For Butler, a historically woeful offensive performance only barely cost the tiny Indianapolis school an unlikely title on Monday, when Connecticut pulled away for a 53-41 win and its third national championship.
Despite percentages so inept that a 7-year-old shooting hoops in her driveway would scoff at them (18.8 from the field and 9.6 from 2-point range), the defensive-minded Bulldogs contended valiantly for more than three-quarters of the game. Butler big men Matt Howard and Andrew Smith launched themselves repeatedly toward the goal, no matter how many of their shots clanged off the rim or the stonewall defense of Connecticut’s front line.
The result was 3-for-31 shooting from in close, and a performance widely decried as unwatchable.
But consider this: With a slightly kinder iron, the Bulldogs could have made four of those close-range attempts they botched, hit once more from 3 (making them 10-for-33 from there) and made two more free throws to reach their season percentage from the stripe.
Our revised score: a 54-53 win on 26.6 percent shooting. If Butler could have played only slightly less terribly and won a championship, then how terribly did the Bulldogs really play?