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Old 11-14-2012, 08:37 AM   #1 (permalink)
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Butler

Clearly it’s too early to make judgments about our two newest members, but the games on Wednesday certainly gave us A-10 fans a taste of what to expect.

Personally, I partly discount the Butler loss. The Bulldogs looked very much like a work in progress and a team searching for its identity.

Start with the offense. I didn’t see the normal sharp cuts, crisp passing and ball motion I associate with Butler. Clarke and Dunham looked for their shot too quickly and they hoisted some contested treys after a few dribbles. That’s why they didn’t shoot so well.

The guards need to move the ball first, try to set up teammates and shoot within the flow of the offense. It’s a lot easier to hit a trey behind a good screen than shooting in the face of a defender. Quick shots by the guards also leads to other players standing around. It happened last night.

Yes, it would help if Butler showed a better inside game, but a good team doesn’t have to have a consistent post presence to run a crisp offense. Ball movement and player movement – the Butler way! - is critical. That was mostly absent last night.

The defense, for its part, was subpar. Frankly, I cannot remember the last time an A-10 team started two white guys in the backcourt. Dunham especially looked like a freshman on defense - couple of picks almost knocked him to the floor. Clarke isn’t known as a great defender, either.

That's going to be a problem all year long. Neither one of those guys can guard a topflight A-10 PG like Williams or Duren and so forth.

The Butler frontcourt was beaten up pretty good by Xavier, too. The Bulldogs don’t have great length and athleticism inside. Doesn’t mean players can’t box out, however.

The good news is that Xavier actually has more length and athleticism in its frontcourt than a majority of A-10 teams. Still, Andrew Smith is not going to dominate in our league. He tends not to play well against big, athletic frontcourts. Marshall is not a go-to post player, either.

I expect Butler to show lots of improvement over the year, and Hinkle will prove to be a very tough place for most A-10 teams to play. Finishing in the top 5 of the league, however, won’t be easy. Not at all.

Last edited by WH; 11-21-2012 at 05:45 AM.
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Old 11-14-2012, 09:23 AM   #2 (permalink)
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Re: Butler

I think Stevens will fix everything that can be fixed, and a strong home court will keep Butler competitive. But ultimately, their lack of athleticism and lack of a play making PG will be keep them in the middle of the pack.

I see basketball in three acts. Transition, base offense, and late clock ad-libs.

Butler will struggle defensively in transition. They don't have the horses to run. Offensively they can have success, because the defense will be cheating on the quick three. They can attack with cutting bigs on the secondary break, as well as a quick reversal for an open three.

Base offense is where Butler will have success. They will run good sets and will scout well enough to slow yours. Even lesser athletes can defend when they have a good idea of what their man is doing. The more shots taken with somewhere between 20 and 10 seconds on the shot clock, the better the chances Butler will win a game.

Late clock situations will be a struggle for Butler. These can often mimic the transition game because it becomes more about sheer athleticism, and it's far less predictable than base offense. When the base offense is run and no shot is had, the PG typically pulls the ball out and sets up something, be it a high ball screen, a quick 1-4 set, or a two man high-low game. Essentially, there is a lot of one-on-one action. Defensively Butler will struggle with the high ball screen against quick guards, and they will struggle to handle skilled bigs. When it becomes a choice for a defender, I don't see the ability to handle a guard, nor the speed to rotate everyone to close the passing lanes a high screen or 1-4 set will create. In fact, I wonder if A10 teams with better guards will just scrap the base offense altogether and just run 30 seconds of quick hit sets. There are a lot of mismatches you can create on Butler's defense in a quick strike setting.

Offensively Butler has no one who can consistently create off a ball screen and the bigs will struggle to score 1-on-1 against A10 bigs. I think late clock situations will lead to a lot of open looks and FTs for opponents, and a lot of rushed, contested jumpers for Butler.

Overall, Butler will be decent, and they certainly will get better. But so will everyone else. Stevens will help. Given an average coach, Butler would struggle to win 5 games. Stevens is worth 4 wins on his own, so Butler will likely win between 7-9 A10 games. But coaching can only do so much. I don't think this is a roster built to win big in this league. Not yet. The immediate entry in the league hurt Butler a lot more than VCU. They just aren't A10 ready.
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Old 11-14-2012, 09:36 AM   #3 (permalink)
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Re: Butler

Butler got physically bullied, and it affected every facet of their game. They were being pushed out of their comfort zone all game. In general, I think the A10 has a more physical style than the Horizon, so they are going to have to adjust. They are going to look a lot better against a team that does not have the athleticism and strength to get up in their grills on every possession.
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Old 11-14-2012, 11:48 AM   #4 (permalink)
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Re: Butler

I think both VCU and Butler will struggle in their first year in the A-10
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Old 11-14-2012, 03:22 PM   #5 (permalink)
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Re: Butler




Butlerís Blowout Loss to Xavier Raises Concerns About the Bulldogs (Jeff Eisenberg - November 14, 2012)

When Butler jettisoned Chrishawn Hopkins in September as a result of an accumulation of team rules violations, it was easy to assume the Bulldogs could absorb the loss of a guard who averaged a modest 9.1 points per game last season.

