1. After a string of warmer days, winter returned to Kellogg last night and today. The snow was of the lighter variety, but, nonetheless, it piled up enough that it needed to be shoveled and I got in some good exercise this morning, removing the snow from my sidewalks and from Christy and Everett's.
2. After Saddiq Bey nailed a three pointer with 30 seconds left in the game to tie the Villanova/Butler contest at 76-76, with under 5 seconds on the clock Kamar Baldwin made a strong move toward the basket as if he were going to drive to the hoop. His defender, Collin Gillispie backed up at an angle to cut Baldwin off, and seeing this, Baldwin leapt, sprung skyward, released a jump shot from behind the three point line, and it splashed. One second remained on the clock when he let this game winner fly, giving Butler a sparkling 79-76 win in leaky Hinkle Fieldhouse -- in the first half the game was delayed for about 15 minutes while someone dealt with a water drip from the roof that slickened the floor and endangered the players.
The game's heart stopping conclusion stunned, entertained, and moved me.
3. But, I enjoyed another aspect of this game even more as it developed.
If you have read my basketball reflections on this blog, I think I've made it clear that while I admire and enjoy frontline players like Sabrina Ionescu, Myles Powell, Payton Pritchard, Markus Howard, and other stars of their respective teams, I derive deeper enjoyment from watching secondary players, players whose performances rarely make it when game highlights are shown, but who are essential to their team's success.
For example, Kamar Baldwin is Butler's most valuable player and, in my opinion, he's joined by Sean McDermott as Butler's two leading players and scorers. In Butler's win over Villanova, I loved that two of their secondary players, Bryce Nze and Bryce Golden not only scored in double figures, but gave Villanova all kinds of defensive challenges around the basket. As a result, Butler had solid scoring up and down their starting lineup. Villanova couldn't focus defensive pressure on any one or two Bulldogs and I thought Butler exploited this, setting up plays for Nze and Golden to score near the hoop.
Villanova's two best players and scorers, Saddiq Bey and Collin Gillespie, combined to pour in 57 of the Wildcats' 76 points. Villanova didn't get scoring out of its secondary players. I won't go so far as to say that this is what cost Villanova the game; I will say, though, that Butler excited me all evening because of their balanced scoring -- to quote Coach Steve Lavin: Butler shared the sugar! I love sugar being shared!