This victory will be remembered for Duke’s impressive offensive display, the horrific left knee injury to West Virginia senior forward Da'Sean Butler, and the reaction from West Virginia coach Bob Huggins.
Let's examine each:
Duke sliced through West Virginia’s porous defense and moved the ball well, finding the mismatch or open shooter. Just when the Blue Devils looked like they might have an issue, a pass would find Nolan Smith, Jon Scheyer or Kyle Singler. The ability for Duke to rebound as well, especially by senior center Brian Zoubek was monumental in keeping the Blue Devils’ possessions alive.
Butler was driving to the basket with 8:59 left in the game and his left knee buckled. You could hear his scream from press row. Butler tried to put weight on his left leg but couldn’t. He was helped off the court and made it only to the bench. He needed more help to get to the locker room. Butler had a magnificent senior season, including seven game-winning shots. Butler will have to earn a first-round spot in the NBA draft without any workouts in the spring. That’s going to be tough.
Huggins should never be looked at the same again. Huggins’ reaction to Butler’s injury should show the country how much he cares about his players. I have never seen a coach get so close to a player during an injury of this magnitude. Huggins was within inches of Butler’s face. He was cradling his head, patting his stomach. He was visibly upset with the officiating but didn’t take his mind off Butler. His compassion for his players is real. He was genuinely upset and no one should think otherwise.