Depending on who you talk to, the Butler Bulldogs are either the greatest made-for-the-movie-screen-again story of our lives or the most false Cinderella team of all-time. As is the case with most things, the truth is probably somewhere in the middle. But, we're not really into all that honesty and truthfullness here at "One Blogging Moment". We like to exploit things to their fullest potential, which is why I proudly declare the Butler Bulldogs to be "America's Team". If you don't like them, you're a terrorist. And, even worse, if you don't read this post and get to know them, you might as well be taking a massive dump on a special edition Hoosiers Blu-ray. And you know Gene Hackman doesn't deserve that.
Ladies and gentlemen, your Butler Bulldogs!
#5 Ronald Nored, 6-0, G, Sophomore
2009-10 stats: 6.0 ppg, 3.7 apg, 2.9 rpg, 1.8 spg, 41% from the field, 18% from three
Nored, a starter at the point since the day he first stepped on campus (along with classmates Shelvin Mack and Gordon Hayward), improved steadily in each statistical category as a sophomore, though no improvement was more important than his assist-to-turnover ratio, which jumped to 1.82. Unforunately, that is also his three-point percentage (with a decimal moved, of course). But, despite his scoring deficiencies, Brad Stevens counts on his sophomore floor general greatly, playing him in 145 of 160 minutes this tournament. Nored has rewarded his coach with outstanding defense (3.0 spg for the Horizon League co-Defensive Player of the Year) and clutch play (four points and two steals in the final minute against Kansas State). These post-season heroics also make Stevens hopeful that Nored finally has his legs back under him after spending December tracking Santa.
#1 Shelvin Mack, 6-3, G, Sophomore
2009-10 stats: 14.2 ppg, 3.1 apg, 3.8 rpg, 1.4 spg 45% from field, 39% from three
Mack, another member of the Bulldogs’ special class of 2008, comes from a town called Lexington, which I believe has a fairly prominent basketball team, and also stormed onto the scene last year as a freshman, averaging 11.9 points, 4.4 rebounds and 3.5 assists while starting all 32 games. Mack followed up that breakout season by joining Gordon Hayward on the gold medal-winning U19 Team USA over the summer. This season, Mack has again been the rock in Butler’s backcourt and the guy who got the magic rolling this tournament with 18 second-half points against UTEP propelling them to a comeback win. If you didn’t get familiar with his mom last weekend (get your mind out of the gutter), you’ll get to know her this weekend. She’s Shelvin’s #1 cheerleader and she bleeds that Butler blue.
#21 Willie Veasley, 6-3, F, Junior
2009-10 stats: 10.1 ppg, 4.3 rpg, 0.3 apg, 50% from the field, 47
The lone senior in the Bulldog lineup, Veasley does all the elderly things you’d expect. He plays defense and shoots efficiently from the field, though his first injury-free season since his freshman year has him avoiding that Bengay smell. Brad Stevens calls him the Bulldogs’ Shane Battier, which, given Veasley’s smooth head (get your mind out of the gutter) and his placement on the Horizon League All-Defensive team, is a mighty fine compliment. His first name is also a slang term for...umm...well, you know.
#20 Gordon Hayward, 6-9, F, Sophomore
2009-10 stats: 15.5 ppg, 8.2 rpg, 1.7 apg, 47% from the field, 30% from three
If Butler was N’ Sync, then Hayward would be their Timberlake. His baby face has been plastered on every television station for two weeks now and he’s gotten so much publicity, even my wife knows that he struggled with his three-point shot all season. Hayward won Horizon Player of the Year, played for Team USA, projects as a first-round pick and, like Timberlake, did not sleep with Britney Spears. Or at least I assume that he didn't. I've learned not to doubt the Gordonator. You’ll see a lot of Gordon Hayward’s face again this weekend. Just make sure that if you’re watching in HD, you keep an eye out for any sprouting hairs. He’s in a race with Coach Brad Stevens.
#54 Matt Howard, 6-8, F, Junior
2009-10 stats: 11.8 ppg, 5.3 rpg
The First Team All-Horizon League center is unquestionably my favorite player left in the entire tournament. Howard is a step too slow it seems and often appears to jump barely high enough for his laces to stop touching the court. But, he goes after people, fouls be damned, and mixes it up inside, exemplifying every white basketball player cliché nearly every time he steps on the court. Plus, he wears a t-shirt and has willingly taken a backseat for the betterment of the team after winning Horizon League Player of the Year last year. They even have “Matt Howard Day” back in Connersville, Indiana. Matt Howard, I love you. Facebook me.
Zach Hahn: Zach Hoff. Zach Hahn. Zach Hoff. Zach Hahn. Zach Hoff. Butler’s sixth man scored a team-high 13 in season opening win over Drake.
Shawn Vanzant: Last name should be two words. Averages 2 points off the bench and plans to live off of his royalties from “End of the Road” forever.
Avery Jukes: And Avery Scores - to the tune of, 2.7 ppg to be exact.