RETURN GAME: For the second straight
year, Butler will open the men’s basketball season with a
BracketBusters rematch. The Bulldogs will kickoff the 2009-10
campaign at home against Davidson on Saturday, Nov. 14, at 2 p.m.
(ET) in Hinkle Fieldhouse. The two teams met last February in
Davidson, N.C., in the feature game of the 2009 BracketBusters
weekend, and the Bulldogs posted a 75-63 victory before a national
television audience on ESPN. This year’s meeting may
not have the same national profile, but it still figures to be one
of the top matchups of the opening weekend of college
basketball. Davidson boasts a pair of talented starters from
last year’s 27-8 club - 6-7 Steve Rossiter and 6-6 Will
Archambault. Both played in all 35 Davidson games last year,
helping the Wildcats to a third straight NCAA Tournament
appearance. Davidson head coach Bob McKillop has five other
players who saw action against the Bulldogs last year, including
his son, Brendan. Butler returns its entire squad from a year
ago, including Horizon League Player of the Year Matt Howard and
Horizon League Newcomer of the Year Gordon Hayward. The
Bulldogs posted a 26-6 record and made a third consecutive trip to
the NCAA Tournament. The home-opener will be Butler’s
lone appearance in Hinkle Fieldhouse until Dec. 5, when the
Bulldogs begin Horizon League play against
Butler and Davidson have each won 85 games over the past three seasons.
A LOOK BACK: Forward Matt Howard sparked a 10-0 run midway through the first half that gave Butler a 17-7 lead over host Davidson, and the Bulldogs remained in front for rest of the nationally-televised contest. Garrett Butcher broke a 7-7 tie with a layup, and Howard added eight straight points in the early run. The Bulldogs led 34-29 at halftime and then began the second half with a 10-3 run to stretch the lead back to double-digits. Davidson never got closer than 10 points in the final 17 minutes. Forward Gordon Hayward led the Bulldogs with 27 points, while Howard added 12. National scoring leader Stephan Curry paced the Wildcats with 20 points.
Butler had 15 assists on 24 field goals against Davidson last year.
SHOW STOPPER: Basketball fans who tuned into the Butler-Davidson game last year to watch scoring sensation Stephan Curry were treated to a prime time performance by Butler’s Gordon Hayward. Playing in his first BracketBusters competition, Hayward led all scorers with a career-high 27 points and all rebounders with nine. He hit six of 12 shots, including four of seven from beyond the three-point arc, and he added 11 of 12 attempts from the free throw line. The rangy Butler forward added two steals and a blocked shot in 32 minutes of action. Hayward scored 17 of his points after intermission.
Gordon Hayward’s 27 points at Davidson last year were the most by a Butler freshman since 2004, when A. J. Graves scored 29 points against Ball State.
FAMILIAR ROUTE: Davidson is making its first basketball visit to Hinkle Fieldhouse, but head coach Bob McKillop won’t have to go far to ask for directions. The Davidson football team was at Butler two weeks ago on Halloween for a Pioneer Football League game. The Bulldogs edged Davidson, 14-7, in that contest. While Butler and Davidson are in the same football conference, the schools’ overall programs are affiliated with different leagues, and the basketball teams are meeting for just the second time.
PRESEASON TUNEUP: Butler wrapped up its two-game exhibition slate with a 75-44 victory over Taylor on Nov. 7 in Hinkle Fieldhouse. The Bulldogs jumped to a 14-0 lead and stretched that margin to 38-18 by halftime. Butler head coach Brad Stevens was able to get a long look at each of his 14 healthy players, and 12 different Bulldogs wound up cracking the scoring column. Sophomore guard Shelvin Mack paced the Bulldogs with 12 points, while junior Matt Howard added 11 points and 10 rebounds. Sophomore Gordon Hayward chipped in with 10 points. Butler wound up hitting 28 of 56 (.500) shots in the victory over Taylor. The Bulldogs won their first exhibition game against DePauw, 77-45, behind 13 points from Mack, 11 from Hayward and 10 from freshman Andrew Smith.
Freshman Andrew Smith led the Bulldogs in minutes played (40) in the team’s two exhibition games.
POLLING DATA: The Bulldogs are ranked in the “Top 25” in both the Associated Press (A. P.) and ESPN/USA Today preseason national polls for the first time in school history. Butler was tabbed No. 10 in the initial ESPN/USA Today poll and No. 11 in the first A. P. poll. The Bulldogs were ranked in the “Top 25” for 12 consecutive weeks last season, and Butler has achieved a national ranking each year since 2006-07.
