Butler, lead by Kamar Baldwin and Coach LaVall Jordan in his third year at the school, seem to be perennially formidable, however, this year’s squad appears to be special, even after having been picked to finish 8th in the conference. Well, at least on the defensive end—the Bulldogs were able to start the conference season by holding Creighton, Providence, and St. John’s to 57 or 58 points in each of the first three games. That said, Butler dropped three in a row recently, including losing to Seton Hall at home and away losses to Villanova and DePaul, allowing between 76-79 points to each team.
The Bulldogs stopped the bleeding with a home, overtime win against Marquette (89-85) on Friday, on the back of their honored BIG EAST player of the week (31 pts), but Butler still allowed 71 points in regulation along with giving up 26 points to Howard and 22 points to Anim. Potential defensive player of the year candidate, Aaron Thompson, missed action with a wrist injury sustained last Tuesday night at Villanova. Nevertheless, Butler’s recent defensive woes tend to come from their own turnovers under pressure and failing to defend in resulting transition.
Mainly a small-ball team, Butler’s minutes guarding opponents’ center are mostly filled by Bryce Golden (6’9”), Bryce Nze (6’7”), and Derrik Smits (7’), but have a few other 6-6 and 6-7 wings in the rotation that fill passing lanes. While their defense has been up-and-down in conference play, Butler’s identity includes a slow pace and limiting the game to about 65 possessions each.
Georgetown, having a handful of days off this weekend, hopefully took some time to focus on jump-starting the offense from the first tip, as well as defending screens. Always supportive of Ewing and the team, several fans have articulated an unintentional benefit of seeing Patrick Ewing on the recruiting trail this weekend as an opportunity for his staff to step-up the creativity of the defensive drills. Turning Butler over, and getting them to foul in transition, will be vital to a good start.
For the love of all that is good, Georgetown needs to show some different pressure and zone early or this game will be over in the first 8 minutes, too.
Here are the links:
It will be a clash of styles. Butler’s adjusted tempo is 337th out of 351 teams in D1, with games averaging just 65.1 possessions. Their average possession length is 19.9 seconds, ranking 344th. [E]very single game Butler has played has been under 70, including a 57-possession rock fight against Mizzou.
The contrasts don’t stop at tempo. Butler’s defense has been downright stifling through 14 games; opponents have an effective field goal percentage of only 42.3%, ranking 11th best. And they’ve been equally good at defending the perimeter (27.0% opponent shooting percentage, 12th best) and the paint (43.4% opponent shooting percentage, 33rd best).
BIG EAST NET Rankings (1/27/20)— BIG EAST BUCKETS (@BIGEAST_BUCKETS) January 27, 2020
Five @BIGEASTMBB squads ranked in Top 26 & all current teams are in Top 79!
#12 Seton Hall
#66 St. John's
#96 UConn (Next Season) pic.twitter.com/v1qRxZQSK8
The Bulldogs play a slow-paced (332nd in the country, just over 65 possessions per game), grinding offense and defense, assisting on a high percentage of baskets and better scoring inside (both on slashing plays to the rim and in the post) than on three-pointers.
Kamar Baldwin (#3), a high-usage guard who plays with strength and toughness, gets the main publicity for the team. He’s a solid shooter, scoring on 34% of his threes and 45% of his twos. A jump shooter, he has struggled to get to the line this season more than previous years. He is a very good rebounder and passer, and will be the player the Bulldogs look to for creative scoring. Defensively, Baldwin has speed, energy, and the will to fight, just as his backcourt-mate Aaron Thompson (#2).
