November 14, 2011

Butler Opens Home Slate Against Chattanooga

Butler vs. Chattanooga
Tuesday, Nov. 15 - Hinkle Fieldhouse
7 p.m.
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HOME START:  Butler, coming off a tough road loss, will try to get its first 2011-12 win when it hosts Chattanooga on Tuesday, Nov. 15.  The home-opener, slated for 7 p.m. (ET) at Hinkle Fieldhouse, is part of the five-team, Hoosier Classic tournament.  Butler has home games against Chattanooga, Savannah State (Nov. 21) and Gardner-Webb (Nov. 23) in the event, before closing the tournament at Indiana on Sunday, Nov. 27.  Chattanooga (0-1) dropped a 78-53 decision at Indiana on Sunday (Nov. 13) in the first round of the Hoosier Classic.  The Mocs led through much of the first half, but Indiana closed the opening period with an 11-0 run to take a 36-24 halftime lead.  The Hoosiers then put things away with a 25-9 run in the second half.  The Mocs tied for the Southern Conference North Division title a year ago, and head coach John Shulman returns four starters from that squad.  Senior forward Omar Wattad, who scored 24 points at Indiana on Sunday, has been named Player of the Year in the Southern Conference by several preseason publications.  The Bulldogs are trying to bounce back from an 80-77 loss in overtime at Evansville on Saturday (Nov. 12).  That setback was Butler’s first loss in a season-opener under head coach Brad Stevens and the program’s first since 2005.  The Bulldogs will continue their four-game homestand with a game against No. 9 Louisville on Saturday, Nov. 19.  That game at Hinkle Fieldhouse will tip at 2 p.m. (ET).           

Butler was 12-2 in Hinkle Fieldhouse in 2010-11.

FRENETIC FINISH:  Butler appeared to have won its season-opener at Evansville twice in the closing seconds, but ultimately the Bulldogs left the court with a three-point overtime loss.  Evansville, trailing 69-68, missed a final shot in the closing seconds and Butler looked to have survived as the ball bounced loose.  But the Bulldogs were called for a foul on the scramble for the loose ball with 0:00.9 left.  Evansville scoring leader Colt Ryan made one of two free throws to tie the game. Butler’s Emerson Kampen then threw a full-court pass to junior Andrew Smith, who turned and laid it in the basket as the final buzzer sounded.  The Bulldogs’ celebration was cut short, when the officials huddled and ruled that Smith was fouled with 0:00.2 left, before the shot.  The Butler center missed both free throw attempts, sending the game into overtime.
                      
FIRST LOOK:  Sophomore Chrishawn Hopkins was the lone Butler player making his first collegiate start when the Bulldogs took the floor at Evansville.  It didn’t take him long to establish his credentials.  The 6-1 guard, who sat out Butler’s two exhibition games after sustaining a concussion in practice, led the Bulldogs with a career-high 22 points and a career-high five assists.  The 22 points were just 10 shy of Hopkins’ entire season total from a year ago.  In addition to his points and assists, Hopkins recorded career-highs for field goals (8), field goal attempts (19), three-point field goals (3), three-point field goal attempts (8), rebounds (3) and minutes played (39).  Hopkins averaged less that six minutes per game in 21 outings a year ago.     

LEAD ROLE:  Junior Andrew Smith (right), who started 32 games for the Bulldogs a year ago, has established himself as a major presence in Butler’s first three outings this season.  He led Butler in scoring in both preseason exhibition games, and he turned in the second-highest scoring performance of his career in the Bulldogs’ season-opener at Evansville.  The 6-11 center scored 19 points in each of the Bulldogs’ two preseason contests, and then he opened the season with a 21-point performance at Evansville.  He hit six of eight shots from the floor, including a pair of three-point field goals and seven of 12 from the free throw line.  The Butler center led both teams with nine rebounds and a career-high four blocked shots in the game, and he added two assists and a steal.  His 21 points at Evansville were one shy of his career-high, set against Cleveland State last year.  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.    

SHORT BENCH:  Three Butler players were unavailable for the Bulldogs’ game at Evansville.  Head coach Brad Stevens announced prior to the game that freshmen Kameron Woods and Elliott Kampen would not play against the Aces for failure to “strive to meet the high expectations of the program.”  A third player, freshman Roosevelt Jones, sat out the game with an injury sustained prior to tip-off.  All three players are expected back for this week’s games at Hinkle Fieldhouse.

NEW SEASON:  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.

HOMECOMING:  Butler will play seven of its next eight games at Hinkle Fieldhouse, beginning with the Chattanooga contest.  The Bulldogs won their final four home games last season and have been successful in 27 of their past 29 home contests.  Butler is 56-5 at Hinkle Fieldhouse in four seasons under head coach Brad Stevens.

Butler has won 14 of 15 non-league games at home over the past three years.  

BULLDOG BITS:

•Senior Ronald Nored, who had four assists at Evansville, has moved into 10th place on Butler’s all-time assist chart.  Nored boosted his Butler career total to 308 assists, and moved ahead of Brandon Miller (305, 2000-03) on the all-time list.

Butler All-Time Assist Chart
    540    Thomas Jackson, 1998-2002
    471    Tim Bowen, 1989-93
    457    Jeff Rogers, 1994-98
    411    Darrin Fitzgerald, 1983-87
    357    Shelvin Mack, 2008-11
    323    Avery Sheets, 2002-06
    316    Mike Green, 2006-08
    316    A. J. Graves, 2004-08
    310    Mike Monserez, 2001-04
    308    Ronald Nored, 2008-

•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.

•Center Andrew Smith recorded his first collegiate three-point field goal in Butler’s game at Evansville.  Smith hit two of three attempts from beyond the three-point arc against the Aces.  He had just one three-point field goal attempt all of last year.

•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.

•Junior Chase Stigall had a career-high six rebounds at Evansville.  He played a career-high 35 minutes in the game.

•Freshman guard Jackson Aldridge came off the bench with seven points, three rebounds and three assists in 27 minutes at Evansville.  Aldridge, who played on the Australia team at last summer’s FIBA U19 World Championship, was playing in his first collegiate game.

•Evansville made 32 of 43 free throws against the Bulldogs, including 20 of 25 after intermission.  The 43 attempts were the most against the Bulldogs since last year’s road-opener at Louisville (43).  Butler hit 15 of 24 free throws against the Aces.

•The Bulldogs are 50-4 in regular season play under coach Brad Stevens when hitting nine or more three-pointers.  Butler hit eight three-pointer field goals at Evansville.

•Butler is 1-4 in its last five overtime games.  That one victory came against #15 Florida in the Elite Eight of last year’s NCAA Men’s Basketball Championship.

•Butler is one of just three NCAA Division I schools to win at least 25 games in each of the last five seasons.  The other two are Kansas and BYU.

•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.