November 10, 2011

Butler Opens 2011-12 Campaign At Evansville

Butler at Evansville
Saturday, Nov. 12, 2 p.m. (CT)
Ford Center, Evansville, Ind.
Live Stats | Audio

OPENING TIP:  Butler will begin a new season in a new arena against an old foe when it visits Evansville on Saturday, Nov. 12.  The season-opener for both teams is scheduled to start at 2 p.m. (CT, 3 p.m. in Indianapolis) and will be televised in central Indiana on WNDY-TV.  The contest between longtime foes Butler and Evansville will be the first basketball game in the Ford Center in downtown Evansville.  The new arena replaces Robert Stadium, home to Evansville basketball for 55 years and the site of numerous Butler-Evansville basketball encounters.  The two Indiana squads will be meeting for the 117th time when they take the floor a the Ford Center.  The Bulldogs, coming off back-to-back appearances in the NCAA Division I national championship game, will be opening on the road for the third time in the five-year tenure of head coach Brad Stevens.  The Butler coach won his first game at Ball State in 2007-08, and the Bulldogs opened the 2008-09 season with a victory at Drake.  Butler, which lost a home game to Evansville a year ago, is coming off a 91-53 exhibition game victory over Franklin. Evansville defeated Illinois-Springfield, 74-61, in its last exhibition outing.  Butler will play its home-opener on Tuesday, Nov. 15, against Chattanooga.        

Butler has picked up wins in its last three visits to Evansville.

MIXED RESULTS:  Butler split two preseason exhibition games, dropping a 53-50 decision on a last-second shot to visiting Northern State before rebounding with a 91-53 homecourt victory over Franklin.  Northern State rallied from a nine-point deficit in the final five minutes of the contest and stunned the Bulldogs on Alex Thomas’ three-point field goal at the buzzer.  Three days later, the Bulldogs bolted to a 20-point half time lead, 45-25, over Franklin and then pulled away to the 38-point victory behind 62% (18-29) shooting in the final 20 minutes.
                      
TOP DOG:  Butler head coach Brad Stevens, beginning his fifth season at the Bulldogs’ helm, owns the top spot on the NCAA Division I list for Best Career Starts By Wins, 4 Seasons.  The Butler coach, who boasts a four-year 117-25 record, climbed past the 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.  

NEW YEAR:  The Bulldogs have just two seniors, Ronald Nored and Garrett Butcher, on this year’s squad and just five players who boast more than one season of experience.  Gone from last year’s 28-10 team, which won the Horizon League regular season and tournament championships and advanced to the national title game for a second straight year, are starters Matt Howard, Shelvin Mack and Shawn Vanzant, top reserve Zach Hahn and four-year letterwinners Grant Leiendecker and Alex Anglin.  Howard finished his career as Butler’s third all-time leading scorer and rebounder, while Mack was taken by the Washington Wizards in the second round of the NBA Draft.  The six departures accounted for 64% of Butler’s scoring and 48% of the squad’s rebounding a year ago.  This year’s squad features eight returning letterwinners and six freshmen.   

SOLID START:  Junior Andrew Smith, who started 32 games for the Bulldogs a year ago, led Butler in scoring in both preseason exhibition games.  The 6-11 center hit five of nine shots from the floor, including his first collegiate three-point field goal, and eight of 12 from the free throw line to lead the Bulldogs with 19 points against Northern State.  He also had an assist and three blocked shots in 30 minutes of action against the NCAA Division II foe. He then hit seven of nine shots from the field and four of four from the free throw line against Franklin for a second 19-point performance.  Smith was Butler’s third-leading scorer (8.5) and second-leading rebounder (5.6) last season.

Andrew Smith finished second in the Horizon League in field goal shooting (.593) in 2010-11.    

VETERAN BOOST:  Junior Chase Stigall (right), who started 13 of Butler’s final 15 games a year ago, was Butler’s second leading scorer during the exhibition slate with a 12.5 average.  The 6-3 guard scored nine points in the Bulldogs’ opener against Northern State and then came back with 14 points in 20 minutes against Franklin.  The 14 points were three points better than his regular season career-high set against Florida State last year.  Stigall, who shot 32% from three-point range a year ago, hit six of nine (67%) long-range shots in the two preseason contests!

