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Sleeping with the Enemy: The Bulldogs of Butler

After Saturday’s victory against Seton Hall, the Hoyas have a chance to earn their second consecutive win Tuesday at Butler. Here to dish on all things Butler (and then some) is our old friend @ButlerVictory. Let’s go!

So what’s your feeling been about this year’s Butler team?

Back in November/December, the feeling was not a pleasant one. In watching the brand of basketball they were playing, how lost they were offensively, it seemed like it was probably going to be a long year with little to no shot of making the tournament. Which makes me all the more impressed with the way Butler has come together under a new staff and after losing a few big contributors from last year. This team has it’s defensive issues like many other Big East programs this year, but the improvement in overall activity and purpose on that side of the ball has been very noticeable. Offensively, Kelan Martin is perhaps the least talked about stud on a national level and has really matured in many ways as a senior. The general problem offensively for Butler is that there’s really nobody outside of Martin and Kamar Baldwin that opponents have to worry about or gameplan for, which puts a lot of pressure on them. When there is a 3rd, 4th guy that gives a significant contribution on that end of the floor, this team can be pretty fun to watch.

What do you think has been the key to Butler being so consistent each year, even amid roster turnovers and coaching changes?

The coaching changes (especially the unexpected types) are hard on a program, no matter how you look at it. It makes it harder to gain traction in recruiting, for one thing, and not having consistency at the top provides many challenges for players. I think a lot of the key to the general consistency is the character of the players Butler has had, really just being resilient and unselfish in general. It’s a culture thing. I often think the whole “Butler Way” thing can be pretty nauseating, frankly, but there is something to it. They recruit a type of kid that buys into that culture and team concept, and the coaches have really been a part of that as well. It’s going to take more coaching stability and higher level recruiting to compete at or near the top 1/3 of this league, and the 2019 class is going to be extremely important, but the overall consistency is something to be proud of for sure.

Speaking of coaching changes, how would you grade LaVall Jordan’s first year as coach?

Given the circumstances, I’d say it’s been pretty dang impressive...probably about a B+ or A- at this moment. As was mentioned, things were pretty bleak in the first 6-8 weeks of the season when playing against teams that were any good. I think most fans really underestimate how difficult it is on players to have virtually an entire staff changed, especially so unexpectedly as it was, and Jordan has done an outstanding job with the growth and development of bringing this team together on the fly. Sure, Jordan played and was an assistant at Butler, but that was quite a while ago. With only one year of head coaching experience under his belt, I feel like he has done a very good job of getting the players to buy in after some early struggles.

Kelan Martin seems to have been on fire lately. What do you think has improved the most in his game this season?

His decision making. He is always going to have some moments where shot selection is a little questionable and he’s forcing some things (heat check, anyone?), but those moments have dwindled considerably. I didn’t think that was possible, but I think coach Jordan has done a very good job with him in that regard. I think Martin has become a better passer, a better leader, a better defender, and has just been a different player as a senior.

After Georgetown was able to pull out the win over Seton Hall, how worried are you about an upset? Who do you think will need to step up for Butler to win?

The worry is real, for sure. Georgetown’s overall talent level is probably better than their record would indicate, and Butler isn’t good enough to think anyone in this league is beatable without a focused performance. Butler was pretty lucky to beat the Hoyas the first time around, and while I think the Bulldogs are a significantly better team at this point, the same could be said for Georgetown. Butler really needs almost anyone outside of Martin and Baldwin to step up -- whether that’s Paul Jorgensen who has struggled lately, or Sean McDermott off the bench, or one of the bigs.

Please rank your top three chocolate or candy bars and explain your reasoning.

I’m a pretty boring kind of guy when it comes to this, not big into chocolate/sweets in general, but a frozen Snickers bar has to be at the top of the list. The frozen part of that is key, a real game-changer. After that, I would go peanut M&M’s. Always been a big proponent of the sweet and salty mix. Third, I’m gonna go with the old 100 Grand. That bar just doesn’t get enough respect. The combo between the chocolate, caramel, and crispy outer texture is very underrated.

What is your favorite sport to watch in the Winter Olympics?

This is a tough one. Think I’m going to have to go with the luge. Coming in a close second and third would be the bobsled and downhill skiing. But those luge people are at least half crazy and that’s fun to watch. Basically zero protection other than the helmet, going a million miles an hour while laying flat on your back and driving that’s both impressive and stressful to watch.

Final score prediction?

Butler 84, Georgetown 76