- Associated Press - Monday, April 4, 2011

HOUSTON (AP) - Butler assistant head coach Matthew Graves estimates the Bulldogs’ coaching staff is averaging 4-5 hours of sleep during the NCAA tournament, skipping a good night’s rest to pore over game film.

It’s an exhausting process. One that leaves head coach Brad Stevens and company bleary eyed as they try to distill opponents’ strengths into easily digestible morsels for the Bulldogs.

And that was before they had to find a way to unlock the mystery of Connecticut’s Kemba Walker.

The do-everything point guard provides the Bulldogs with a challenge they have yet to face during their two-year run through the bracket _ a superstar.

Sure, the Bulldogs have gotten pretty good at slaying Goliaths. Their list of victims includes Syracuse, Michigan State and Florida.

Good teams all. Yet ones without a player like Walker, who has carried the Huskies to the verge of their third national title.

“He’s a guy that puts you in a lot of unique positions,” Stevens said.

Most of them bad.

Lay off Walker, and he’ll pull up from 3. Body him, and he’ll blow by you with a vertigo-inducing first step. Throw two players at him, and he’ll find an open teammate.

Graves, who splits the scouting with assistants Terry Johnson and Micah Shrewsberry, called Walker “without a doubt the best individual player in terms of importance to his team that we’ve faced.”

Shutting him down is almost an impossible task. Slowing him down isn’t much easier.

Kentucky did as good a job as anyone on Saturday, holding Walker to “only” 18 points in UConn’s 56-55 victory. Yet he added six rebounds and seven assists to send the Huskies to their 10th straight victory and a spot in the national championship game.

“Kemba makes it tough for you,” said guard Ronald Nored, who could get one of the first cracks at guarding Walker on Monday. “But the great thing about people is they all have tendencies. Everyone has something that they’re good at; everyone has something that they’re probably not as good at, or they’re not as efficient at. In the next few hours, there’s going to be a lot of breakdowns.”

None of them nervous ones. Butler doesn’t do nervous.

Credit the even-keeled Stevens, who has perfected “the Butler Way” during his four seasons on the bench. The Bulldogs respect every opponent, regardless of what it says on the front of the jersey.

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