Butler’s Baldwin, Villanova’s Robinson-Earl Earn #BIGEASTmbb Weekly Honors https://t.co/M1pbK6kMYy— D1SportsNet (@d1sportsnet) January 27, 2020
Butler guard Kamar Baldwin has been named BIG EAST Player of the Week and Villanova forward Jeremiah Robinson-Earl has been chosen BIG EAST Freshman of the Week. Baldwin led th…
Defensively, this Butler team, which hadn’t given up 70 points in a game this season, surrendered back-to-back worst marks of 78 and 79 points to Seton Hall and DePaul, respectively. Perimeter defense in particular was an issue against the Blue Demons, who shot nearly 60% – 10-of-17 – from beyond the arc against Butler...
Nearly 30% of the points Butler has given up in its last two games have come from the free throw line. The Pirates were 21-of-25 from the charity stripe while the Blue Demons were 25-of-32... The Bulldogs looked uncharacteristically caught off guard at times in their last two games, fouling jump shooters and getting to their spots late, resulting in occasions of sticking an arm or a leg in while a player was driving to the basket.
The Bulldogs’ recent turnover problems also continued this past week. Butler coughed up the ball 11 times against Seton Hall, but a more alarming 17 times at DePaul...
Those three losses in Big East play have a commonality: Butler’s defense sucked. Thanks to the handy dandy KenPom.com Game Plan chart, I can authoritatively tell you that the last three games have been the three worst defensive performances of the season for Butler in terms of points per 100 possessions.
The Bulldogs have given up raw unadjusted totals of 114, 116.3, and 118.6 points per 100 possessions in their last three games, and their worst performance of the three was in fact against DePaul. Before the last three games, Butler had given up more than 96 points per 100 possessions on just one occasion: a 68-67 neutral site victory over Stanford.
FINAL: #Butler 89, Marquette 85. What a gutsy, much-needed win for the Dawgs.— Lukas Harkins (@hardwiredsports) January 25, 2020
-Kamar Baldwin is a baaaaaaad man
-Small ball for the Dawgs worked
-Baddley was superb
-Dawgs hit FTs when they mattered most
-I’ll have my full takeaways article out in the am. #GoDawgs
Henry Baddley, after not seeing much playing time during the first two months of this season, epitomized the “next man up” philosophy in this game with Christian David (ACL: season) and Aaron Thompson (wrist: day-to-day) out. He played 30 minutes and made a ton of winning plays, as was evidenced by his +11 rating on the court. Baddley was excellent in defending Howard and was consistently active offensively. He made several back-cuts, buried a trifecta, and came away with three steals.
Additionally, Sean McDermott returned to his usual high level of play after struggling a bit in recent weeks. He finished the game with 16 points and 9 rebounds on efficient shooting marks. Marquette did a nice job limiting his 3-point opportunities, but McDermott was able to score at the rim on a couple of back-door cuts. His growth to become more than just a standstill shooter has been a major reason for Butler’s success this season and that continued against MU.
The Bulldogs (16-4, 4-3 in the Big East) went on a 9-0 run from the 2:21 mark in the second half to the 8-second mark, turning a six-point deficit to a three-point lead. Baldwin scored every one of those points...
Baldwin had to adjust on the fly. He learned early that his 3-point shot was off, and that dealing with Marquette big man Theo John anywhere near the rim was going to be a problem. Baldwin had five shots blocked, and John blocked seven in the game. Baldwin still attacked the rim when he could and finished with four layups and had another floater in the paint, but the other five came in the mid-range including some of the biggest shots he hit all night. That included the pull-up jumper that started the 9-0 run late in the second half and all four of his buckets in overtime.
This week’s edition of the @butlercollegian @ButlerMBB Breakdown gives a snapshot of the AP Poll, KenPom and NET Rankings. What do these numbers mean? Where does Butler stand? pic.twitter.com/jv7zpzl4Af— Chelsea Groves (@chelsgroves21) January 22, 2020
Butler vs. Marquette: Quick hits | With Aaron Thompson and Christian David sidelined, Henry Baddley stepped up in a big way. The senior guard/forward, who was averaging just 9.2 minutes and 1.8 points per game this season, was pressed into increased duty following the news that Thompson, the facilitator of the team’s offense and one of the best defensive guards in the country, would be out for the game due to a wrist injury. And with David out for the season due to an ACL tear, the Bulldogs’ depth would be tested. Baddley answered the call, helping to limit the nation’s leading scorer, Markus Howard, to an inefficient 8-of-27 from the floor. Baddley scored a season-high 10 points on 4-of-5 from the field as well...
