That motto served the Mountaineers well during the NCAA tournament. It popped up in many of their quotes and in explanations of what works best for this Final Four team from the Big East Conference. Coach Bob Huggins drilled it into their heads from the first day of practice.
“They are so sick of me saying it to them,” Huggins said Thursday. “So I put it on a shirt for them so they could read it.”
Senior forward Da’Sean Butler was asked what the motto means to him.
“We’re not going to [beat] you shooting threes — or shooting in general,” he said. “We’re not a team that runs constantly and tries to get into transition. But what we do, besides playing defense, and rebounding, is play a rugged game that nobody wants to watch.”
Do What We Do — emphasis on We.
Truth be told, the NCAA could print T-shirts for the entire 2010 Final Four and use that as the motto. The Mountaineers simply beat everybody else to it. This is being billed as the “No Name” Final Four for its lack of a star-studded cast of individuals. This Final Four doesn’t have Tyler Hansbrough. It doesn’t have a Greg Oden. It doesn’t have John Wall or Sherron Collins, Cole Aldrich or DeMarcus Cousins. And it certainly doesn’t have Magic Johnson or Larry Bird.
West Virginia, Duke, Michigan State and Butler got here playing team basketball. There are good players all around, but no NBA lottery picks. No starting lineup full of future NBA stars. This is no time to try something new.
“The megastar that maybe you normally seem to find in these Final Fours maybe isn’t there,” Michigan State coach Tom Izzo said. “I think it’s refreshing that you’re looking at four teams that team is maybe the most important thing.
“I think it’s going to make for a good Final Four in a different way. It might be refreshing and enjoyable to watch teams that are going to have to rely on each other to advance a little bit more than maybe one person.”
Players have seemingly left their egos at the team hotels. They want to win. They don't want heroes.
“We’re a team, and I think that’s what makes us so great,” West Virginia forward Devin Ebanks said. “Nobody cares who gets the credit.”
Ebanks, a sophomore who is averaging 12 points and 8.2 rebounds, might be the best NBA prospect still playing. Then there’s Butler’s Gordon Hayward, perhaps the most gifted and skilled player (yet isn't seen as the best pro prospect).
“I was blown away with him [from the start],” Butler coach Brad Stevens said of Hayward. “What he did in high school, it looked like it would translate right to the college level. He could pass it, shoot it, make the right decisions. He’s tough and he rebounds. That was fairly obvious from the get-go.”
And then there’s West Virginia’s Butler, who was added to the list of Wooden Award finalists Thursday. He’s third in WVU history in career scoring with 2,085 points. He has been called the best player at West Virginia since Jerry West, whom Butler playfully refers to as “a great player and a logo” — referring to West posing years ago for the NBA logo.
“I think everybody can see every time we need a basket who ends up with it,” Huggins said. “But I think that’s team-oriented because he’s the guy with the best chance to make it. We were struggling to score the other day, and we ran two sets for [Butler], and he made two big threes for us.”
Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski points out his team and West Virginia both got this far without shooting well at times. To reach the Final Four without that offensive element, requires a basic commitment to teamwork on other levels.
Duke coach said that after winning his second gold medal in men's basketball would be his Team USA finale. That may not be the case anymore.
Best of the big dance
Check out the top images in this visual tour of the 2010 NCAA tournament.
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