March 6, 2011

Bulldogs Face Milwaukee For Horizon League Title

TITLE TILT:  Butler will be bidding for a league-record seventh tournament crown and an automatic NCAA berth when it squares off against top-seeded Milwaukee in the title game of the 2011 Horizon League Men’s Basketball Championship on Tuesday, March 8.  The 9 p.m. (ET) game at Milwaukee’s U. S. Cellular Arena will be televised nationally on ESPN.  The Bulldogs (22-9), who earned the No. 2 seed in this year’s league tournament, advanced to the championship game for a league-record sixth consecutive year with a 76-68 victory over #3 seed Cleveland State in the tournament semifinals on Saturday (March 5).  The six straight trips to the title contest ties the mark set by former league member Xavier from 1986 to 1991.  The Bulldogs also extended their league record for Horizon League championship game appearances to 13.  Milwaukee (19-12) reached the championship game for the first time since 2006 with a 70-63 victory over #4 seed Valparaiso in the semifinals.  

Butler is in the league championship game for the 12th time in 15 years.

STREAKING BULLDOGS:  Butler has won its last eight games, all against Horizon League foes.  The eight-game winning streak is Butler’s longest of the season and it ties the fourth-longest streak under head coach Brad Stevens.

Butler owns the longest active winning streak in the Horizon League.

20 RUN:  Butler recorded its sixth consecutive 20-win season and its 13th 20-win ledger in the past 15 campaigns with a victory at UIC on Feb. 19.  The Horizon League record for most consecutive 20-win seasons is seven, set by the Bulldogs from 1996 to 2003.  Butler, coming off a school and league record 33-win campaign a year ago, has averaged 26.6 wins over the past six seasons and posted a winning percentage of .784.  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 (1996-2003 and 2006-2011)!

The Bulldogs have tied the 11th-highest win total (22) in school history.
 
LAST TIME OUT:  Butler led wire-to-wire, but needed some late heroics from senior Shawn Vanzant to hand Cleveland State a 76-68 setback in the Horizon League Tournament semifinals.  It was Butler’s third win over the Vikings this season.  Vanzant hit back-to-back three-point field goals in a span of 51 seconds late in the game to stretch a two-point, 60-58, Butler lead to eight points and give the Bulldogs some breathing room against the tenacious Vikings.  Cleveland State never got closer than four points the rest of the game.  Butler’s balanced attack, with four players scoring in double-figures, overcame the one-two Cleveland State punch of Horizon League Player of the Year Norris Cole (24 points) and Trevon Harmon (18 points).

FINISHING TOUCH:  Senior Shawn Vanzant scored all of his team-high 18 points in the final 13 minutes of Butler’s Horizon League semifinals’ win over Cleveland State.  The 6-1 guard hit a career-best four of five shots from beyond the three-point arc and added six of nine from the free throw line in the closing stretch.  He gave Butler its biggest lead of the second half, 58-48, with a free throw, and he tallied six points in the final 1:12 to help the Bulldogs hold on to the win.  His 18 points were a season-high and the second-highest total of his Butler career.

Shawn Vanzant scored a career-high 20 points against Milwaukee in 2009.

BALANCED EFFORT:  Senior Shawn Vanzant led four Butler players in double-figures with his 18-point performance.  Junior Shelvin Mack chipped in with 15 points, senior Matt Howard had 14 and sophomore Andrew Smith chipped in with 12.  It was the second time in the past three games and the 12th time this season that the Bulldogs had at least four players score in double-figures.

LONG DISTANCE OPERATORS:  Four different Butler players combined to hit nine three-point field goals against Cleveland State.  It was the tenth time this season that the Bulldogs connected on at least nine three-pointers in a game.  Senior Shawn Vanzant led the long-range assault with four three-pointers, while senior Shelvin Mack and sophomore Chase Stigall each added a pair.  Senior Matt Howard had Butler’s other field goal from beyond the arc.  Butler ranks second in the Horizon League in three-point field percentage (.361) and third in three-point field goals (7.5/game).

Butler hit just 11-39 (.282) three-pointers against Milwaukee this season.

BOARD ROOM:  Senior Matt Howard and sophomore Andrew Smith led Butler to a 38-29 rebounding advantage over Cleveland State.  The Bulldogs pulled down 14 offensive rebounds and had a 13-9 advantage in second chance points.  Howard and Smith both finished with eight rebounds to tie for game-high honors.  It was the third time in four games and the 22nd time overall that Butler out-rebounded its opponent.

SCORING STREAK:  Junior Shelvin Mack posted his 15th consecutive double-figures scoring performance with 15 points against Cleveland State.  He scored 12 points in the first half to help Butler take a 41-35 halftime lead.  During the Bulldogs’ past 15 games, the 6-3 guard has averaged 16.7 points and led the Bulldogs in scoring seven times.  Mack has averaged 17.0 points during Butler’s current eight-game winning streak.

Shelvin Mack has led Butler in scoring in five of the past eight games.

TOURNAMENT TIME:  Senior Matt Howard posted his sixth consecutive double-figures scoring performance in Horizon League Tournament play with his 14-point effort against Cleveland State,  The 6-8 Butler forward has averaged 16.7 points in those six tournament contests.

BANNER WIN:  Butler’s victory over Loyola in the final regular season game gave the Bulldogs a share of a league-record fifth consecutive regular season championship.  It was Butler’s tenth overall league regular season title, also a league record.  The Bulldogs have won nine Horizon League regular season championships in the past 12 years.  
 
