March 23, 2010

Bulldogs Make Fourth NCAA Sweet 16 Appearance

Butler-Syracuse Interview Video On CBS

SWEET RETURN:  For the third time in eight years and for the fourth time overall, Butler is returning to the “Sweet 16” of the NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball Championship.  The Bulldogs, seeded No. 5 in the West Region, earned their trip to Salt Lake City, Utah, with a first-round victory over #12 UTEP, 77-59, and a second-round win over #13 Murray State, 54-52, in San Jose, Calif.  Butler also reached the Sweet 16 in 2003, as a No. 12 seed, and in 2007, as a No. 5 seed.  Oklahoma ended Butler’s run in 2003 with a 65-54 decision in the round of 16, while eventual national champ Florida ousted Butler in 2007, 65-57.  The Bulldogs’ first Sweet 16 appearance came in 1962, when there were just 25 teams in the tournament.  Overall, Butler is making its tenth NCAA Tournament appearance, a record for current Horizon League members.    

Butler has seven wins in its last five trips to the NCAA Tournament (2003-10).

BONUS SEASON:  Butler has advanced to post-season tournament play for the 12th time in 14 years.  The Bulldogs earned bids to the NCAA Men’s Basketball Championship in 1997, 1998, 2000, 2001, 2003, 2007, 2008, 2009 and this season, and to the National Invitational Tournament (NIT) in 1999, 2002 and 2006.  Butler’s post-season record since 1997 is 12-11 (8-8 NCAA, 4-3 NIT).

VICTORY MARK:  The win over Murray State gave the Bulldogs victory No. 30, matching the school and Horizon League record set by Butler in 2007-08.  Both 30-win teams were coached by Brad Stevens.

TWENTY PLUS:  The Bulldogs boast a 20-win season for the fifth consecutive year and for the 12th time in the past 14 years.  Butler also won 20 regular season games for the fourth straight year and for the sixth time in school history.  The Bulldogs are the only team in Horizon League history to record five or more consecutive 20-win seasons, and they’ve done it twice (1997-2003, 2006-2010)!

The Bulldogs have won at least 26 games in four consecutive seasons.

RECORD RUN:  Butler’s 115 wins over the past four seasons have set a school and Horizon League record for most wins in four consecutive years.  The Bulldogs also own the Horizon League’s two-year (59, 2006-08) and three-year (86, 2007-10) records for wins.

POLLING DATA:  Butler climbed to No. 11 in the Associated Press (A.P.) national poll and to No. 8 in the  ESPN/USA Today “Top 25,” heading into the 2010 NCAA Men’s Basketball Championship.  The Bulldogs were ranked in both polls for the first seven weeks of the season and have been ranked in the ESPN/USA Today poll for 19 straight weeks.  Butler has been ranked in the “Top 25” each year since 2006-07.

The Bulldogs’ current ESPN/USA Today ranking matches Butler’s highest-ever national ranking.

LAST TIME OUT:  Sophomore guard Ronald Nored turned in big plays at both the offensive and defensive ends of the floor in the final 30 seconds to help lead Butler past Murray State, 54-52, in the second round of the NCAA Tournament in San Jose, Calif.  Nored broke a 50-50 tie with a lay-up and a free throw with 0:25 left on the clock, and then, with the Bulldogs hanging on to a two-point lead in the closing seconds, he joined teammate Gordon Hayward on a defensive double-team that stopped Murray State from getting off a potential game-winning shot.  Hayward knocked the ball into Butler’s backcourt and dove on it as time expired, sending Butler to the Sweet 16.  Butler appeared to take control of the game with a 9-0 run that put the Bulldogs on top, 46-38, midway through the second half.  But Murray State answered with its own 12-1 run to take a 50-47 lead with 2:48 left.                                        

The Bulldogs improved to 4-0 as the higher seed in NCAA Tournament play.

POINT PRODUCTION:  Sophomore Ronald Nored went 65 career games without leading Butler in scoring.  That streak ended in the second round of this year’s NCAA Tournament, when Nored tallied a game-high 15 points to lead the Bulldogs past Murray State.  The 6-0 point-guard hit six of nine shots against the Racers, including three of four in the second half.  His three-point play with 0:25 remaining gave the Bulldogs the lead for good, and boosted Butler to its third Sweet 16 trip in eight years.  Nored also led all players in the game with six assists.

Ronald Nored has had three of the top four scoring performances of his career in Butler’s last seven games.
   
COMEBACK TRAIL:  The Bulldogs overcame a 33-26 deficit in the second half against Murray State, matching their biggest second half comeback this season.  Butler also trailed by seven in the second half at Milwaukee, before winning.

Butler trailed at halftime in both of its NCAA Tournament games in San Jose.

RECORD APPEARANCE:  Senior Willie Veasley, who scored 10 points in Butler’s victory over Murray State, set a Butler record with his seventh NCAA Tournament game.  He had shared the previous Butler record for most NCAA Tournament games with Joel Cornette (2000-03) and Butler Coordinator of Basketball Operations Darnell Archey (2000-03).  Veasley, who had eight points and a team-high nine rebounds in the Bulldogs’ first round victory over UTEP, is the first Butler player to see action in four different NCAA Men’s Basketball Championships.

