Tag:Butler Bulldogs
Posted on: February 3, 2011 10:02 am
Edited on: February 3, 2011 10:19 am
 

Butler's Hinkle Fieldhouse will get a facelift

Sunlight through Hinkle's windows is heavenly

Posted by Eric Angevine

With a hat tip to my hoops brother-in-arms Mike Miller at Beyond the Arc, I thought I'd share a rare bit of good news in this refractory period for Butler basketball. According to the Indianapolis Star, historic Hinkle Fieldhouse has been awarded $700,000 in preservation funds by the federal Save America's Treasures grant program. For the record, that's nearly what it cost to build the beloved building way back in 1928.

This is great news, not only for Butler University, but for college basketball as a sport. In a season where Oregon's Mac Court saw its last DI action, fans are more mindful than ever that our classic structures are in danger of fading away. There's no denying that a modern facility becomes ever more crucial in attracting talented players, but that doesn't mean our beautiful old buildings must be torn down. Including Hinkle Fieldhouse on a list of preservation projects alongside the National Cathedral in Washington D.C., the archives of the Dance Theater of Harlem and a collection of Norman Rockwell's art, amongst other projects, acknowledges that a mere athletic facility can become a work of art in the eyes of history.

I like what the University of Kentucky did with Memorial Coliseum, which is, let's face it, a much more attractive building than Rupp Arena. Memorial survives on the UK campus as a venue for other sports, attached to the men's basketball workout facilities as a constant reminder of where the Wildcats came from. It was, after all, the home of the Baron of the Bluegrass, who never coached in the building that was named after him.

I hope this trend of preservation continues. The SAT grant program has shown us a way to honor basketball's past without getting stuck in it. It's a trend we can all hope will continue when time comes to decide the fates of buildings like Fordham's Rose Hill Gym, Minnesota's Williams Arena, Memorial Gym at Vanderbilt, Dayton Arena, The Palestra, and so many others.

Photo: Eric Angevine
Posted on: January 24, 2011 3:13 pm
 

Butler's down season is puzzling

Posted by Eric Angevine

Let’s get one thing straight: I did not expect Butler to dominate the Horizon League this season. I figured a road loss to Cleveland State was a likelihood, and was intrigued by the addition of Ray McCallum, Jr. to his father’s squad at Detroit. Clearly, there would be no 18-0 run through the conference. Still, I thought, the team has seniors, and some promising freshmen, and things would be OK.

Brad Stevens is puzzledNow, I’m not so sure. A sweep of the Bulldogs by Wisconsin-Milwaukee didn’t figure anywhere in my preseason musings. Right now, the top two teams in the Horizon are Valparaiso, under quiet coaching legend Homer Drew, and Cleveland State. Both teams are 7-2, with Butler and Wright State hanging a full game back at 6-3. That’s what makes this past weekend’s result so baffling: the Panthers aren’t even one of the Horizon’s best teams. They’re 5-5 overall, with two of those wins coming against the league’s rock stars from Indianapolis.

Sure, you can always say that the Bulldogs have a target on their backs, that they get an opponent’s best effort every game due to their NCAA championship game appearance to end last season, but that dawg don’t hunt. Butler has been the league bully for a decade now – they always get an opponent’s best effort. This year, they just don’t have the juice to withstand such efforts.

When I say ‘juice’, I mean defense. Brad Stevens (right) still has the best offensive team in the Horizon by a wide margin. The Bulldogs maintain a 114.3 adjusted offensive efficiency mark, which is nearly ten points better than Cleveland State, the next closest challenger. Looking at kenpom.com’s defensive efficiency numbers, however, Butler posts a 98.7. Defensive numbers are like golf scores – the lower the better. The Bulldogs have the worst number out of the league’s top four teams right now, and they’re inching toward the above-100 club, which features every member of the league’s bottom six, including Milwaukee.

If this trend of defensive futility continues, allowing Valpo and Cleveland State to hold onto the top two spots in the Horizon, Butler will be in a position they’re not at all familiar with – they’ll have to go on the road in the league tournament, which rewards the top two regular-season finishers with double byes and awards home court in the quarters and semis to the No 1 seed. The final is played at the venue of the highest remaining seed. There have been plenty of those games played in historic Hinkle Fieldhouse. This year, the conference’s auto-bid hopefuls may have to go through Cleveland, OH or Valparaiso, IN.

That’s what Butler is now: an auto-bid hopeful, just like everyone else in the Horizon. They don’t have the profile of an at-large team, no matter what they did in the non-conference portion of the schedule, and as of today, winning the Diamond Head Classic by beating Florida State and Washington State doesn’t look like much to brag on.

