On Monday evening the 5th of April at 6 PM EST, David, aka Butler University, will take on Goliath, aka Duke University, for the National Collegiate Athletic Association’s 2010 Basketball Championship in Indianapolis, Indiana.
Butler is from Indianapolis, plays its regular season home games in nearby Hinkle Field House and is the prohibitive underdog. Many are equating their appearance in the finals with that of Indiana’s Milan High, a small rural school that won the 1954 Indiana State High School Championship. Ironically, Butler beat Michigan State in the semi-finals on April 3, 2010 by two points 52-50 and in the movie, Milan beat South Bend Central also by two points, 42-40. In reality, in 1954 Milan beat Muncie Central by two points, 32-30 in the Hinkle Field House. Hollywood changed the final score, the opposing team’s school name, and the fact that there were 10 players on the team, not six. In reality, 58 of the 73 boys at the school tried out for the team. Aside from these “minor” liberties, it was an accurate, inspirational story. Butler’s team has watched the movie “Hoosiers” too many times to count. Duke is going for its fourth NCAA tile all under Coach Mike Krzyzewski who naturally pronounces his last name as “Sheshevski.” Butler’s coach Brad Stevens pronounces his last name as ”Stevens.”
We watched “Hoosiers” before the semi-finals but on the Sunday night before the 2010 finals, we watched “Glory Road” which may better exemplify the story of basketball’s David versus Goliath. In the 1966 NCAA Basketball Championships, David was Texas Western and Goliath was storied University of Kentucky, and under legendary coach Adolph Rupp, UK had already won four NCAA championships. What made that game special was that Rupp had an all-white team and wouldn’t consider recruiting a player of color. Coach Don Haskins of the Texas Western Miners had recruited many of the seven blacks on his twelve-man team from inner-city high schools. In the championship game he started five blacks and played only the other two blacks during the game. Texas Western beat Kentucky 72-65 and it helped change the complexion of basketball teams and of the game. Texas Western also changed its name in 1967 to University of Texas El Paso (UTEP), but we prefer its original 1914 name when it was founded as The Texas State School of Mines and Metallurgy. Don’t you?