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Butler vs. St. John's analysis: The Bulldogs' Crossover Examination

The Butler Bulldogs went into New York City Saturday and come away with a win against the St. John's Red Storm. Robert O'Neill and Mike Murtaugh break down what went well and what went poorly for the Bulldogs on both sides of the ball.

Anthony Gruppuso-USA TODAY Sports


What Went Well

Kellen Dunham. I could leave it right there, but what fun would that be? A game after struggling to get anything going against Villanova (4-10, 10 PTS), the junior sharpshooter came back with a vengeance,  Dunham led Butler in scoring, by far, with 28 points on 8-16 shooting, including 6-7 from beyond the arc . He also went 6-8 from the free throw line, which was helpful down the stretch in the 73-69 contest. For the Bulldogs to consistently perform at a high level this season, Kellen Dunham will have to also perform at a high level

Roosevelt Jones also played a big role in Butler's offense on Saturday. He was on the court for 39 minutes, and tallied 14 points on 7-12 shooting. Jones, similar to Dunham, is a leader on this team, and the offense runs about as well as he's playing. Jones also led the Bulldogs in assists, with three, which may be something that should be in the What Went Poorly section instead.

The Bulldogs trailed 30-26 at the half. They came out in the second half and scored 47 points on 33 possessions for a PPP of 1.42. Anything over 1 is very good.

What Went Poorly

It's hard to find too many things the Bulldogs didn't do well, but I came up with two big ones. A lack of assists, and a lack of scoring depth.

Roosevelt Jones led the team in assists with three. The team, as a whole, had eight assists. They average 11.5 per game, which isn't very good either, 263rd in the country. Of course, Butler has a style of play in which they stop and pop instead of working the ball inside, but low assist numbers could still come back to hurt the Bulldogs eventually.

The only players that scored for the Bulldogs were the starting five. That's not great. It worked for them against St. John's because Kellen Dunham was hot, but when he couldn't get it going against Villanova, the team struggled because of their lack of additional scoring threats. That's something that Butler will have to work on going forward -- trying to develop a good sixth man.


What Went Well

Once again, the Bulldogs did a terrific job with pressuring their opponents on the perimeter, using their physicality to stifle shooters from getting clean looks. It also helped that St. John's doesn't exactly run much of an offense, which leads to a lot of possessions culminating in isolation jumpshots. Butler tends to feast on these types of offensive sets, and that helped them slow down players like D'Angelo Harrison and Phil Greene from deep. Both Harrison and Greene each hit two three's during the course of the game, but never got overly hot thanks to tight defense on the outside from the Bulldogs.

Butler was also terrific on the defensive boards, pulling down 80 percent of available rebounds on that end of the floor during the game, according to statistics from They won the defensive rebounding margin 24-20, led by Kameron Woods, who had ten rebounds total. The Bulldogs make it difficult for opposing teams to generate second-chance points, and while the Red Storm's Chris Obekpa did make things difficult on the offensive boards for Butler, they remained in control of the glass for most of the game.

While they weren't swatting away passes at an insanely high clip, the Bulldogs did force nine turnovers. Currently, the team boasts an 11.5 steal percentage on the year, which is calculated by the total number of steals a team has divided by their total number of defensive possessions, good enough for the 48th-highest mark in the nation. As a unit, Butler has established themselves as one of the best defensive teams around, and they rank 18th in defensive efficiency rating, giving up just 90 points per 100 possessions. Their performance against St. John's backed that up and more.

What Went Poorly

Per usual, the team didn't have too many defensive deficiencies, but if we're going to be honest, any time a team gives up over 30 points to an opposing player, there's going to be cause for concern. In this case, St. John's' D'Angelo Harrison dropped 31 on the Bulldogs, doing most of his damage at the rim. Some of this is due to Butler's lack of height in the post, and with 6-foot-7 Andrew Chrabascz serving as the team's de facto "center", they are undersized down low. Kameron Woods is a few inches taller, but doesn't have the strength to sit down low, and his long arms are better suited for defending on the perimeter, as he did late in the game on Harrison.

While Alex Barlow and Roosevelt Jones are both physical defenders on the perimeter, strength can't always contain a quick first step like Harrison's, and with no true rim protector to save the day, Harrison took advantage of clean looks at the rim. Harrison is one of, if not the best guard in the conference, with a true inside-out skillset. Butler struggled a bit to contain him, and he made them pay.