Beating Butler is great for the teams that have done so. The Bulldogs are a class act, and a worthy target for an ambitious team. Certainly nobody is going to give them a break. But this setback for the Bulldogs is also a setback for the Horizon League if the auto-bid goes to a team that gets blown out in the first round of the Big Dance. Beating Butler is a thrill, but it must inspire greater efforts down the road – reminiscent of recent appearances by Cleveland State (2007) and Milwaukee under Bruce Pearl  -- if it’s to be a harbinger of great things to come in the Horizon League.

Posted on: January 14, 2011 4:46 pm
Edited on: January 15, 2011 11:10 am
 

Friday night mid-major preview



Posted by Eric Angevine


Saturday

Temple at Duquesne, 12:00 p.m. ET:
Duquesne hasn't had much press this season, but they're 2-0 in the A-10, and that's not easy to accomplish. The Dukes have been on a five-game win streak since a 2OT loss to George Mason in December, and the Palumbo Center should be rocking as the nationally-ranked Owls come to visit in a game that could easily go either way .

ODU at Hofstra, 4:00 p.m. ET:  Old Dominion was picked to win the CAA going away. Now they've stumbled to a 3-2 record in the league, with both losses coming on the road. The fact that they're traveling to Hofstra, where the sublime Charles Jenkins has led the Pride to a 5-0 record, makes this a watershed game for the Monarchs and for the CAA in general.

San Diego State at New Mexico, 6:00 p.m. ET, CBS College Sports:
That the Lobos aren't ranked this season should not deter you at all from tuning in to this game. Steve Alford's team is a dangerous lurker in the MWC top four, with size and talent everywhere on the floor. That's exactly how we've described SDSU, as well, and this one's being played at the fantabulous Pit, so it should be a spectacle and a half.

Dayton at Xavier, 8:00 p.m. ET, CBS College Sports: The Musketeers were a Sweet 16 participant last season. The Flyers have a shiny NIT trophy on display. If this game was anywhere else but the Cintas Center, we might think more of Dayton's chances. Still, with the type of talent both teams have been able to recruit in recent seasons, this should be a very dynamic game. It's been a rough season for X as far as injuries go, which could be the great equalizer here.
Posted on: January 7, 2011 10:30 am
Edited on: January 7, 2011 10:45 am
 

Cleveland St. vs. Butler is game of the night

Posted by Eric Angevine

The Main Event

Friday is the night when mid-majors clash on television, and we have a doozy on tap for tonight. Cleveland State , currently 15-1 overall and 4-0 in conference, travels to historic Hinkle Fieldhouse with one goal in sight: to seize control of the Horizon League race.

Butler is 10-5 overall with an early conference loss to Milwaukee slotting them at 2-1 in league play. Public perception is leaning toward dismissing the national runners-up as legitimate NCAA contenders after a very uneven start to the season.

It's a statement game for both programs. Cleveland State wants to let the Horizon League and the world know that there's a new Sherriff in town. Butler wants to prove that they're still the law in this territory, even if there's a little tarnish on the badge.

Per kenpom.com, the Vikings have the most efficient defense in the league (92.6 adjusted defensive efficiency), but Butler comes in second at 94.5 . Offensively, the edge flip-flops, with Butler first and Cleveland State second. Looking a little bit closer, it's obvious that the Vikings are paced by backcourt players - they rarely turn the ball over and clamp down on opposing jump shooters with particular efficacy. They're not so great at snagging rebounds, however, and that's where the Bulldogs have a decided advantage. Matt Howard is a beast around the hoop, and he's starting to see significant help from 6-foot-11 sophomore Andrew Smith as well.

That's what's baffling about Butler's stumbles this season. They have the personnel, coaching and experience to avoid the pitfalls. They're just not putting it all together yet. If this team hits on all cylinders, there's no way they lose to the likes of Evansville and Milwaukee. No way.

Cleveland State definitely has the horses to challenge Butler, however. Norris Cole (above) is the team's go-to senior, and he's been through the wars, including the 2009 upset of Wake Forest that led the Vikings to the second round of the NCAA tournament that season. Cole has always been big for CSU, but this season he's been on fire, averaging 20.9 points per game. Even so, junior Travon Harmon is the reigning player of the week in the Horizon League  so Cole will have plenty of help.

Ronald Nored must slow Cole's roll in order for Butler to claim control of this game. Getting the ball inside to Howard and Smith will seal the deal. If that doesn't happen, the real panic can begin in Indianapolis.

Cleveland State will visit Butler at 7 p.m. tonight.

The Undercard

Rider (10-5) at Niagara (3-12). The MAAC used to belong to Siena. With Fran McCaffery off to coach Iowa this season, that's no longer a foregone conclusion. In a league that is severely offensively challenged, Rider is one of two teams (alongside Iona) that can put together a coherent scoring game as they showed in non-conference upsets of Southern Cal and La Salle. Niagara, quite frankly, is upside-down on the mortgage, with a low offensive number and a high defensive number. Bad news for them as they go up against a league title contender.