NO. 1: The Bulldogs topped the first CollegeInsider.com Mid-Major Top 25 poll, released Nov. 2. Butler received 28 first place votes in the poll to finish ahead of No. 2 Gonzaga and No. 3 Siena. Davidson was ranked No. 24 in the poll.
ALL-AMERICA: Butler was the lone school to have two players named first team Mid-Major All-America by CollegeHoops.net. Junior Matt Howard and sophomore Gordon Hayward were joined on the first team by Matt Bouldin of Gonzaga, Ryan Wittman of Cornell and Marqus Blakely of Vermont. Hayward was selected as the CollegeHoops.net Preseason Mid-Major Player of the Year. Howard also was named to the Mid-Major All-America Team by CollegeInsider.com.
FAST 50: Butler head coach Brad Stevens earned his 50th career coaching win in his 56th game. Only two coaches in major college history reached 50 wins faster. Doc Meanwell was 50-1 at Wisconsin (1911-15) and Bill Carmody won 50 of his first 55 games at Princeton (1996-98). Buck Freeman of St. John’s also won his 50th game in his 56th career outing. Butler’s next game is on Wednesday (Nov. 18) at Northwestern, coached by Carmody.
•Butler head coach Brad Stevens used the same starting lineup of senior Willie Veasley, juniors Matt Howard and Shawn Vanzant and sophomores Gordon Hayward and Shelvin Mack in both exhibition games. The two starts were the first of Vanzant’s Butler career. Sophomore Ronald Nored, who started all 32 games for the Bulldog last year, is coming off a stress fracture in his leg. He did play in both exhibition games. Veasley, Howard, Hayward and Mack each started all 32 games last season.
•Sophomores Shelvin Mack and Gordon Hayward were the lone Bulldogs to score in double-figures in each of the two Butler exhibition games. Mack had team-highs of 13 points against DePauw and 12 points against Taylor, while Hayward tallied 11 points against DePauw and 10 against Taylor. The two were Butler’s busiest players last summer, competing first for the gold medal-winning USA Team at the FIBA U19 World Championship in Auckland, New Zealand, and then playing with the Bulldogs on a four-game tour of Italy.
•Junior Matt Howard averaged a team-best 7.0 rebounds in the Bulldogs’ two exhibition contests. He had 10 rebounds against Taylor and four against DePauw.
•Matt Howard and junior Zach Hahn both hit five of six shots in the two Butler exhibition contests. Hahn’s performance was a bit more impressive - he attempted all six of his shots from beyond the three-point arc.
•Zach Hahn led the Bulldogs in three-point field goals with five during the exhibition season, while redshirt-freshman Chase Stigall came off the bench to hit three. Both players attended New Castle Chrysler High School, the school which produced three of Butler’s top four all-time three-point field goal shooters - No. 1 Bruce Horan, No. 3 Darnell Archey and No. 4 Brandon Miller.
•Freshman Andrew Smith had 10 points, six rebounds and three blocked shots in 21 minutes in his Butler debut against DePauw. The 6-11 center finished with seven points and three rebounds against Taylor.
•Ten different Butler players averaged at least 12.5 minutes against DePauw and Taylor. Andrew Smith played an average of 20 minutes in the two games, while Matt Howard and Gordon Hayward each averaged 19.5 minutes. Shelvin Mack and Ronald Nored each averaged 19.0 minutes.
•Butler out-scored DePauw and Taylor, 77-30, in the first half of the two exhibition games.
•Butler head coach Brad Stevens used the first day of the fall signing period to add three players to next year’s roster. Signing with the Bulldogs on Wednesday (Nov. 11) were 6-9 Erik Fromm of Bloomington (Ind.) South High School, 6-7 Khyle Marshall of Flanagan High School in Pembroke Pines, Fla., and 6-1 Chrishawn Hopkins of Manual High School in Indianapolis. Fromm averaged 10.3 points and 7.1 rebounds, while leading his high school team to a 26-0 record and a Class 4A state championship in Indiana. Marshall averaged 26 points and 12.5 rebounds, while earning All-State honors. Hopkins averaged 17.3 points in just seven games at Manual, after transferring from Las Vegas last year. The three complete Butler’s 2010-11 recruiting class.