FULL HOUSE:  Butler’s final regular season game against Loyola was sold out a week in advance.  The crowd of 10,000 boosted Butler’s season home attendance to 100,486, the third-highest regular season home attendance total on record.  The Bulldogs’ average home attendance of 7,178 was the best in the Horizon League this season and the highest total at Butler in at least 41 years.

COACHING SWITCH:  Butler head coach Brad Stevens left the bench at the Loyola game with just under four minutes remaining in the first half, because of problems he was experiencing with his vision.  He went to the locker room and then to the office of a local ophthalmologist to be examined.  In his absence, associate head coach Matthew Graves took over and helped lead the Bulldogs to the come-from-behind victory.  Stevens’ condition was diagnosed as corneal edema, and, after treatment, his vision was back to near-normal the following day.  The Loyola game was the first missed by Stevens in his four-year tenure as Butler’s head coach.   

ALL-LEAGUE:  Senior Matt Howard and junior Shelvin Mack both were honored on the 2010-11 Horizon League Men’s Basketball All-League Team.  Howard was named to the All-League squad for the fourth consecutive year and was tabbed first team All-League for the third successive season.  He’s the 12th player in league history and the second Butler player (behind Chad Tucker, 1985-88) to earn first team All-League honors three times.  Mack was named second team All-League, after being a first team pick in 2009-10.

ALL-DEFENSIVE:  Senior Matt Howard and junior Ronald Nored were named to the five-player Horizon League All-Defensive Team.  It was the second straight year on the team for Nored, who was league Co-Defensive Player of the Year in 2009-10, while Howard earned a spot on the defensive squad for the second time in three years.

QUICK START:  Butler head coach Brad Stevens has taken over the top spot on the NCAA Division I list for Best Career Starts By Wins, 4 seasons.  The Bulldogs’ coach, who boasts a four-year record of 111-24, climbed past previous four-year leader Everett Case of North Carolina State, who compiled a 107-22 record from 1947-50.  Stevens also holds the NCAA three-year record with 89 victories, and he’s second on the two-year list with 56 wins.

Brad Stevens already stands fifth on Butler’s all-time list for coaching wins.

BULLDOG BITS:

•Matt Howard has been named the 2010-11 Academic All-American of the Year.  Howard was named to the Capital One Academic All-America Team for a school-record third consecutive year.

•Matt Howard is one of 10 finalists for the Lowe’s Senior CLASS Award, presented for notable achievement in four areas of excellence - community, classroom, character and competition.

•Matt Howard has broken the record of former teammate A. J. Graves (2004-08) for most career starts at Butler with 126.  Howard has tied the Butler career record for games played (134), matching the number of former teammate Willie Veasley (2006-10).

•Matt Howard stands third on Butler’s all-time scoring list with 1,832 career points.  He’s also third on Butler’s all-time rebounding list with 837 career rebounds.  Howard is Butler’s all-time leader in free throws made (633).

•Matt Howard is the first player in Butler basketball history to score 1,500 career points and grab 800 career rebounds.

•Matt Howard ranks fourth in the Horizon League in both scoring (16.7) and rebounding (7.9).

•Matt Howard is second in the Horizon League in 3-point field goal shooting (.438).  He’s shooting .448 (30-67) from beyond the arc against league foes.

•Matt Howard has averaged 13.1 points in nine career games against Milwaukee.

•Junior Shelvin Mack stands in 15th place on Butler’s all-time scoring list with 1,391 career points.  He’s trails Jeff Blue (1961-64) in the No. 14 spot on the Bulldogs’ all-time chart by a single point.

•Shelvin Mack has moved into fourth place on Butler’s all-time list for three-point field goals with 191.  Butler Coordinator of Basketball Operations Darnell Archey is third on the all-time list with 217.

•Shelvin Mack is fourth in the Horizon League in three-point field goals (2.0).

•Shelvin Mack ranks fifth on Butler’s all-time assist chart with 338 career assists.  He’s also currently fifth in the Horizon League in assists/game (3.6).

•Shelvin Mack missed his final free throw attempt against Cleveland State, snapping a streak of 25 consecutive free throws made.  He ranks eighth in the Horizon League in FT% (.802).

•Shelvin Mack has been named to the Horizon League All-Tournament Team in each of his first two seasons at Butler.

•Senior Shawn Vanzant has posted six consecutive double-figures scoring performances for the first time in his Butler career.  He’s averaged 13.0 point over that six-game stretch.

•Shawn Vanzant has averaged 11.9 points over Butler’s eight-game winning streak.

•Shawn Vanzant is shooting .557 (34-61) over Butler’s last eight games.

•Senior Zach Hahn ranks 14th on Butler’s all-time list for 3-point field goals with 148, three behind LaVall Jordan (1997-01) in the No. 13 spot and four behind Darin Archbold (1988-92) in the No. 12 position.

•Junior Ronald Nored was one of four Butler players named to the Horizon League All-Tournament Team last year.

•Ronald Nored stands 11th on Butler’s all-time assist chart with 294 career assists.

•Sophomore Andrew Smith continues to lead the Horizon League in field goal shooting (.628).  He’s shooting .655 (76-116) against league foes.

•Andrew Smith has averaged 10.1 points and 7.6 rebounds during Butler’s current eight-game winning streak.

•Sophomore Chase Stigall matched his career-highs for rebounds (6) and minutes played (29) against Cleveland State.  He scored eight points against the Vikings.

•Freshman Khyle Marshall had his first career double-double with 14 points and a career-high 10 rebounds against Milwaukee at Hinkle Fieldhouse.

•The Bulldogs are 48-3 under head coach Brad Stevens when hitting nine or more three-pointers.

•Butler has won 28 of its last 29 games when yielding fewer than 60 points.