Pregame Glance: Butler

Pregame Glance: Butler

zz The Buckeye Battlecry

Pregame Glance: Butler

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It’s that time again. Now that finals are over Buckeye Basketball can renew in earnest. The next opponent is the #20 Butler Bulldogs (6-3). While they’re not having the most impressive season thus far, they’ve only lost to ranked teams and all of those losses were by single digits. Lets get to it.

Bulldogs...very original.  Is his name Uga?

Bulldogs...very original. Is his name Uga?

School: Butler
Location: Indianapolis, Indiana
Founded: 1855
Student Population: 4,437
School Type: Private
Division: Division 1
Conference: Horizon League
Stadium: Hinkle Fieldhouse
Seating: 11,043
Built: 1928 (renovated in 1989)
Head Coach: Brad Stevens
Year: 3rd

A brief word about the Buckeyes. We all know that this team is going to be without Evan Turner at least until early February. The question on everyone’s minds is how will the team as a whole respond to his loss. Last year, with a team comprised of precisely 0 leaders (everyone who saw game time had at most 1 full year of experience with the team) after Lighty’s injury they played hard until they ran into West Virginia. At that point the team played to the level of their experience and talent. By sheer talent they willed themselves into the tournament.

This time, while the injury is to one of the leaders on the court, we still have the unquestioned leader in David Lighty. Also, with extra experience the vast majority of the team is more mature and having faced this exact problem last year know how to handle themselves. While the loss of Turner is painful, I think the Buckeyes will respond quite well, as other players will step up to fill his production. We won’t have one guy standing out every game (other than Diebler…oh my god Jon Diebler…), but we’ll have a number of guys putting up reasonable statistics.

PJ Hill needs to be on fire for the next 8 weeks. He is now the man at point guard and has limited backup. I have a feeling that he’s going to get weary playing the number of minutes he’s going to have in the next few weeks and it might cost us a game. We’ll have to see what kind of a plan Matta has in place at the PG spot.

Ok, so that wasn’t so brief. Lets get to chatting about the Bulldogs.

Butler GM MIN PTS REB AST TO STL BLK PF FG% FT% 3P%
Gordon Hayward

9

32.3

16.3

8.2

2

2.4

1.2

0.9

2.4

0.423

0.864

0.292

Shelvin Mack

9

30

14.8

4

3.3

2.6

1.1

0.2

1.8

0.45

0.774

0.388

Matt Howard

9

23.9

11.6

5.1

0.3

2.2

1.2

0.7

4

0.436

0.818

0.286

Willie Veasley

9

28.4

8.2

3

1.4

1.9

1.4

0

2.2

0.421

0.63

0.29

Ronald Nored

9

25.8

2.8

1.9

2.4

1.3

2

0

2.3

0.29

0.462

0.125

Ohio State GM MIN PTS REB AST TO STL BLK PF FG% FT% 3P%
P.J. Hill

7

15.4

5

1.4

1.6

0.4

1

0

1.1

0.44

0.889

0.333

Jon Diebler

8

32.6

17.1

2.9

2.6

0.9

1

0.1

1

0.506

0.909

0.522

David Lighty

8

31.6

11.9

5.3

3

2.3

2.3

0.6

2.1

0.507

0.5

0.346

William Buford

8

25.1

11.1

3.1

3.3

1

1

0

1.4

0.356

0.684

0.343

Dallas Lauderdale

7

21.7

6.9

4.6

0.4

0.6

0.7

3.4

2.1

0.9

0.444

0

The Bulldogs, not surprisingly, play a style of Basketball that has become familiar in Columbus. Butler prefers to run a 3 or 4 guard rotation with the last spot or two given to a prototypical power forward with 6-8 to 6-10 height. This is precisely the kind of offense the Buckeyes have been running this season and the last, with no 7-footers appearing to take a solid lead down low. It’s a fast-paced style team that likes to get the ball down the court and make things happen in transition.

