Proud of my guys at Butler! So much heart! —Jazz guard Gordon Hayward
SALT LAKE CITY — Gordon Hayward owes the NBA schedule-maker.
Because the Utah Jazz had a back-to-back situation this weekend, the shooting guard not only got to sleep in, but he also ended up with afternoon free time during the period usually reserved for his game-day nap.
That allowed Hayward to watch a game of epic proportions going on in his home state of Indiana — a basketball game, not a video game, mind you.
The mega-matchup: his Butler Bulldogs vs. No. 1 Indiana.
As you can imagine, Mr. Butler was still beaming hours later when he talked about his school's 88-86 overtime victory over IU.
"Tremendous," Hayward said, grinning from ear to ear before the Jazz-Grizzlies game. "I was hyped by myself, fist-pumping and everything."
Including a bit of social-media celebrating.
"Proud of my guys at Butler! So much heart!" Hayward tweeted Saturday afternoon. "@BUCoachStevens and crew know how to get it done!"
In his excitement, Hayward couldn't help but be envious. During his two seasons at Butler, the Bulldogs didn't get the chance to play the Hoosiers.
"That would've been really cool if we could've played them. But they never really wanted to play Butler," Hayward said. "The fact they were No. 1 too — it was an even greater opportunity, so it was a good win for them."
Then again, Indiana might not want a repeat game against Butler after Saturday.
Of course, that's not how Hayward sees it.
"Maybe they can get a home-and-home now," he said.
The Jazz swingman also wishes his team could've played his parents' instate alma mater, Purdue.
Speaking of other Indiana schools, Saturday's win was a significant one for the small Indianapolis college from the A-10.
"They have bragging rights again for who's the best team in the state," Hayward said. "It just shows they're continuing to build their program and they can take down powerhouse teams like Indiana, Big 10 teams."
Hayward talked to friends who attended the game at the Pacers' home, Bankers Life Fieldhouse. The Jazz, who lost to Memphis 99-86 to put a damper on Hayward's day, play at Indiana next Wednesday.
"They said the atmosphere was great," he said. "It would've been cool to have been there and seen them play."
Hayward didn't get a chance to chat with his buddies that are still on the team — including Emerson Kampen, Rotnei Clarke and Chase Stigall — but he plans on reaching out to them today.
"Those guys are still some of my best friends," Hayward said. "It's exciting for them."
Not to mention for at least one Butler fan a few states away.
CHANGING POINTS: Jamaal Tinsley and Earl Watson continue to trade places behind starting point guard Mo Williams. On Friday, Watson got the backup duties, but it was Tinsley's turn Saturday.
Jazz coach Tyrone Corbin said match-ups are an important factor. He also wants to keep the veteran playmakers "fresh," even admitting part of his reason for going back and forth has been "because of age." Watson is 33; Tinsley is 34. Together, they have a combined 20 years of NBA experience, not counting this season.
"(I'm) just trying to give us the best chance to win," Corbin said. "At some point, it's going to have to change a little bit, but right now we'll try and keep using both guys and keep them both ready in case we have to use one more for extended minutes."
DEFENSIVE MINDED: Corbin is plenty pleased that his team's Mr. Hustle, DeMarre Carroll, was mentored during his Memphis days by the gritty and feisty Tony Allen.
"If you can model your game after a guy like him and be a defensive stopper, you'll play in this league a long time," Corbin said. "A lot of guys just don't want to play defense on a consistent basis like that. It's not a glamorous job most of the time."