Chase Stigall leads all current Bulldogs in career three-point field goals (43).  

TOUCH UP:  Butler’s shooting coach might want to put in for a raise.  The Bulldogs’ improvement from their first exhibition contest to their second was dramatic.  Butler shot just 32.7% (18-55) from the field, including just 16.7% (3-18) from beyond the three-point arc, in a three-point loss to Northern State.  The Bulldogs further hit just 11 of 21 (52.4%) attempts from the free throw line.  Three days later, the Bulldogs shot 53.3% (32-60) from the floor and 52.9% (9-17) from three-point range in a victory over Franklin.  Butler’s free throw shooting performance improved to 78.3% (18-23) in the second contest.

BENCH MARK:  After getting just six points off the bench against Northern State, Butler picked up 33 points from non-starters against Franklin.  Freshman Andrew Smeathers led the way with 11 points in 19 minutes of reserve action, while freshman Jackson Aldridge came off the bench with 10 points.  Butler’s first-year players accounted for 28 of the 33 reserve points.

BULLDOG BITS:

•Butler head coach Brad Stevens used the same starting lineup in Butler’s two exhibition games. Getting the nod in the two preseason tests were senior Ronald Nored, juniors Andrew Smith and Chase Stigall, sophomore Khyle Marshall and freshman Kameron Woods.  Ten different Bulldogs saw action in both contests.

•Senior Ronald Nored did not play in Butler’s game against Evansville at Hinkle Fieldhouse last year.  The Butler point-guard suffered a concussion one game earlier in the Bulldogs’ victory at Siena, and he sat out the game against the Aces.

•Butler’s Ronald Nored is one of 30 candidates nominated for the 2011-12 Lowe’s Senior CLASS Award.  The award is presented to one senior who has shown notable achievement in four areas of excellence - classroom, character, community and competition.  Former teammate Matt Howard was one of 10 finalists for the award a year ago.

•Ronald Nored has been named to the 25-player Lou Henson Preseason All-America Team.  The CollegeInsider.com team honors the top Mid-Major players in the nation. Nored joined Detroit’s Ray McCallum as the lone Horizon League players selected to this year’s preseason squad.  Butler’s Matt Howard was named the Lou Henson Player of the Year last season.

•Ronald Nored led the Bulldogs with six assists against Northern State and with eight assists against Franklin.  Nored is 11th on Butler’s all-time assist chart with 304 career assists, one shy of Brandon Miller (2000-03) in the No. 10 spot.

•Center Andrew Smith did not start against Evansville last year, but he came off the bench with eight points and five rebounds in 15 minutes of action.  He followed that performance by starting 32 of Butler’s next 33 games.

•Andrew Smith was the lone Butler player named to the preseason All-Horizon League team.  The 6-11 Butler center earned second team All-League recognition on the preseason squad chosen by league coaches, media an sports information directors.

•Sophomore Khyle Marshall, who played for the USA at the 2011 FIBA U19 World Championship last summer, had 14 points in Butler’s exhibition opener against Northern State.  He scored eight points in 14 minutes in the Bulldogs’ second contest against Franklin.

•Sophomore guard Chrishawn Hopkins, who suffered a concussion in practice prior to Butler’s game against Northern State, did not play in either of the Bulldogs’ exhibition contests.  Hopkins saw action in 21 Butler games as a freshman.  He’s expected to be available for Butler’s season-opener at Evansville.

•Freshmen Roosevelt Jones (8) and Kameron Woods (7) led the Bulldogs in rebounds against Franklin.

•The Bulldogs, who hit nine three-point field goals against Franklin, are 50-4 in regular season play under coach Brad Stevens when hitting nine or more three-pointers.

•Butler head coach Brad Stevens landed three recruits on the first day of the NCAA’s fall signing period.  Joining the Bulldogs’ 2012-13 freshman class were 6-5 Kellen Dunham of Pendleton Heights, 6-3 Devontae Morgan of Tampa, Fla., and 5-11 Chris Harrison-Docks of Okemos, Mich.  Dunham averaged 23.6 points and shot 43% from three-point range as a junior at Pendleton Heights High School, while Morgan averaged 17.3 points and 8.2 rebounds during his junior season at Tampa Prep.  Harrison-Docks averaged 23.0 points at Okemos High School.