What stands out most after watching Butler's alarming 62-47 loss at Xavier on Tuesday is how wrong that assumption may have been.

One reason the Bulldogs shot 36.5 percent from the field and sank just 4 of 18 3-pointers was because they missed Hopkins' ability to create off the dribble. Yes, Hopkins was turnover prone and more of a combo guard than a true point guard, but the jet-quick 6-foot-1 junior at least had the ability to beat any opposing defender off the dribble, get into the lane and attack the rim.

No other player is as adept at that as Hopkins, so the Bulldogs struggled terribly when Xavier extended its defense beyond the arc and dared Butler's guards to either sink heavily contested 3-pointers or make plays off the dribble. It turned out Butler could do neither consistently.

Arkansas transfer Rotnei Clarke and freshman Kellen Dunham, the two players expected to fix Butler's long-range shooting woes from a year ago, missed 8 of 10 attempts from beyond the arc because they seldom could get off a clean look. Neither Clarke nor any of Butler's other perimeter players had any luck beating the quicker, physical Xavier guards off the dribble either.

The result was a one-sided loss to a Xavier team projected ninth in the Atlantic 10 before the start of the season. Perhaps the Musketeers will exceed those predictions in spite of the loss of Tu Holloway, Mark Lyons, Dez Wells and several others from last season, but this certainly is not a Xavier team with the talent, depth or experience of past versions.

That Butler failed to remain competitive with the Musketeers raises questions about how well the Bulldogs are equipped to handle the transition from the Horizon League to the Atlantic 10 this winter. Xavier executed its defensive game plan brilliantly Tuesday, but it certainly isn't the only team on Butler's schedule with quick, physical perimeter players.

Butler coach Brad Stevens is a tactical master, but there aren't any obvious ways for him to free up his shooters.

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Old 11-14-2012, 03:29 PM   #6 (permalink)
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Re: Butler

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Originally Posted by Muddy Waters View Post


Butlerís Blowout Loss to Xavier Raises Concerns About the Bulldogs (Jeff Eisenberg - November 14, 2012)

When Butler jettisoned Chrishawn Hopkins in September as a result of an accumulation of team rules violations, it was easy to assume the Bulldogs could absorb the loss of a guard who averaged a modest 9.1 points per game last season.

What stands out most after watching Butler's alarming 62-47 loss at Xavier on Tuesday is how wrong that assumption may have been.

One reason the Bulldogs shot 36.5 percent from the field and sank just 4 of 18 3-pointers was because they missed Hopkins' ability to create off the dribble. Yes, Hopkins was turnover prone and more of a combo guard than a true point guard, but the jet-quick 6-foot-1 junior at least had the ability to beat any opposing defender off the dribble, get into the lane and attack the rim.

No other player is as adept at that as Hopkins, so the Bulldogs struggled terribly when Xavier extended its defense beyond the arc and dared Butler's guards to either sink heavily contested 3-pointers or make plays off the dribble. It turned out Butler could do neither consistently.

Arkansas transfer Rotnei Clarke and freshman Kellen Dunham, the two players expected to fix Butler's long-range shooting woes from a year ago, missed 8 of 10 attempts from beyond the arc because they seldom could get off a clean look. Neither Clarke nor any of Butler's other perimeter players had any luck beating the quicker, physical Xavier guards off the dribble either.

The result was a one-sided loss to a Xavier team projected ninth in the Atlantic 10 before the start of the season. Perhaps the Musketeers will exceed those predictions in spite of the loss of Tu Holloway, Mark Lyons, Dez Wells and several others from last season, but this certainly is not a Xavier team with the talent, depth or experience of past versions.

That Butler failed to remain competitive with the Musketeers raises questions about how well the Bulldogs are equipped to handle the transition from the Horizon League to the Atlantic 10 this winter. Xavier executed its defensive game plan brilliantly Tuesday, but it certainly isn't the only team on Butler's schedule with quick, physical perimeter players.