Rider will visit Niagara at 9 p.m. tonight.

Photo: AP
Posted on: January 4, 2011 3:26 pm
Edited on: January 4, 2011 3:33 pm
 

Butler may not make it back to the Big Dance

Posted by Eric Angevine

I differ (respectfully) with some other college hoops pundits. I don't think a team ceases to be a mid-major once it wins a few games in the NCAA tournament. Very few teams -- Gonzaga and Memphis leap to mind -- gain enough of a foothold on the national consciousness to keep casual fans interested year in and year out, and few can marshal the talent and money required to repeat their success. Read any national stories about George Mason recently? How about Davidson? Once national darlings, those programs have entered the province of long-term memory, while short-term memory holds on to the Big Six conferences as usual.

So, where does that leave Butler (9-4)? Butler has been a consistent winner over the past decade , making the NCAA tournament field seven times out of the Horizon League. In '03, '07 and '09, the Bulldogs failed to win the conference tournament but joined the field as At Large contenders, aided by RPI numbers of 76, 27 and 24, respectively.

Last night's 24-point loss to Wisconsin-Milwaukee leaves a great deal of doubt about Butler's ability to win the Horizon this year. The RPI is still top-notch, sitting at 18 right now, and nobody would ding the Bulldogs for losing to Duke on a "neutral" court or at Louisville, but the home loss to Evansville is looking more like a canary in a coal mine every day. Just last week, Butler looked great in beating Florida State and Washington State to win the Diamond Head Classic. Then the Seminoles dropped a stinker at Auburn and the Cougars lost their first two Pac-10 contests. Those good wins are losing value by the day, and the bad losses hang around.

Make no mistake, Milwaukee (8-7) has been a decent program, but the Panthers are hardly the toughest opponent Butler will face in the Horizon this season. Real danger lurks in the form of Cleveland State , a team that handled Milwaukee 82-59 on the way to a 4-0 record in the conference. Gary Parrish is right, the Vikes aren't poll-worthy just yet , but they have the most reliable defense in the Horizon, having held every opponent but West Virginia and Wisconsin-Green Bay below 70 this season. The Vikings won the auto-bid in 2009 and famously upset Wake Forest to move on to the second round. They'll get a shot at the national runners-up on Friday in Hinkle Fieldhouse.

Wright State, Valparaiso and Detroit are all 2-1 in the league right now, and must feel emboldened by the inconsistency of the conference bully. Most intriguing of those three may be Detroit , which is thriving under the auspices of the Ray McCallum father/son picnic. McCallum, Sr. has coached the Titans since 2008, and had a nice 20-win season in Butler's shadow last year. This season, however, his son, Ray, Jr. has joined the team as a freshman point guard. The kid is considered to be a future NBA player, and he has a decent supporting cast, so those meetings should be circled on Horizon-watchers' calendars as well.

Winning the regular season is a big deal in the Horizon, which awards a league tournament double-bye and home court advantage in the quarters and semifinals to the top two finishers from league play. The final game of the conference tourney is held on the home court of the top remaining seed. If Butler can't make it into that top two, they will have very little shot at winning the auto-bid. The team's performances in the non-conference season won't serve to bail them out this time.

Photo: US PRESSWIRE
Posted on: December 31, 2010 10:45 am
Edited on: December 31, 2010 9:24 pm
 

Mid-Major spotlight: Ten defensive powers

Posted by Eric Angevine

When we think about mid-major teams that have made an impact on the NCAA tournament, we often remember amazing, last minute shots from deep. Dramatic shots give us the skewed perception that offense leads to upsets, but no small school ever hung in a tournament game without playing some tough defense.

With a lot of help from kenpom.com, we can prove it.

Looking at the final adjusted defensive ratings from 2010 , Duke and Butler come out with nearly identical numbers. The Blue Devils were fourth nationally with a rating of 85.9, and the Bulldogs ended up fifth, coming in at 86.2. Operating from that baseline, the teams were competitive right up until the final buzzer.

The 2006 Final Four team from George Mason didn't crack the top ten in the overall defensive stats, but the Patriots were in the top 20 (alongside an impressive number of other mids in that eye-opening year), and balanced their defensive prowess with an efficient offense.

The Southern Illinois dynasty of the early part of the decade featured a black-and-blue defense that made opposing teams feel as if they'd fallen into a wood chipper.

If we assume that no mid can make it to the second weekend of the tournament without a comprehensive defensive effort, it stands to reason that this year's stoppers have tipped their hands after a non-conference schedule full of guarantee games against the Big Six teams.* I'll list each with kenpom's Adjusted Defensive rating in parentheses. For reference purposes, Ohio State leads the category with a stunning 81.0 mark.

