Most college freshmen would be forgiven for showing some nerves when playing in front of an NBA coach. Elijah Brown has been doing it his whole life.
With Cleveland Cavaliers head coach Mike Brown in town for a night game against the Pacers, Elijah showed Butler fans once again that he's going to earn some serious playing time in his first collegiate season. Coming off the bench, Brown played a team-high 22 minutes in another everybody-in-the-pool affair-- all 15 healthy Bulldogs saw action.
Like the first exhibition game against Nova Southeastern, Butler scored with ease. The Bulldogs scored 93 on 53 percent shooting (7-15 from three-point range). You have to go back a while to find back-to-back 90 point efforts from a Butler basketball team. Last year, Brad Stevens' squad cracked 90 on just one occasion. With Brown and Kellen Dunham scoring at will against inferior opponents so far, the Brandon Miller era is a far cry from the glacial pace of past Butler teams.
One possible issue for Butler this year is on the glass. DePauw outrebounded the home team 32-31 and created a number of second chances with 15 offensive rebounds. With both teams shooting well from the floor, Butler put the game away by getting to the free throw line often and taking advantage of easy points there. The Bulldogs scored 30 from the foul line alone. Look for this to continue, at least early in the season, as teams adjust to the no-hand-check rule. The Tigers? They had their chances from the charity stripe as well, but finished an awful 9-for-27 for the game.
Alex Barlow started with Dunham in the backcourt once again, scoring 9 points with 3 steals and zero assists. Dunham impressed again with a team (and career) high 23 points. Elijah Brown scored 18. Even though his three-point shooting was a bit off (with the exception of a four-point point play), Brown showed some creative ability by getting to the basket a couple times too.
With Butler's three headed monster backcourt providing most of the offense, the Bulldog forwards had a bit of an understated performance. Khyle Marshall had 8 points and pulled down 3 boards. Kameron Woods and Erik Fromm both finished with 6 rebounds. Fromm was the biggest beneficiary of 27 team fouls for DePauw, shooting 7-of-10 from the foul line. Andrew Chrabascz and freshman Nolan Berry each scored 5 as well.
So what does this tell us about Butler this year? We won't know a lot until the schedule starts to heat up obviously, but the Bulldogs seem to be able to put the ball in the basket. Without the top three scorers from last year, you would be forgiven for expecting a big step back. Instead, after two of the most impressive raw offensive outputs in recent memory for the program, the Bulldogs look to bring some firepower to this season of change.
Today's distribution of minutes was a step closer to normality than against Nova, and Elijah Brown played as much as anybody. Look for him to continue to provide instant offense off the bench. Kellen Dunham has been impressive as well in a starting role. If both players continue to grow, Butler is a team that could score with anyone in the Big East. Defense and rebounding, longtime hallmarks of the Butler brand, remain a question mark as they now look forward to playing Division I opponents.