I've always loved college hoops but was never a big Bob Huggins fans, for reasons that are obvious. That changed with the West Virginia - Duke game Saturday.
I've seen players go down with some horrific injuries over the years and the head coach never even bothers to give a glance. Trainer goes over, a few scrubs help to pick him off the floor, but the head coach, thinking himself a general -- is too important to check on a young man's status in person. Got to stick with the Xs and O's, right? Not for Huggins on Saturday night. Above and beyond, really. Star senior goes down and instead of strategizing on the sidelines... does what I think a coach should do -- on any level.
I hope Da'Sean is brought back to good health. And to think the kid should have been on Hawk Hill ;-(
Saint Joseph's loss is West Virginia's gain: Da'Sean Butler
It was the spring of 2005 when the Saint Joseph's coaching staff found itself in such a quandary. They were going to have several scholarships available for the class that would be high school seniors in 2006. They liked a number of players for those spots.
One of them, a junior forward from Bloomfield (N.J.) Tech, really liked St. Joe's. He had been to several Hawks games that season. He had come for several visits. He had come to know the campus and the players. He liked everything about it, including the fact that one of the incoming freshmen was going to be Ahmad Nivins, a friend from nearby Jersey City.
"Everybody was really cool at St. Joe's," that player was saying Thursday at Lucas Oil Stadium. "I guess they wanted me to commit right then and there. I was telling them I definitely want to come."
Still, he wasn't quite sure he wanted to commit at that moment. Even though he said he wanted to go there, he wanted to wait a bit.
St. Joe's coaches also liked juniors Darrin Govens, D.J. Rivera and Jawan Carter. One by one, in less than a week that spring, they also said yes. Just that fast, there were no scholarships left.
"When I came back, the kid from Delaware (Carter) committed," the player remembered. "I was like, 'That sucks. I guess I have to look elsewhere.' "
After chuckling a bit when reminded of that time, St. Joe's coach Phil Martelli said, "You just poured vinegar into my open wound."
Da'Sean Butler would have looked pretty good on Hawk Hill these last four years. Put him in a frontcourt with Nivins for three seasons and the Hawks may have remained players on the national stage. If Butler were a senior at St. Joe's this season, there would more likely have been 20 wins than 20 losses.
Butler, however, is here - at the Final Four, the star player for West Virginia, the scorer of 2,085 points (putting him in a WVU club of three with Jerry West and Hot Rod Hundley) and the maker of six game-winning shots this season, including the one that beat Villanova in the regular-season finale and the one that beat Georgetown to win the Big East Tournament.
Really, who knew?
Proving how difficult this really is, Butler's longtime friend and high school teammate, Casiem Drummond, was much more highly recruited. He was considered a terrific get for Villanova.
In his first two seasons for the Wildcats, Drummond scored 134 points in 40 games. He played two games in 2008-09 before transferring to Marist. He was supposed to play for Marist in the second semester this season. Only he was academically ineligible. Marist went 1-29.
You never know.
Mike Rice, then a St. Joe' first-year assistant and now the head coach at Robert Morris, knew the New Jersey high school scene intimately. He was the point man for Butler's recruiting. He put St. Joe's in a great spot.