Butler Coach Brad Stevens has rebounded nicely from his missed shot

Sunday, February 27, 2011; 12:51 AM

Like most coaches who lose a heartbreaking game, Butler Coach Brad Stevens had no burning desire to watch the tape of last year's national championship game. He was fully aware of what people had said about the drama that had unfolded at Lucas Oil Stadium and knew how much inspiration people had drawn from seeing his Bulldogs reach the last game of the college basketball season - and come within a couple of inches of winning.

Heck, he'd been on Letterman.

Almost as important, the president of the United States had called.

"Letterman was cool," Stevens said earlier this week. "But all kidding aside, having President Obama call was amazing. I mean, how often does the president call the losing coach?"

Of course, Stevens wasn't just any losing coach and Butler wasn't just any losing team. The Bulldogs were "Hoosiers" in real life, even if someone blew the last line of the script by having Jimmy Chitwood - as played by Gordon Hayward - fire up a 45-foot heave at the buzzer that just rolled off the front of the rim, allowing Duke to escape with a 61-59 win and the national title.

Even when he sat down in December to finally look at the game tape in preparation for his team's rematch against Duke, Stevens couldn't bring himself to watch the last shot.

"Actually watching the tape wasn't that bad because it reminded me of what an amazing zone we had gotten into by then," he said. "I knew our guys had given everything they possibly could, but it was good for me to be reminded of how prepared and focused we were that night. I'm not sure if I've ever been part of anything like that."

Even so, he skipped the ending.

"It wasn't as if I hadn't seen it a hundred times or a thousand times," he said, laughing. "Last summer, every time I sat down to watch a golf tournament and CBS would do a promo, there was Gordon and there was the shot and I'd find myself thinking, 'Maybe it goes in this time.' "

As it is, Stevens is probably in for another summer of seeing the shot again and again.

The good news is, it doesn't keep him up at night. Nor does the fact that Hayward passed up his last two years of college to become the No. 1 draft pick of the Utah Jazz. If Hayward had been playing in Hinkle Field House this winter instead of the Delta Center, Butler would probably be in the conversation for this year's Final Four.

But even without Hayward, the Bulldogs have won seven straight to get to 21-9 after Saturday's 63-56 win over Loyola of Chicago in the regular season finale.


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