INDIANAPOLIS — The crutches were for Da’Sean Butler but they could have been for the entire state, which will limp into the mines and the factories on another blue Monday, their basketball team once again having limped away from the NCAA Tournament in defeat.
It ended, the season and Da’Sean Butler’s marvelous career, in a heap on a hardwood floor laid atop a football field. It was a painful end, for the team, for the state and for Butler, who found himself unable to rescue his team and his teammates one more time.
“I’d do anything for the last 14 minutes back,” he said as he sat in a quiet West Virginia locker room following a 78-57 defeat to Duke in the national semifinal.
But with as many miracles as Butler performed in this All-American season, turning back time is not one of them.
The end to his career and, for all intents and purposes, the 2009-2010 basketball season, came with 8:59 to play. It came with a slip and a thud, Butler driving the baseline. His path to the basket was cut off and … well, let’s let him tell you.
“I tried to make a move and there was water on the floor — sweat — and I slipped.”
He was caught in an awkward position — not as awkward as was the 15-point deficit WVU faced at the moment, but awkward.
“My knee buckled a little,” Butler said.
The pain was instantaneous, as was the fear. He writhed on the floor in pain, players standing over him until the trainer, Randy Meador, arrived.
“It was 60-40 me being scared and the pain. I was terrified,” he admitted. “I’d seen friends go down with a hurt knee. I saw Cam (Thoroughman) do it.”
He said he tried to move it but couldn’t, at least not until Meador made him move it.