growth (n.) - development from a lower or simpler form to a higher or more complex form; evolution
Game #9-474: Xavier Musketeers at Butler BulldogsMarch 9, 2013 6:30 pm
If we are to accept the above as a reasonable definition of the word, then how should we feel about growth? Should we celebrate growth in others or should we resent it? When given an opportunity for growth ourselves, must we always accept it? If we don't accept growth, are we somehow flawed or inferior as a result? Is there a consensus view on what constitutes "lower" and "simpler" versus "higher" and "more complex," so that "growth" is clearly and consistently understood? I f not, is your view of growth something that I may shrug off as irrelevant, and vice versa?
In 1995, after a decade of dominance in the Midwestern Collegiate Conference, Xavier had what it considered to be an opportunity for growth, and transitioned into the Atlantic 10 Conference, where it evolved into a consistent power both in that higher profile league and soon thereafter in the national spotlight. A generation later, Butler had a decade of dominance of its own in that same league (by then known as the Horizon League) and, presumably for similar reasons, made the exact same transition, with the full endorsement of Xavier's athletic leadership. Did these transitions represent growth for the basketball programs of these respective universities? For Xavier, it seems irrational to suggest that they did not prosper from their "development to a higher form" - they've sold out a high percentage of their home games since the Cintas Center opened in 2000, and have been a common qualifier in the NCAA tournament's Sweet Sixteen, with Elite Eight appearances in both 2004 and 2008. For Butler, the sample size is small, so the conclusion is unclear; however, with five home sellouts and two wins over potential #1 seeds, this first year (post-"growth") in the A-10 hasn't seemed like a bad experience.
Intercollegiate football has become the harlot of amateur athletics over the past decade or so, treating lost-standing conference affiliations with total disregard as one conference raids another, luring its target with cash payments to strengthen the status of its December Championship Game Mega-Event as well as its cable television package. Given this development, it is not surprising to see the most well-to-do of the major non-football academic institutions band together and declare themselves unwilling to be pushed aside any longer by these universities and their football programs. As these so-called "Catholic 7" universities seek other similar private school, basketball-focused athletic programs with which to partner, it is not surprising that they might look to Xavier and Butler to join them. Why would they seek to add these two schools? Well, of course, adding these programs to the new league would help them to strengthen their own cable television package. If Xavier and Butler make this move, is that taking advantage of another growth opportunity, is that simply selling out to a bigger paycheck, or is that some combination of the two? Would all of these nine (or possibly ten, or twelve) schools really be about the same as their football-focused counterparts, just with the decimal point on total revenues shifted to the left by a digit or two? I have no inside knowledge of such matters, and I am not particularly energized by thinking about the potential ramifications of such changes. I have chosen to largely disregard such rumors and discussions until after the season has ended, and only then ponder the answers to these questions once the details are sorted out. Even our TMM Season X rules show a struggle with this - if the Red Line gets too blurred or gets drawn in a place we don't like, maybe we're better off just getting rid of it altogether.
In my opinion, one of the most thoughtful essays in the history of this site came from Season 7, in reference to a game between these two rivals. In this essay, the author, who also serves as the site's moral compass, expressed a degree of regret that he had chosen a side in this battle of brothers. The reader was left to speculate which side he had chosen and why; the former seemed fairly easy to guess, the latter a bit less obvious. At the time, I supposed that the majority of his readers had chosen the same side. Now, nearly two and a half years later, I re-read this essay and ask myself several questions. Would the author still choose the same side? Would his readers? If so, in either case, would they choose the same side for the same reason as before, or more because of a pre-conceived notion about one side or the other? As I sit here today, I find it more difficult to distinguish between the two brothers, and I don't know if that feeling leaves me more energized or more saddened.
For the past nine years, Blue 2 has been the official mascot of Butler University. During that time, he has grown from an on-campus novelty to a national celebrity. I first encountered Blue 2 during my daughter's early registration just prior to her enrollment, back when he was fairly new on the job. He later gained some notoriety in 2008, when star guard A. J. Graves noticeably was the only Butler player who did not pat the mascot on the head during the introduction of the starting lineups that season, stating when asked about the omission that "I'm not a dog person." When Graves caved to campus-wide peer pressure and gave Blue 2 a slight tap during his Senior Day introduction, and when he then proceeded to make just one of eight field goal attempts in that game, everyone was quick to blame Blue 2 for Graves' bad luck.
