's more than anyone can ask for.

So why am I and so many other Mountaineer fans down in the dumps on the Monday mourning after?

With that last sentence I'm eluding to the injury of Da'Sean Butler. With just over nine minutes remaining in the second half of Saturday's game, Da'Sean drove the lane, planted his left foot and kaboom...

Being there, I didn't really get it. I saw Da' fall, grab his knee and writhe around in pain. Bob Huggins made his way on the court, leaned over Butler and hugged him. It was clear he said something to Da'Sean, but nobody could tell what it was. Butler was helped to his feet and then carried off the court. Moments later he was picked up by a golf cart and wheeled to the locker room. The cart exited the arena directly under our seats giving us a close-up of Da'Sean... this would be the last time anyone would ever see him in a WVU uniform and perhaps the last time anyone will ever see him in a basketball uniform... period.

Da'Sean Butler tore his ACL and severely sprained his MCL. This is bad news for any basketball player, let alone one that might or might not be selected in this June's NBA draft. Da'Sean has carried this state on his back for the last two months and has played his heart out for it for the last four years. If anyone deserves the NBA, it's him.

That's why when I think about what Bob Huggins said to Da'Sean while he laid on the court crying, my eyes well up ever so slightly. After the game Butler told reporters Huggins said, "Don't cry. Don't worry. I love you."

In the toughest of moments, from the toughest of coaches, it's awesome to know that a man who portrays the hardest of attitudes could be such a warm person when it mattered most.

It's an extremely sad story for Da'Sean. It's sad for all those who were hoping for a national championship. But, in the end, I hope everyone remembers the strong bond between player and coach that was displayed in Indianapolis Saturday night.

Take a few days. Get over the loss. We'll begin to enjoy the memories of the previous four wins. Root for Da'Sean's recovery until he finally gets a crack at the NBA. He will do that. He's that kind of guy. Be glad, however, that Bob Huggins showed the entire country what it's like to be a Mountaineer.


  1. I wondered if those AT the game saw the extent of it all as those of us watching on TV did. While we couldn't hear Coach Huggins's words, we knew they were special as they took a writhing, sobbing athlete into a state of calm. The tenderness displayed by Huggins towards Butler will forever be etched on my heart and in my mind.

    Thank-you for summing it up so well.

  2. Thanks, Becky. Huggs may have a bad rep from a few earlier incidents, but that moment summed him up for me.

    Let's go, Butler!