1. UNLV (87.4)
2. Temple (87.5)
3. Central Florida (89.0)
4. Stephen F. Austin (89.1)
5. Brigham Young (89.4)
6. UTEP (90.4)
7. San Diego State (90.7)
8. Memphis (91.1)
9. Richmond (91.1)
10. Fairfield (91.6)

For the record, that's three Mountain West teams, three C-USA squads, two A-10 reps, one Southland and one MAAC apiece.

The Rebs top the list in spite of a rather undersized frontcourt, because the backcourt is so adept at creating chaos for ballhandlers. The team is third nationally in defensive turnover percentage and ranks in the top 20 for steal rate as well.

Casual observers will focus ad nauseum on the fact that Michael Jordan's son is an offensive star for the undefeated UCF Knights, but it's blocked shots and team defense that keeps them in the national top 25.

Now, on to the surprises. Stephen F. Austin is actually the nation's top team at creating turnovers and they've been elite-level at defending the perimeter as well. The caveat would be that they've scheduled four non-DI opponents this season, but kenpom's numbers are supposed to take account of schedule strength through some kind of mathemagical formula that I accept on faith.

Now, Fairfield. The Stags might make the Big Dance based on these defensive numbers, which might be good enough to win the MAAC's auto-bid, but it doesn't seem likely. The offense is as bad as the defense is good, in this case. Still, it's an intriguing number.

Two teams that fell just outside the arbitrary number of ten are worth keeping an eye on as well. Drexel (upsetters of Louisville) and Butler (you may have heard of them) are both sitting at 91.8, and those numbers are virtually guaranteed to go down into elite territory once Bruiser Flint and Brad Stevens unleash hell upon the CAA and Horizon League, respectively.

*There are plenty of people who will argue the definition of a mid-major with me, but until leagues like the Mountain West, A-10 and West Coast draw obsessive national attention even in a down year (like last season's Pac-10 did) they're not playing on the same field as the Big Six, so I'm including them here.


Posted on: December 26, 2010 12:29 am
Edited on: December 26, 2010 10:54 am
 

Big Picture: Butler 84 - Washington State 68

Posted by Eric Angevine

It's late, so I'll let Twitter do the analysis, via a couple of writers who follow their teams exclusively:

The lesson for the Cougs tonight? They are good, but not good enough to not bring their lunch pail. Butler showing them up.

@NussCoug of CougCenter.com
and, from the big dog himself: 
I like trophies. Merry Christmas Bulldogs! @ButlerMBB takes the #HADHC tourney championship def. Wash. St. See you on the 1st at Hinkle!

@ButlerBlue2
In case you wondered, Butler Blue II is the live-action mascot of the Bulldogs. His typing is surprisingly crisp, but you should see his penmanship. Really lovely, and I'm not just saying that because he's a canine.

The big picture here is simple: Butler's early struggles, including a baffling home loss to Evansville, seem to be a thing of the past. Washington State should be commended for upending a talented Baylor team to get to the final, but struggled to contain Butler's balanced attack, which featured nifty footwork inside from Matt Howard and 6-11 sophomore Andrew Smith, drive-and dish specials from Shelvin Mack and Ronald Nored, and dagger threes from Zach Hahn.

Early tune-ups are over. Butler is back.
Posted on: December 25, 2010 8:39 am
Edited on: December 25, 2010 8:41 am
 

Chestnuts Roasting on Open Flames

Posted by Eric Angevine

From the golden voices who brought you "Illini Got Run Over by a Reindeer" and "Domo Arigato Mr. Rob(ot)o Kreps", it's the UIC Flames with a delightful holiday rendition of "Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer".



Truly heartwarming.

Today is my first official day of work here at the Unblinking Eye, a decision that provoked responses like:

"Christmas day start? That's spicy." - my new boss

and

"(W)ho in their right mind starts work on Christmas Day? What kinda sweat shop are you running?! - guy who was asked to hook me up with email access before December 25th

Here's the skinny, though. There's college basketball today, so there's no way I'm leaving y'all hanging. I'll be back later today to make note of happenings at the Diamond Head Classic, which features three consolation games en route to an intriguing Washington State vs. Butler championship contest.

Our day looks like this:

2:00 pm ET - Utah Utes vs. San Diego Toreros

4:30 pm ET - Mississippi State
Fightin' Renardos vs. Hawai'i Rainbow Warriors (in their case, the term 'warrior' is figurative, fortunately)

7:30 pm ET - Florida State Seminoles vs. Baylor Bears

9:00 pm ET - Butler Bulldogs vs. Washington State Cougars

Have a happy holiday and enjoy the hoops with plenty of food and hot chocolate (doctor's orders).

 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com