I'm a family man.
With Thanksgiving creeping closer and closer and the Butler Bulldogs down by 15 points at halftime to the Gardner-Webb Runnin' Bulldogs, I was ready to skip my new duties as an independent blogger and start mentally preparing and fasting for tomorrow.
But Brad Stevens and Co. had a different outcome in mind.
Butler gave up 50 points in the first half to head into the Hinkle locker rooms down 50-35. It was essentially the worst half of Butler basketball in a year. Gardner-Webb shot upwards of 70% from the field in the first half, including an absurd eight of 10 from 3-point range.
That's when Butler basketball reared it's beautiful head.
The Dawgs came out after halftime and gave up two points in the first eight minutes. Going on a 16-0 run to cut the lead to 52-51 on a 3-point play by Andrew Smith. At that point, it was Butler's game to lose.
100% of the momentum was in Butler's favor and the upperclass leadership of the team guided this team to the 68-66 victory. With a little help from Stevens.
In the post-game interview with MyIndyTV, Stevens credited upperclassmen Ronald Nored, Garrett Butcher and Smith with getting this young team under control.
And after giving up 50 points in the first, the peer leaders of this team had to light a fire and get everyone playing the type of Butler basketball that has led to two straight National Title Game appearances.
This is exactly the type of game that brings a team together and gets them playing as one unit. And THAT is what the doctor ordered for this young team. One moment that serves as a learning experience for every single person in a Butler uniform.
I'm not saying that Butler is going to magically turn into an unstoppable force. There will be plenty of stumbles and bumps in the road during this season. But this is what a young team, looking for an identity, needs.
One game to build unity, cohesion and a perfect example of how the game needs to be played...and it didn't even have to come during a loss. Huge.
The Bulldogs were led in scoring by Chrishawn Hopkins, who scored 22 points (6-6 from the line) and had been previously bashed on this blog for dropping off the end of the earth. Hopkins started his first game of the year, took the team's first two shots and scored it's first five points.
Smith, also called out by yours truly, scored 11 and Stigall scored 14 including 4-9 from 3-point land, including one that was drained from nearby Broad Ripple.
I was ready to quit on this team tonight.
It's a good thing the Butler Bulldogs weren't.