Butler Hosts First-Time Foe IU-South Bend
HOME RUN: Butler, coming off a victory in its 2008-09 home-opener, will continue its four-game homestand when it hosts first-time foe IU-South Bend on Saturday, Nov. 22. The non-league game is slated for 2 p.m. (ET) at Hinkle Fieldhouse. The Bulldogs (2-0) defeated state rival Ball State, 64-55, on Wednesday (Nov. 19) to begin the current homestand. The win was Butler's eighth straight over an opponent from Indiana and 12th in the past 13 games against a team from the Hoosier state. IU-South Bend, an NAIA Division I program, is coming off a 17-15 campaign. The Titans opened this season with back-to-back victories, but have dropped their last six outings. Butler is one of two NCAA Division I foes on IU-South Bend's schedule this season. The Titans will return to Indiana on Dec. 2 to play IUPUI. Butler will close out its current homestand with a pair of games around Thanksgiving. The Bulldogs will host Big Ten foe Northwestern on Wednesday, Nov. 26, and state opponent Evansville on Saturday, Nov. 29.
Butler has won five straight games in Hinkle Fieldhouse, dating back to last year.
LAST TIME OUT: Butler improved to 2-0 on the young season with a nine-point win over Ball State. The Bulldogs, who trailed, 10-4, five minutes into the game, took control of the contest with a 24-6 scoring run midway through the first half. Five different players contributed to the offensive outburst, with freshman Garrett Butcher leading the way with nine points. Ball State did close to within two points, 31-29, at halftime, but the Bulldogs opened the second half with nine unanswered points to regain a comfortable margin. Ball State never got closer than eight points in the final 15 minutes, and Butler led by as many as 14 points in the final eight minutes.
DEFENSIVE ATTITUDE: Butler has held each of its first two opponents below 60 points. The Bulldogs opened the season with a 58-48 victory at Drake, before posting the 64-55 win over Ball State. A year ago, Butler held 18 opponents below 60 points, while rolling up a school-record 30 wins. The Bulldogs yielded an average of 55.9 points in Hinkle Fieldhouse last season.
Butler has led the Horizon League in team scoring defense for three straight years.
FAMILIAR LEADER: Sophomore Matt Howard topped the Bulldogs in scoring, rebounding and assists against Ball State. The 6-8 forward tallied 15 points, grabbed six rebounds and dished off three assists in 31 minutes of action against the Cardinals. He hit six of the seven shots that he attempted in the win. A year ago as a freshman, Howard led the Bulldogs in scoring in ten games, a mark matched only by senior teammate A. J. Graves who finished his career as Butler's third all-time leading scorer. Howard was Butler's leading rebounder 13 times.
Matt Howard has scored in double-figures in 27 of his first 36 collegiate games.
FRESH STROKE: Freshman Garrett Butcher admitted that he wasn't often called on to shoot from beyond the three-point arc during a high school career that saw him become the all-time leading scorer in Monroe County. But that didn't stop him from displaying his long-range prowess against Ball State. The 6-7 forward came off the bench and nailed three three-point field goals in a two-minute and 20-second stretch that helped the Bulldogs to a 28-16 lead in the first half. His first three-pointer at 8:56 of the first half was his first collegiate basket, and his three long-range baskets were just one shy of the entire Ball State team total.
LOOKING LONG: Six different Butler players combined to hit nine three-point field goals against Ball State. Freshman Garrett Butcher led the way with three long-range shots, while sophomore Grant Leiendecker added two. Junior Willie Veasley nailed his first collegiate three-pointer in the second half of the game, as did freshman Ronald Nored. Sophomore Shawn Vanzant and freshman Shelvin Mack each added a single three-pointer. Sophomore Zach Hahn, Butler's active leader in three-point field goals, was 0-1 from beyond the arc. Butler hit eight or more 3-pointers in 25 games a year ago.
Butler led the Horizon League in three-point field goals (9.38) last season.
HANDLE WITH CARE: After committing 16 turnovers in a season-opening win at Drake, the Bulldogs rebounded with a more Butler-like performance in their home-opener. The Bulldogs committed just six miscues against Ball State, including just two in the final 20 minutes. Butler has led the Horizon League in fewest turnovers per game for seven consecutive seasons, and the Bulldogs led the NCAA Division I in that category in 2006-07. Butler's season-low for turnovers a year ago was five in a victory at home over Milwaukee.
