Lifting each other up, despite the fall

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By Jonna Spelbring Priester

There’s no denying it, I’m a Butler fan. I couldn’t hide it if I tried.
Most times, especially during the NCAA tournament, I root for the underdog. I like to see the folks who don’t ‘win all the time’ make a run at the big prize.

It makes me especially happy to watch a mid-mid-major school like VCU stump its opponents and silence its critics. But if they had to lose to anybody, I’m glad it was Butler.

Monday night, as the ball thudded off the rim or was swatted away by a long-armed Husky time after time, I felt for the Bulldogs.

A story on the Yahoo Sports Network Tuesday morning only served to cement my adoration for the plucky Indiana school with a coach older than me by just a few months.

But here’s what you didn’t get to see after the game... Players in the Butler locker room, seniors especially, in tears over what was an undeniably dismal performance. But rather than blaming each other (each player blamed himself), their teammates did something that seems almost unheard of in the ‘me-first’ nature of sports — more and more at the collegiate level — these days.

In the article by Dan Wetzel, you can read that Butler’s Ronald Nored, who shed his own share of tears, got up from his bench, went over to teammates Shawn Vanzant and Matt Howard. He hugged them and told them he loved them.

Nored wasn’t just comforting a teammate, he was comforting a friend.
The entire team, including coaches and managers, followed suit.
It’s easy to hold up each other’s successes, but to hold each other up in defeat? That takes moxie.

Scratch that — it takes heart. And character. And selflessness. And teamwork. And love. And a coach to weave it all together.

On a night when I’m sure Butler’s players could have wallowed in the self-pity they surely felt after an 18.8 percent shooting performance, they didn’t wallow — not for long. It seems that instead, they celebrated the sense of team that got them to the national championship game two years in a row.

Maybe I’m old-fashioned, but I thought that’s what college basketball was all about.