Butler coach Brad Stevens is a tactical master, but there aren't any obvious ways for him to free up his shooters.
Yikes! Sounds like they are saying Coach Mack can recruit AND coach. Who knew?
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Old 11-14-2012, 03:38 PM   #7 (permalink)
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Re: Butler

Must be some kind of mistake
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Old 11-14-2012, 07:51 PM   #8 (permalink)
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Re: Butler

If going to Xavier and getting beat up means you're going to strugggle to adjust to the A-10, well then there are 13 other A-10 teams that are really struggling to adjust to the conference as well (VCU has not yet had their first crack). Butler is gonna be just fine. The A-10 is not that big and bad (as Wichita State, Santa Clara, Robert Morris and Albany, among others, can attest).
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Old 11-14-2012, 08:25 PM   #9 (permalink)
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Re: Butler

Title_BU is conspicuously absent. Shame.
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Old 11-15-2012, 03:52 AM   #10 (permalink)
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Re: Butler

I don't buy that Butler can't handle the physicality of the A10. Butler has been known as a very physical team for years. If you care, go back and read the Pitt, Syracuse, Kansas St, etc forums from when Butler best them in the tournament. They all complained about Butler being too physical and their teams getting out toughed. Nearly every BCS team was amazed by the physicality of those teams. Now, obviously this team is different, but if they end up not being tough enough it has nothing to do with them being from the horizon league.

The reason Butler struggled was because their best players didn't play well. Jones and Clarke are part of the core of this team, and they were absolutely awful. They don't have the depth on the perimeter to make up for both of them playing so poor. But again, I don't buy Xavier's physical defense being something that they can't handle. Clarke had a ton on success in the SEC and Jones is built like an NFL linebacker who loves contact. Those 2 simply had a very poor game while Xavier had players step up and do things that I think were unexpected at this point. That's why they got blown out. If those 2 guys continue to play like that then Butler is in for a long season, but I doubt we see many games this poor from them.
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Old 11-15-2012, 06:17 AM   #11 (permalink)
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Re: Butler

Always laugh when I see "our guy didn't play well like he usually does". There is a reason. The reason is he got OUTPLAYED. Coach Mack realized Clarke was the guy who could beat him and game planned him. Dee Davis executed it to perfection. This article sez it all:

http://www.indystar.com/article/2012...polis%20Sports

He was 1 for 7 from 3 for a REASON. Give some credit to the D.
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Old 11-15-2012, 06:32 AM   #12 (permalink)
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Re: Butler

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I don't buy that Butler can't handle the physicality of the A10. Butler has been known as a very physical team for years. If you care, go back and read the Pitt, Syracuse, Kansas St, etc forums from when Butler best them in the tournament. They all complained about Butler being too physical and their teams getting out toughed. Nearly every BCS team was amazed by the physicality of those teams. Now, obviously this team is different, but if they end up not being tough enough it has nothing to do with them being from the horizon league.

The reason Butler struggled was because their best players didn't play well. Jones and Clarke are part of the core of this team, and they were absolutely awful. They don't have the depth on the perimeter to make up for both of them playing so poor. But again, I don't buy Xavier's physical defense being something that they can't handle. Clarke had a ton on success in the SEC and Jones is built like an NFL linebacker who loves contact. Those 2 simply had a very poor game while Xavier had players step up and do things that I think were unexpected at this point. That's why they got blown out. If those 2 guys continue to play like that then Butler is in for a long season, but I doubt we see many games this poor from them.

You can bring up past teams all you want but gone is Howard, Mack, and Nored. But Imo, I don't think this was so much a toughness issue as it a lack of horses statement. I don't think there is ONE player on BU right now that can break down a defense.
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Old 11-15-2012, 06:59 AM   #13 (permalink)
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Re: Butler

This Butler team is not as tough physically as past ones. Mack and Norad were both excellent defenders and very physical. Now we are looking at Clarke and Dunham? These guys can shoot, but Butler's defense won't be A-10 caliber with those two defending the perimeter for the greater part of a game.

IMO, Dunham has to cover legit small forwards in the A-10. Not a lot of them are great scorers. Roosevelt Jones can take the 2-guard. Problem is, lots of A-10 teams run three-guard offenses some or all of the time. Dunham and Clarke cannot hide then.
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Old 11-15-2012, 08:06 AM   #14 (permalink)
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Re: Butler

I think in the long run, Butler will be fine - but this year could get ugly.

I recall the first year Xavier was in the A10. It was, I think, the only year they had a losing record in the last 21. This is just going to be the adjustment period, and my guess is that Stevens will change his recruiting focus after one year of conference play. Prospects' strengths will be rated differently in years to come. And, he will get interest from prospects who had previously shown no interest in Butler.
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Old 11-15-2012, 08:23 AM   #15 (permalink)
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Re: Butler

Butler had a bad day and X had a good day. It really is that simple folks. Better question is what happens when both teams have a good day - i hope we find out in a few months.

Butler will get a fair share of wins against A10 teams, and they will get them starting this year. Brad Stephens may be the best coach in the league. Is the A10 better than the horizon - absolutely. Will Butler take it on the chin more frequently - no doubt. But this whole 'sky is falling in on Butler' mentality is absurd.

Here's my question to you - X beat Butler this year. Will your team? Few will be able to say yes when we look back on it.
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