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Providence vs. Butler analysis: The Bulldogs' Crossover Examination

Butler dropped their conference home opener to Providence Wednesday night. Robert O'Neill and Mike Murtaugh take a closer look at what led to a rare home loss for the Bulldogs.

Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

Offense

What Went Well

  • Alex Barlow once again had a terrific game for the Bulldogs, dropping 13 points while hitting both of his attempts on 2-point field goals and going 2-for5 from 3-point territory. The senior guard was also very key in generating a lot of transition opportunities, ripping seven steals during Providence's offensive possessions. Barlow's involvement is key to Butler's spacing, especially since freshman guard Kelan Martin has gone a bit quiet over the last few games. According to kenpom.com, he posted an absurd offensive rating of a 172 (as a refresher, anything in the 110-120 range is a terrific game), but still has the team's lowest usage rate when he's on the floor. It looks like it may be time to get Barlow more involved offensively.
  • I could write more here about how the Bulldogs dominated once again (ugh) on the offensive boards, grabbing 15 offensive rebounds, but it's starting to feel like that is to be expected pretty much every game now. The fact of the matter is that Butler needs to be grabbing heavy amounts of offensive rebounds, giving the team more possessions when they're shooting such a low field goal percentage. Speaking of which...

What Went Poorly

  • If you're looking for the quickest reason for why Butler lost this game in the final minutes, start with the team's shooting percentage. The Bulldogs shot a dismal 34 percent on 2-point shots and 31 percent on 3-pointers, and it's difficult to win games with such low efficiency. The main culprit is junior forward Roosevelt Jones, who made just five of his 18 (!!!) attempts during the game. This number especially stands out considering Jones only shoots from within eight feet of the basket, and his 18 attempts is over double the shots that any of his teammates took throughout the game.
  • When your highest-volume shooter is hitting at such a low rate, it can sink your team. I'm not saying Butler needs to do anything drastic with Jones, but it seems like it might be time to hand lead ballhandling duties back over to Alex Barlow.
  • Andrew Chrabascz struggled once again, despite getting touches down low and on the perimeter, and went 0-for-6 from the field. The sophomore seemed to struggle a bit with the Friars' bigs, but he also doesn't have a ton of space to operate considering Jones and Kameron Woods' inability to score from outside the post. Kellen Dunham had a team-high 18 points again, but is taking a lot of pressure from opposing defenders for the same reason. Butler needs a high-efficiency sidekick for Dunham, but it's starting to become a real struggle for the team score, especially near the end of games.

Defense

What Went Well?

  • Surprisingly, the Bulldogs did a lot of good things on defense, their issue in this game, as Mike highlighted above was on the offensive side of the ball.
  • It starts, obviously, with Alex Barlow. He had SEVEN steals and was a big factor in the Bulldogs winning the turnover battle by a 15-8 margin.
  • The Bulldogs also were able to hold the Friars to shooting 4-of-13 from beyond the arc, which, obviously, isn't FULLY indicative of their defense, but also indicative of Providence's shots just not falling, but some of the misses are a result of good defense and close outs.

What Went Poorly?

  • Rebounding. The Bulldogs grabbed 17 defensive rebounds, and they allowed 11 offensive rebounds. Both of those are very troubling. It's great that the Bulldogs are grabbing a lot of offensive rebounds (10+ in their last three games), but their rebound numbers are getting skewed as a result, because they really don't rebound defensively. Butler isn't a very good defensive rebounding team outside of Kameron Woods, and that's an issue.
  • Blocking: Butler only managed two blocked shots against the Friars, both by Kameron Woods. That doesn't sound bad, off the bat, but consider the following. If Butler had two blocks per game for the entire season, they'd be tied for 324th in the NCAA with Denver. There are 351 teams. Butler's overall pace this year is 2.9 blocks per game which is 249th in the country. They're not a good shot blocking team, and it can really come back and hurt them in close games like this.