Gilbert Brown looks to NBA future, not NCAA miss
Gilbert Brown made the big shots look routine in college. It’s
the one he missed that will be remembered in Pittsburgh.
Now focused on his future professional career, Brown is trying
to prove to NBA scouts that there’s more to his game than just an
errant free throw.
”It does linger on a little bit,” said Brown, whose miss with
1.4 seconds left led to Butler’s stunning second-round NCAA
tournament upset in March. ”It’s kind of like a couple of years
ago when (Villanova’s) Scottie Reynolds hit that layup. You’re
always going to have those kind of moments.”
They’re just not easy to forget, especially when you have the
kind of game Brown did that day.
The 6-foot-6 forward scored a team-high 24 points against Butler
and had a chance to save the top-seeded Panthers’ season when
Shelvin Mack inexplicably fouled Brown near midcourt with 1.4
seconds to go. Mack later called it the dumbest foul in Butler
Brown responded by making the first free throw to tie the score
at 70, but missed the second shot. Butler forward Matt Howard
grabbed the rebound and Nasir Robinson, even more inexplicably,
fouled Howard 85 feet from the basket. Howard made the first shot
to break the tie and missed the second intentionally to burn time
and send Butler into the regional round for the second straight
Brown and his teammates went home early again.
On Friday, Brown’s whirlwind tour of nearly a dozen NBA cities
took him to Indianapolis, where he worked out in front of Larry
Bird and the Pacers. Brown said he neither had timed or the desire
to visit Butler’s campus, six miles away.
Not surprisingly, Brown seemed to know he would have to relive
the March misery all over.
”A lot of people were talking to me, saying it wasn’t my fault,
that it’s just part of the game,” Brown said after the workout in
Indy. ”You know, I tried to ignore it. But as soon as I got home,
it was on SportsCenter, so I had to watch the game again.”
Those who have played basketball at the highest levels
understand what Brown has gone through the last 2 1/2 months.
Two of the six players in Brown’s group, San Diego State’s
Malcolm Thomas and Kansas’ Markieff Morris, were eliminated earlier
than expected last season. Pacers forward Josh McRoberts, a former
Duke player, still remembers the times he missed critical free
throws at the ends of games.
It happens to everyone if you play long enough.
”I don’t think you ever forget it,” McRoberts said. ”It’s
tough to sleep at night, so you can’t forget it.”
Especially when it’s replayed time and again on television and
referred to constantly as one of the wackiest finishes in NCAA
Thomas, one of Brown’s teammates at another NBA camp in
Portsmouth, Va., remembers seeing the replays.
”I never asked him about it because I know how it feels,”
Thomas said. ”It’s probably the toughest thing I’ve had to deal
with, to get that close and lose, it’s just tough to put it behind
Brown has tried to do it.
After running the gamut of emotions in the immediate aftermath,
Brown finally went back and watched tape of the game. His
conclusion was that the Panthers made too many mistakes before The
Miss to win the game.
That hasn’t made chasing his NBA dream any easier. When the NBA
handed out invitations to the combine in Chicago, Brown didn’t make
Then teams started calling to line up the workouts and Brown
accepted every invitation. The tour stops include Indy, Houston,
Phoenix, Los Angeles Washington and Detroit, among others.
”I want to show them that I’m a defensive stopper, that I’m
capable of guarding anyone from one to four, that I’m a reliable
shooter, too,” Brown said. ”I want to show them that I’m more of
a player than they think I am.”
And that he’s over the sting of losing to Butler.
”Looking back, you look at the last two teams we lost to
(Butler and UConn), and you felt like you could have been there,”
Brown said, referring to the two teams that played for the national
championship. ”It’s tough, it’s tough.”