The Buckeyes faced this Butler team last year and escaped with a close 3 point victory 54-51 in Columbus. If the Buckeyes had not lost Evan Turner, the lineups for this game tomorrow would be precisely *indentical* to last year’s matchup. Neither team graduated anyone of note, and the game will likely be a great rematch.

The thing that kept the game close last year was the three point shooting. Ohio State simply could not stop the hot hand of Starting Guard/Forward Gordon Hayward (6-8, 200) who shot 7-11 from beyond the arc. The Buckeyes had absolutely no answer for that shooting, hitting a mere 4 three pointers on 14 attempts. This year will be a little different as Hayward, now a Sophomore, still likes to take ’em, but hasn’t been hitting with near the frequency he did last year. I wouldn’t be surprised if that suddenly changed against the Buckeyes, since it seems like Ohio State is the team that gets good shooters going crazy. Hayward’s height coupled with his outside shooting ability make him a difficult matchup for the Bucks. This would be a great time to get Nikola Kecman some more minutes on the floor (hint hint…).

Starting down low for the Bulldogs is Junior Forward Matt Howard (6-8, 230). He has been known to jack a three-pointer now and then (and even hit it about 30% of the time) but his game is primarily in the paint. He has turnover and foul troubles, so he can be forced to make mistakes. Expect the Buckeyes to try to drive the ball at him a few times with Lighty to try to force a couple blocking fouls. One thing you don’t want to do, however, is let him get to the line. He’s hitting 81.8% from the charity stripe – sick for a big-man.

The oldest player on the team is Senior Guard/Forward Willie Veasley (6-3, 204). He plays good minutes and gives his team decent production on the floor. His primary role is most likely that of a leader and defensive specialist, much like David Lighty. He’s not going to explode on the scorer’s table, but he will make things difficult for you in other ways, so the Buckeyes will have to play away from him.

The last two starters are Sophomore Guards Ronald Nored (6-0, 178) and Shelvin Mack (6-3, 214). Nored plays the point for the Bulldogs and doesn’t make much of a mark on paper. He’s averaging only about 3 points per game but does create more assists and steals than he does turnovers so he makes his mark on the floor. Shelvin Mack is a shooting guard in the fullest sense. He’s not afraid to take the shot if he’s got the ball – he’s taken the most shots on the Bulldog’s team with an even 100 – and it’ll go down with regular frequency (45% of the time). He’s not a hot hand from the three, but he’s the hottest among the starters with a 38.8% average for the year.

Only three other players are worthy of mention, and one of them only as someone to keep your eyes on. The two bench players who see the most time are Junior Guards Shawn Vanzant (6-1, 171) and Zach Hahn (6-1, 170). Neither one produces much, but both see regular time on the court while subbing in for the starting guards. The last is Senior Forward Avery Jukes (6-8, 217). He doesn’t often see the court, averaging 11 minutes on the season, but only 10 in the last 3 games. In fact he only played 6 against Georgetown. The reason I mention him is that he averages a hot 50% from the three point line. He’s only taken 10 of them so far this season, but it’s a literal coinflip if it’s going to go down. Keep an eye on him because if he suddenly gets hot, the Buckeyes could be in trouble.

Even without Turner, I see this game going the Buckeyes way. The improvement of the three point shooting, primarily from Diebler and Simmons, has made for a huge turnaround from last season and it’s unlikely that Butler will have the sort of shooting success they did last year against the Buckeyes. If, however, Butler gets their shooting going, this could turn ugly very very quickly. Ohio State needs to stay focused and hit the shots they’re given. The game may hinge on whether Buford has emerged from his slump – and I have every confidence in his skill as a shooter. No pressure, but the Buckeyes will need Buford to step up big with Turner out of commission.

You can see the game at noon tomorrow (Saturday, December 12th) on ESPN. The game is being played in Hinkle Fieldhouse in Indianapolis.

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