A Midwestern Break: Butler Beats Loyola-Chi 66-55 (Photo Post)
(all photos (c) Picodulce)
If I can’t make it up to Rose Hill Gym on Fordham’s campus for a men’s basketball game with my fellow Ministers of Bracketology, then by Naismith, I will find a small, cramped, mid to low-major program’s gym to watch an intimate college game. There’s nothing like being actual spitting distance from a high-level basketball game, the coaches yelling, the squeak of shoes (in this case, both teams wear Nike) on the court.
I found the right place—north side of Chicago, Loyola University-Chicago. The team is nicknamed the Ramblers; their mascot is some kind of friendly Husky. And while they have not been particularly successful (or good) at basketball recently, they play in my city, and in the Horizon League with University of Illinois-Chicago, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, Cleveland State, and the Butler Bulldogs, 14th ranked in the NCAA, who played last night.
[more under the cut]
Last year, I had some nosebleed seats for a game at Madison Square Garden with a friend; we saw Butler beating on Gonzaga for the preseason NIT Championship (2006), after dispatching the Tennessee Volunteers. That team went to the Sweet Sixteen of last year’s NCAA tournament, giving eventual two-time champion Florida Gators all they could handle. This year’s team also won the preseason NIT, so good things are coming, hopefully, for the little school that could.
This time, my seats were much much better. And only $5! Five dollars! But the Loyola fans were late in filing in.
In some cases, not at all.
The Butler fans came out in droves. I’ve never heard such angry G-rated yelling.
So I thought I would see an offensive whoop-assin’ by the Bulldogs, with their experience and top-level shooter, AJ Graves, who looks like that hip dude that all your female friends thinks is “hot” and “gritty” but you think looks like “was hit with the ugly stick.” Butler won, 66-55, but the Bulldogs did a lot of sweating under the height of the Ramblers, who had the game within 3 points by slowing the game down, making it ugly, and muscling the Bulldogs out of position. Justin Cerasoli is #24 for the Loyola-Chicago Ramblers– the former Seton Hall player has come home to Chicago to finish out his basketball career, and good luck to him.
Coach Brad Stevens is my age. I like his demeanor, though, doesn’t just chat with his bench—he chews his gum, yells instructions to his team on the court, has crisp, succinct instructions to his players entering the game.
Mike Green was nice with the ball, and unpictured is a fellow named Hahn who made some slick passes that didn’t show up in the box score.
The scouts were out, checking AJ Graves’ game. Maybe he’ll get drafted to the NBA after all. he only scored 7 points last night, but was sharp when he did shoot. He went 2-7 from the field, 2-5 from beyond the arc. Not a great performance, but the skills are all there even on an off night.