Willie Veasley has helped Butler to a school-record 115 wins in four seasons.

FIRST FIVE:  All five Butler starters recorded a double-figures scoring performance during the Bulldogs’ two games in San Jose, Calif.  Sophomores Shelvin Mack and Gordon Hayward both scored in twin-digits in both games.  Junior Matt Howard reached double-figures (11) against UTEP, while senior Willie Veasley (11) and sophomore Ronald Nored (15) each came up with twin-digits against Murray State.

LOOKING LONG:  Butler entered the NCAA Tournament averaging 6.8 three-point field goals per game.  The Bulldogs had not hit more than nine three-pointers in any of their previous 14 games, and they had just one game this season with more than nine three-pointers.  In the two games at HP Pavilion, Butler averaged 10 three-pointers, including a season-high 13 three-point field goals against UTEP.  The Bulldogs shot .392 (20-51) from three-point range in the two tournament games.

STEALTH BOMBER:  Butler, down by six points at halftime to No. 25 UTEP, needed someone to help turn the tide.  Sophomore Shelvin Mack answered the call.  The 6-3 guard opened the second half with back-to-back three-point field goals to tie the game, and that was just the beginning.  He went on to hit four more three-pointers, and he finished the game with seven threes in nine attempts.  His seven three-pointers were one shy of the Butler NCAA Tournament record shared by Darnell Archey (vs. Louisville, 2003) and Pete Campbell (vs. South Alabama, 2008).  Mack led all scorers in the game and matched his career high (set earlier this season against Milwaukee) with 25 points.  His seven three-pointers were a career-high, breaking his previous career mark of five set against UAB (2008) and Youngstown State (2010).

PERFECT FINISH:  With a win at Valparaiso in the final regular season game, Butler became just the fourth team in Horizon League history to finish with an unbeaten league record and the first to post an 18-0 mark!  Loyola was 5-0 in 1979-80, Xavier finished 14-0 in 1994-95 and Green Bay was 16-0 in 1995-96.  Butler’s six-game margin in the final standings was the largest in league history!

Butler is the only unbeaten conference champ in Division I this season.

TOP CHOICE:  Sophomore Gordon Hayward, who leads the Bulldogs in scoring (15.2) and rebounding (8.3), became the fourth Butler player in five seasons to be named Horizon League Player of the Year.  He follows teammate Matt Howard (2008-09), Mike Green (2007-08) and Brandon Polk (2005-06) as recipient of the league’s top individual honor.  Hayward is the seventh Butler player all-time to be named Horizon League Player of the Year.
   
LEAGUE FIRST:  Butler’s success during the regular season translated into three Bulldogs being named first team All-Horizon League.  Junior Matt Howard and sophomore Gordon Hayward each earned first team recognition for the second straight year, while sophomore Shelvin Mack captured his initial first team honor.  It was the first time one team had three players named to a five-player All-Horizon League first team.

BEST DEFENSE:  Sophomore Ronald Nored was named Horizon League Co-Defensive Player of the Year (with Detroit’s Woody Payne), and senior Willie Veasley joined him on the All-Defensive Team selected by league coaches.  The two have helped Butler to the No. 1 spot in the league in team scoring defense (60.0).

Butler had all five starters recognized on the All-League Team for the first time.    

GRAND EFFORT:  Junior Matt Howard became the 32nd Butler player to score 1,000 career points earlier this season.  His 14 points in the first two rounds of the NCAA Tournament boosted his career scoring total to 1,299 points, good for 18th place on Butler’s all-time scoring list.  He trails Ted Guzek (1954-58) in 17th place by 12 points, and Tom Bowman (1960-63) in 16th place by 35 points.

DOUBLE TIME:  Sophomore Gordon Hayward, who missed Butler’s final regular season game (the first of his career) with lower back pain, returned to the Bulldogs’ lineup in the Horizon League Tournament semifinals and finished with 10 points and 13 rebounds against Milwaukee.  It was his fifth consecutive double-double and the 15th double-double of his young Butler career.  The five consecutive double-doubles were the most by a Butler player since 1973-74, when Daryl Mason recorded six straight.  Hayward had eight points and four rebounds in the league championship game against Wright State.

Gordon Hayward leads the Horizon League with 12 double-doubles this season.

LEADING ROLE:  For the second straight year, Butler’s Brad Stevens was named Horizon League Coach of the Year.  The 33-year-old Stevens became the fifth coach in league history to capture the award in back-to-back years, following Pete Gillen of Xavier (1993-94), Barry Collier of Butler (1999-2000), Bruce Pearl of Milwaukee (2002-03) and Todd Lickliter of Butler (2006-07).  

