Butler clinches a share of the Missouri Valley Conference Title
OMAHA -- The Madness is already beginning for the Butler Bulldogs. It took an incredible comeback for them to be playing for a share of the Missouri Valley Conference title in their final game. It took an even more incredible comeback for the Butler Bulldogs to win their final game.
Down by 25 early to the Creighton Bluejays (one cc game a guaranteed fast loss and other two cc games featured second turns), the Butler Bulldogs chances of winning a conference title seemed dashed. "I thought it was over. I was on the verge of depression," the seldom used freshman, Elliott Kampen remarked.
But Emerson's fears were never realized. The Butler Bulldogs came back and then some, handily winning their seventh game in a row by the score of 79-68. "I'm flabbergasted. I thought we had lost it," Coach VOL told reporters. "I thought we were going to have to root for a Witchita State loss for us to get a share of the title. And then we just went on a run and everything turned around so fast."
The win secured at least a share of the Missouri Valley Conference title for the Bulldogs. "I just can't believe we did it," Butler center, Andrew Smith rejoiced. "We were two, three games back. Witchita State was ranked nationally in the top five and it didn't seem like they'd ever lose."
With six games remaining in the season, the Witchita State Shockers were 12-0 in conference. The 9-3 Bulldogs trailed them by three games. But the Bulldogs won all of their remaining games including a pivotal 76-68 victory at home against the suddenly shocked Shockers in the second to last game of the season, handing them their third loss in five games.
Wichita State must win their final game at home versus Eastern Illinois just to secure a share of the conference title. "We'll be watching that game in the clubhouse," sophomore forward, Khyle Marshall stated. "Call us selfish but we don't want to share that banner."
Coach VOL's Historical Feat
Winning the Missouri Valley title marked a historical feat for Coach VOL. He became the first and only known coach to win three conference championships in three different conferences in three straight years. He led the Gonzaga Bulldogs to a West Coast Conference title during the 2009-2010 season. Last year, he led the Butler Bulldogs to the 2010-2011 Atlantic 10 title (and then the national title). And this year marked Butler's first year in the Missouri Valley Conference and they won the conference title.
"I'm excited and humbled by the feat," Coach VOL explained. "Maybe someone else will accomplish the feat some day. But I know how hard this was and I didn't know if I'd ever get a chance to do it again."
Interestingly, if Coach VOL leaves Butler after this year, he could become the only coach to ever win four different conference titles in four different conferences in four different years. His contract expires at the end of the season but the coach refused any requests to discuss his future beyond this season.
"We just don't know what he'll do," Butler radio play by play man Brandon Gaudin explained. "We know he loves Butler, but we also know that a part of him is bothered when people challenge whether he could continue his winning ways in another conference."
Some have speculated that Coach VOL would leave and join the Ivy League, the winningest conference in each of the two last seasons. His buddy, first year-Coach Robespierre__ coaches the second ranked Princeton Tigers. "He (Coach VOL) likes a challenge, but I think he yearns to show people that he can win a traditional power conference; so if he were to leave then probably not the Ivy League," Gaudin speculated.
"I'll look at the options after the season and decide what is best for me, my family and the institution," Coach VOL clarified. "Right now, our mission has not changed." That mission is for Butler to win a back to back national championship title.
High Score: #76 3053