Da's Day

  • February 14, 2009 12:53 AM
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By John Antonik for MSNsportsNET.com
February 14, 2009

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – Bob Huggins may want to consider breaking Da’Sean Butler’s ankle the day before Wednesday’s game against Notre Dame.

  Da'Sean Butler's 43 points are the third-most ever scored at the WVU Coliseum.
All-Pro Photography/Dale Sparks photo

Yesterday, Butler badly sprained his ankle during a box-out drill and he wasn’t sure if he was going to be able to go against 13th-ranked Villanova Friday night.

“I was boxing out Cam Thoroughman and I saw Will Thomas come to the basket and nobody boxed him out,” Butler explained. “I went to go get Will and as I went to turn, I turned my ankle and came down on it.”

Butler had to be helped out of bed and spent the day in the training room.

“This morning I came in at 7:30 and went to the training room and I was in there all day in between classes,” Butler said. “I came back and iced my ankle and did all types of therapy because I couldn’t walk this morning.

“Randy did a great job with me. He put up with all of my complaining and crying and moaning and he got me ready for today,” Butler said.

It was Butler’s Willis Reed moment, except Reed didn’t put up 43 after he limped out onto the court.

Butler’s 43 points were the third-most ever scored in the Coliseum, falling four short of Austin Carr’s 47 scored against West Virginia in 1971, and the 45 Wil Robinson managed against Penn State the same year.

It was the most points by a Big East player since Syracuse’s Gerry McNamara poured in 43 against BYU March 18, 2004, in the NCAA tournament. And it was the most points scored in a Big East game in six years when Marcus Hatten lit up Rutgers for 44 March 6, 2003.

There's more … Butler’s 43 is the most by a Mountaineer player in Big East play and the first time that a WVU player scored 40 since Lowes Moore did it against Notre Dame 31 years ago. Bob Huggins was a graduate assistant coach for the Mountaineers that year.

“I have been waiting for it, honestly,” Huggins said of Butler’s 43. “He does it in practice. He does a great job at reading screens and our guys are getting better at getting him the ball.”

Butler said he was able to use Villanova’s aggressiveness to his advantage.

“They are very aggressive in the passing lanes and the double a lot. We just tried to take the things that they like to do and turn it against them,” he said.” If they are going to double-team us have a man come back to the ball and reverse it again and somebody should be open on the opposite side. It worked tonight because guys knocked down shots.”

Tonight’s performance was a far cry from the one Butler had four nights ago at Pitt when he scored just 4 points on 2 of 12 shooting against the Panthers.

“The last game I had 4 points and I shot terrible,” Butler said. “I was at the free throw line and I made my first two free throws. Then I made a deep 3 and then after that I was like, ‘Welcome to the game.’ I was ready to play. I just kept putting it up and everything was falling.”

Late in the second half his teammates started feeding him the ball as they did when Alex Ruoff was going for 40 against Radford.

“I kept telling them not to give me the ball and Alex and Devin (Ebanks) were like, ‘Go for the 40.’ I just kept going after the ball and taking my shot,” Butler said. “I looked up there once and I was like, ‘Wow.’ Then they told me to go get the ball. I got the ball and I knew I was going to shoot a 3. It just happened to go in so I was pretty happy.”

Butler, now averaging 21 points per game in Big East play, is even more pleased that the Mountaineers were able to get a 21-point victory against the No. 13-rated team in the country.

“I’m happy we won, honestly,” he said. “The points are great but I’m just glad we’ve got a chance to get on a roll with Notre Dame coming up here next Wednesday.”

Now, who’s going to be the one to roll his other ankle?