Baddley and Baldwin did a very impressive job of limiting Markus Howard. After scoring 18 points in the first half, the senior scored just eight in the second 20 minutes and didn’t have a single point in overtime. Performing a role that typically would have been designated to Thompson, Baldwin and Baddley keep Howard from getting too many open looks. Howard, who was averaging nearly 32 points per game in Big East play, finished with 26 points, his second-lowest output in eight conference contests.
These various points of view fused into a fairly clear picture. Jordan had to simplify what Butler was doing, and then he had to be more demanding, in his own way, on the players to leave no small detail unattended. “It was just clarity,” he says. “Then we can be clearer with these guys, so they can hold each other accountable with clarity.”
Some of it was simplifying in ways the general public would never see; Jordan, for example, has maybe a half-dozen drills he likes for working on transition defense. He decided that was maybe too many defensive transition drills to include in practice schedules and whittled the list to two that Butler could do over and over and commit to muscle memory. “Coach (John) Beilein used to say, ‘You can do anything you want, you can’t do everything you want,’ ” Jordan says. “Be good at what you want to be good at.” The end result is less jargon and terminology on offense and assistants handling more on the defensive side with Jordan serving as more of an editor of their ideas.
Through Friday's games, #Butler remains No. 8 in NET.— David Woods (@DavidWoods007) January 25, 2020
Three teams in nation have totaled 10 wins from quads 1 and 2: Kansas, West Virginia, Butler. Baylor, Seton Hall, Oregon have nine each.
Saturday’s game marked the third time in five Big East games in which they have given the ball away at least 17 times. Their turnover percentage in league play is 22.6 percent, the highest in the Big East.
DePaul earned some of those with full-court pressure, but many of them came from the Bulldogs simply trying to do too much — dribbling into traffic or trying to force passes into tight windows. The problem became more pronounced as the Bulldogs tried to make a comeback...
But if Saturday is an indication, the Bulldogs could struggle against elite, skilled big men, because they never seemed to have an answer for Paul Reed. The 6-foot-9, 220-pound center burned the Bulldogs inside and out, making eight of nine field goals, two of three 3-pointers and all five of his free throws to finish with a game-high 23 points and nine rebounds.
Next pup up at Butler!— ESPN (@espn) January 25, 2020
Blue IV, who will replace retiring Blue III, was introduced on Friday and he is adorable pic.twitter.com/ZcN6f8LE9D
Butler University’s bulldog mascot Blue III is one of the most beloved in all of sports, but after serving the school for seven years, Blue III is set to retire at the end of the season. On Friday night, Blue III’s successor, Blue IV, was unveiled at Hinkle Fieldhouse before a game against Marquette in a Lion King-style ceremony, and you really, really need to see the photos. Blue IV is just a few months old, and was born on October 30th. The puppy will take over as the active mascot at the start of the next academic year,
Like his father @officialmutombo, Class of 2021 big man @RyanMutombo is an enforcer in the paint on both ends. He's now becoming a popular target for college basketball programs all over the country. | https://t.co/hlz4aRGrun pic.twitter.com/ZIHZgaCgf8— Dan McDonald (@RivalsDan) January 26, 2020
Patrick Ewing spoke about Kobe at Georgetown today. pic.twitter.com/HNm3CDUgQa— Ava Wallace (@avarwallace) January 27, 2020
Georgetown guard Mac McClung among the legions of young players that idolized Kobe Bryant. "He was the only (player) I ever looked up to." pic.twitter.com/QVUMv2C8K1— Ben Standig (@BenStandig) January 27, 2020