You can't keep a good dog down though, and within two years the mascot rode the wave with a talented young team all the way to the Final Four just down the street from the Butler campus. I stayed in the same hotel as Blue 2 and his "parents" Michael and Tiffany Kaltenmark during that Final Four weekend, and I was amazed at all of the requests (some more polite than others) that the Kaltenmarks dealt with for people (generally total strangers) to get access to Blue 2 over the course of the weekend. Clearly, his celebrity had by then reached heights that they'd never imagined, but the Kaltenmarks (including Blue 2) handled all of that incredibly well. When Butler repeated the accomplishment the next year, and Blue 2 then took his act to Houston, his celebrity status skyrocketed further. Blue 2's prominence in the social media realm, aided considerably by Michael Kaltenmark's efforts, has connected him further with his fans and added to his popularity.
Last February, Butler hired an intern to train under Blue 2, and the very young pup was introduced at the Indiana State game. By the time the current basketball season opened, Blue 3 (who by then had grown as large as his mentor) was appearing side by side with Blue 2. However, after he nearly took a bite out of Kameron Woods during pre-game activity in the Richmond game, Blue 3 was benched for basketball games, though he was still very prominent on campus and on a number of Big Dawgs Tours.
In late January, Blue 2 announced that he would be retiring from active mascot duties at the end of this school year. So here, at halftime of this final home game of the season, a special Changing of the Collar ceremony was held, with Butler President James Danko himself assisting with putting the collar on the new mascot. All of this seems rather absurd from a distance, but I will admit to getting a little choked up seeing the old dawg walk off the court for the last time. Here's to you, Blue 2, may you have a long and healthy retirement (and perhaps another big basketball trip or two yet this season)!
As is usually the case when Xavier and Butler get together, the arena was filled to capacity and the crowd was fired up. The unusual 6:30 PM tip time, with Spring approaching, produced an eerie glow from the setting sun through the windows on Hinkle's west side as game time approached.
The game was evenly matched throughout. Butler went on a 12-2 run midway through the first half, to take a 20-12 lead, then Xavier went on an 8-0 run to tie it. Butler led by one at the half, after a short hook shot from Andrew Smith.
In the second half, a Travis Taylor jump shot pulled Xavier into a 35-35 tie. Butler then went on a 12-2 run, keyed by two steals and two assists by reserve guard Alex Barlow. When I then started to feel comfortable, Xavier went on a 17-3 run, and looked to have taken control with just over five minutes remaining. At that point, Butler went on a 6-0 run and regained the advantage. The game seesawed back and forth until the final 45 seconds of play. Xavier missed a couple of shots, Butler got to the foul line and converted, and Senior Day was saved for the home team. Wins are tough to come by in this rivalry, but Butler was able to make plays down the stretch to preserve the victory.
After the game, Butler honored its four seniors: Rotnei Clarke, Emerson Kampen, Andrew Smith, and Chase Stigall.
Next year, these players will be replaced on the roster by four highly touted freshmen. Blue 3 will replace Blue 2. Hinkle Fieldhouse will begin to undergo some renovation. Transitions will occur throughout the program. Most prominently, Xavier and Butler may transition from one conference into another, or maybe they will not. They may outgrow The Mid-Majority, or maybe they will not. Either way, the two brothers, after years of separation, now seem destined to transition and grow together. While it can still be said that they have little in common, they also have much in common. Their relationship is illogical, yet it makes perfect sense. This is family, after all; when all is said and done, family sticks together.
at BUTLER 67, XAVIER 62
XAVIER 17-13 (9-7) -- I. Philmore 7-12 2-2 16; D. Davis 2-5 0-0 6; T. Taylor 3-13 0-0 6; S. Christon 6-12 7-8 20; J. Robinson 0-1 1-2 1; J. Martin 2-6 0-0 5; B. Redford 0-2 0-0 0; E. Stenger 2-2 4-4 8; J. Farr 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 22-53 14-16 62.
BUTLER 24-7 (11-5) -- R. Jones 1-3 1-2 3; R. Clarke 5-14 8-8 21; A. Smith 3-9 1-3 7; K. Dunham 2-4 2-2 8; K. Woods 6-7 3-4 15; A. Barlow 0-0 2-4 2; K. Marshall 2-3 2-5 6; E. Fromm 2-4 0-0 5; C. Stigall 0-1 0-0 0; E. Kampen 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 21-45 19-28 67.
Three-point goals: XU 4-10 (B. Redford 0-2; J. Robinson 0-1; J. Martin 1-4; D. Davis 2-2; S. Christon 1-1), BUTL 6-16 (R. Clarke 3-8; C. Stigall 0-1; A. Smith 0-2; E. Fromm 1-2; K. Dunham 2-3); Rebounds: XU 29 (I. Philmore 11), BUTL 27 (A. Smith 5); Assists: XU 8 (S. Christon 5), BUTL 11 (R. Jones 4); Total Fouls -- XU 23, BUTL 18; Fouled Out: XU-T. Taylor; BUTL-None.