Hayward remembers one that got away

May, 21, 2010

CHICAGO -- Gordon Hayward's half-court shot will be the moment from the 2010 national title game frozen in memory and the most dissected.

The trajectory was on line. The 70,000-strong crowd at Lucas Oil Stadium in downtown Indianapolis was on its feet. The ball was on target but missed, allowing Duke to beat Butler for the national title, 61-59.

But that's not the shot Hayward will remember years from now. It's the shot before that he missed. If there is something that still irks Hayward from the title game six weeks ago, it's the fadeaway shot along the baseline that he missed with five seconds remaining. Duke was up 60-59 at the time.

"I've hit that shot so many times," said Hayward, going through skill work at the NBA's pre-draft camp. "It was right on, but just long. I let it go and I thought it was in. I thought we were going to be celebrating right there but it wasn't meant to be."

Hayward said Duke center Brian Zoubek played good defense by jumping out on him. That forced him to drive to that corner rather than take the ball straight to the basket.

After the miss Zoubek made only one of two free throws, giving the Bulldogs a chance to win it with a halfcourt heave. Hayward said that he was "lucky to even get that shot off," after Matt Howard "flattened" Kyle Singler with a screen.

Hayward said he still hasn't watched the tape.

Watching Hayward six weeks after the title game, you can see how much he has matured and he clearly belongs at this level. Would it have been interesting to see him return for his junior season and watch Butler try to make another run to the Final Four? Of course, but Hayward's body has grown up as has his game. He didn't run from playing in the skills drill at the draft camp, even though he's likely a lock for the lottery. He competed, made shots and looked the part of a high draft pick who can contribute next season.

He's also not fretting the future of his school. He's convinced that Butler won't dip with the return of Shelvin Mack, who Hayward said will emerge as a better scorer, an older, wiser and better Howard inside and a potential offensive star in Ronald Nored, who was asked to be much more of a defender last season.

"He's a real talent and an offensive player," Hayward said. "He'll step up and work hard."

Hayward said he never thought for one second coach Brad Stevens would bolt. Stevens was wooed by suitors, including Oregon, but chose to stay at Butler, signing a 12-year deal, ensuring the Butler brand continues.

"They had the tradition before I got there of being a Sweet 16 team," Hayward said. "The system is in place, the people are great at Butler. People now know where I played, where Butler is. I'm so proud of what happened."

• Notre Dame coach Mike Brey, the newly named chair of the NCAA rules committee, said the one major change made at last week's meeting was a new wrinkle in elbow swinging. If an elbow is used to clear space, it has to be called an intentional or flagrant foul. It can't just be ruled a personal foul. Any swinging elbows above the shoulders that are thought to be dangerous will be ruled intentional or flagrant and can be reviewed. While this wasn't a year in which a rules change could be adopted, an exception is made for any rule change that involves personal safety.

Meanwhile, men's college basketball will experiment with establishing a two-foot arc in front of the basket to determine block/charge calls. The NBA's version is a four-foot arc. College basketball will experiment with the new arc in the Preseason NIT (the NCAA owns it) and exhibition games. Brey, who was at the draft camp Thursday, said they won't experiment in regular-season games other than the Preseason NIT. The rules committee may then look at three to four feet in later years.

One rule that was discussed is whether or not coaches should be allowed to call timeouts during live action. Officials have told the committee that it's difficult to look over and get a timeout call from a screaming coach while they're covering live action, especially during a scrum. A survey will be sent out to coaches to see what their reaction is to the proposal. Brey said he doesn't expect coaches to be in favor of this change but it could move in that direction. Coaches would be able to call timeouts during dead-ball situations.

• I talked to multiple general managers and assistant general managers and couldn't find one that was convinced there could be a package deal with LeBron James and John Calipari. But one general manager said that if James did make that demand, even in a place like New York where Olympic assistant Mike D'Antoni is employed, then that team would have to listen. He said you can't turn down James but in the same breath he said that doing a package deal would ultimately crush your team. He said there would be divisions in the locker room as soon as something went wrong and the players would know that the coach is only there because of James.

• More than any other player, Kentucky's DeMarcus Cousins has had to answer questions about his attitude and whether he's coachable. The stigma attached to him is something he continually has to fight as he goes through the interview process. But all the NBA personnel I spoke with said he is unquestionably the most impressive big man in the draft.

• With that being said, don't lock in Ohio State's Evan Turner at No. 2 if and when the Sixers get a chance to work him out. Philadelphia gets an interview with Cousins on Friday. Cousins already interviewed with Washington, New Jersey, Minnesota, Golden State, Sacramento and Detroit. But don't expect him to work out for the top seven teams. He's probably going to work out for four max. Detroit is a team that could try to trade up into the top four to get a big like Cousins or Georgia Tech's Derrick Favors.

• The game of not playing here, even in skill work, continues. For the second straight season a Washington senior chose not to play. A year ago it was Jon Brockman, and this year Washington coach Lorenzo Romar said it was Quincy Pondexter. Duke's Jon Scheyer was supposed to be here but his agent told NBA Insider Chad Ford that he had mono. That's a crushing blow for Scheyer, who needed to be here to prove he can hang at this level. But Scheyer may get a deal in Israel that would match any money he would make here as a possible second-round pick.

I would have liked to have seen Zoubek here as well, competing with the other big men. I agree with colleague Fran Fraschilla: Cal's Jerome Randle (and I'll throw in Patrick Christopher, as well) and Villanova's Scottie Reynolds should be here, too.

• It's amazing how there can be players that slip through the cracks but that's what happened with Ryan Richards, a 7-1 center from Kent, England. He was a solid skill player Thursday and as a result his candidacy as a sleeper player began.

• Notre Dame's Luke Harangody looked like he was in the best shape of his life. He's lean, moved well and should be a solid selection. He's not going to get taller, his arms won't get longer and he's not going to be any quicker, but he makes shots.

• The one thing that didn't make sense was seeing some big men shooting from the perimeter. One GM I was standing with wondered when Texas' Dexter Pittman will ever take 3s in the NBA. The answer was never. Pittman didn't make the ones he was taking in front of us.

Andy Katz | email

ESPN Senior Writer


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