FAST START:  Butler head coach Brad Stevens holds the No. 1 spot on the NCAA Division I list for Best Career Starts By Wins, 3 Seasons.  Stevens has 86 wins in his young career, two better than the previous record held by Mark Fox (Nevada) and Mark Few (Gonzaga).  The Butler coach boasts an .860 winning percentage.

Brad Stevens stands fifth all-time in Division I in three-year winning pct.

ALL-DISTRICT:  Butler had three players named to the National Association of Basketball Coaches All-District 12 Team.  Sophomores Gordon Hayward and Shelvin Mack were selected first team on the coaches’ honor squad, while junior Matt Howard was picked second team.  The Bulldogs were the only team to have three players named to the All-District 12 squad.  Howard was a first team All-District 12 player a year ago, while Hayward was a second team pick.  Earlier, Butler coach Brad Stevens was named NABC All-District 12 Coach of the Year, while Hayward was chosen to the All-District V team by the USBWA.

FIRST DEFENSE:  The Bulldogs, who lead the Horizon League in team scoring defense (59.8), have held nine of their last ten foes below 60 points.  Butler is 17-0 this season when holding its opponent below 60 points.

BULLDOG BITS:  

•Butler is the only school in the Horizon League to have won four consecutive regular season championships, and the Bulldogs have done it twice (2000-03, 2007-10).

•Butler was unbeaten in the months of January and February for the first time in school history.

•Matt Howard stands in second place on Butler’s all-time list for free throws made with 476.  He’s one free throw shy of the school record (477) set by Bobby Plump, 1954-58.

•Matt Howard is in seventh place on Butler’s single season list for free throws made with 164.  He needs seven free throws to tie Billy Shepherd (1970-71) in the No. 6 spot.

•Matt Howard is shooting .535 (84-157) from the field and .802 (101-126) from the free throw line during Butler’s current 22-game winning streak.

•Matt Howard leads the Horizon League in free throws made with 164, while teammate Gordon Hayward is second with 154.  Hayward is sixth in the league in free throw percentage (.819), while Howard is ninth (.804).

•Gordon Hayward stands third on Butler’s all-time list for sophomore scoring with 502 points, while Shelvin Mack has moved into the No. 4 spot with 480 points.  Both players passed teammate Matt Howard (475) on the all-time list.

•Gordon Hayward has averaged a team-best 14.2 points during the squad’s current 22-game winning streak.  He’s shot .495 from the field and scored 20 or more points four times during the streak.  Hayward also has topped the team in rebounding (7.8) during the streak.

•Gordon Hayward ranks fifth in the Horizon League in scoring (15.2) and third in  rebounding (8.3).  He’s the lone player in the league to rank in the “Top 5” in both scoring and rebounding.

•Butler is 25-4 when Shelvin Mack scores at least 14 points in a game, and 17-1 when he leads the team in scoring.

•Butler boasts three of the top seven players in field goal percentage in the Horizon League.  Senior Willie Veasley ranks fourth (.496), junior Matt Howard is fifth (.496) and sophomore Gordon Hayward is seventh (.471).  Sophomore Shelvin Mack ranks 12th (.465).

•Junior Willie Veasley has scored in double-figures in seven of his last nine games.  He’s averaged 11.6 points in the five games since missing the Siena contest with a sprained left knee.

•Willie Veasley was named to the 11th Annual All-Glue Team, selected by Seth Davis (SI.com), recognizing players who “do everything to win.”  The other four players chosen were David Lighty of Ohio State, Chris Kramer of Purdue, Reggie Redding of Villanova and Rick Jackson of Syracuse.

•Sophomore Ronald Nored, who had nine assists in Butler’s two NCAA Tournament games in San Jose, has averaged 4.3 assists/game during Butler’s 22-game winning streak.  Nored ranks second in the Horizon League in assist/turnover ratio (1.9) and seventh in assists (3.7).

•Ronald Nored is tied for seventh in the Horizon League in steals (1.6).  Nored had two steals against UTEP and one against Murray State in the first and second rounds of this year’s NCAA Tournament.

•Ronald Nored has moved into 14th place on Butler’s single season chart for assists with 125.  He’s one assist behind Tom Orner (1978-79) in 13th place, two behind Tim Bowen (1991-92) in 12th place and six behind Travis Trice (1993-94) in 11th place.  Nored needs 12 assists to tie Thomas Jackson (2000-01) in 10th place on the single season list.

•Junior Zach Hahn, who hit four of eight three-point field goal attempts in Butler’s two games in San Jose, leads the Horizon League in three-point field goal shooting (.439).  Hahn has shot .474 (36-76) from the three-point arc during Butler’s 22-game winning streak.

•Butler has won its last 23 games when hitting at least nine three-point field goals.  The Bulldogs, who hit nine three-pointers against Wright State in the league championship title game, are 40-1 under head coach Brad Stevens when hitting nine or more three-pointers in a game.

•The Bulldogs are tied for sixth in the NCAA Division I in won-lost percentage (.875).  Butler is tied for seventh in the nation in total wins (28).