Butler ranked fourth in the NCAA Division I in fewest turnovers per game (10.4) in 2007-08.
LEGAL LARCENY: Freshman Shelvin Mack recorded a team-high three steals against Ball State, and the Bulldogs finished with nine thefts as a team. Sophomore Matt Howard and freshman Gordon Hayward each had a pair of steals, while sophomore Shawn Vanzant and freshman Garrett Butcher each had one. The Bulldogs had seven steals in their season-opening win at Drake.
QUICK LEARN: It took sophomore Grant Leiendecker more than two years to hit his first collegiate three-point field goal. The shot broke a 10-10 tie and gave Butler the lead for good against Ball State. Leiendecker, who sat out his first season at Butler with injury and then played sparingly last year, hit his second three-pointer less than 30 minutes later to help Butler maintain a double-digits lead in the second half against the Cardinals. Leiendecker set a school record for career three-point field goal shooting (165 of 347, .476) at Homestead High School.
HOME WORK: The Bulldogs were 14-1 in Hinkle Fieldhouse last season, with the lone setback coming to #16/18 Drake in the ESPNU BracketBusters game. Butler boasts wins in 43 of its last 47 contests at the Fieldhouse, including 15 of its last 18 non-league games. The Bulldogs are 111-15 (.881) at home since 1999-2000.
Butler is 46-4 in non-league games at Hinkle Fieldhouse since 1999-00.
BENCH STRENGTH: Head coach Brad Stevens has played 10 players in each of Butler's first two games, and the Bulldogs have had a 41-15 advantage in bench points in the two outings. Butler out-scored Ball State, 21-2, in bench points during the Bulldogs' home-opening victory.
ALL-AMERICA: Butler sophomore Matt Howard was named to the 25-player Preseason Mid-Major All-America Team by CollegeInsider.com. Also named to the preseason honor squad from the Horizon League were Josh Mayo of UIC and J'Nathan Bullock of Cleveland State. Howard further was named first team Mid-Major All-America by CollegeHoops.net. He was the lone Horizon League player selected first, second or third team. Last season, Howard was named to the CollegeInsider.com Freshman All-America Team.
EXHIBITION RE-RUN: Butler passed both of its preseason exhibition tests with victories at home over Marian, 61-31, and Oakland City, 91-52. Sophomore Matt Howard led the Bulldogs against Marian with 14 points and 11 rebounds, while freshman Shelvin Mack topped the squad against Oakland City with 16 points. Mack averaged a team-high 13.5 points in the two games.
•Forward Matt Howard is the lone Bulldog to score in double-figures in both Butler games this season. Howard tallied 12 points, all in the second half, at Drake and then was the only Butler player to reach double-figures with 15 points against Ball State.
•Matt Howard has four blocked shots in Butler's first two games. Howard has averaged better than one blocked shot a game over his young Butler career.
•Junior Willie Veasley leads the Bulldogs with six offensive rebounds after two games. The Bulldogs have recorded 11 offensive rebounds in each of their first two games.
•Sophomore Zach Hahn grabbed a career-high five rebounds in 19 minutes of reserve action against Ball State. All five rebounds were on the defensive glass.
•Freshman Gordon Hayward leads Butler's starters in points per minute played (0.5). Hayward has 20 points in 43 minutes.
•Nine of the ten players who have seen action in Butler's first two games have hit at least one three-point field goal this season. Only forward Matt Howard, who has one career three-point field goal attempt, has yet to cash a long-range field goal.
•Last season, Butler coach Brad Stevens became the third-youngest NCAA Division I coach to guide his team to 30 wins, and the youngest in more than half a century! The 32-year-old Stevens is one of just 11 Division I coaches to have recorded a 30-win season before age 40.
•Butler had the most wins of any Division I team in Indiana for the third straight year last season.
•Butler's .882 (30-4) winning percentage last year ranked fifth in Division I, topped only by the Final Four teams - Memphis (.950, 38-2), Kansas (.925, 37-3), North Carolina (.923, 36-3) and UCLA (.897, 35-4).
•Butler head coach Brad Stevens used
the first day of the NCAA Fall Signing Period to land local recruit
Andrew Smith of Covenant Christian High School. The 6-10 center
averaged 14.5 points, 10.6 rebounds and 2.8 blocked shots, while
shooting 63% from the field last year. He helped lead Covenant
Christian to a 15-7 record.