Every game, LaVall Jordan’s Butler team looks more and more like the Butler teams coached by Brad Stevens several years ago. Those Stevens teams played suffocating defense but what many have forgotten is that they were also characterized by struggling offense. Chris Holtmann led the Bulldogs in a slightly different direction, but Jordan, who was once on Todd Lickliter’s Butler staff alongside Stevens, seems to be re-establishing Butler’s previous identiy.
Wednesday’s contest against Brown marked yet another stellar defensive performance by the Dawgs. Brown’s Desmond Cambridge, who is a legitimate star, was held to just 15 points on 5-of-16 shooting and Brown as a whole scored just 55 points. Butler’s defensive aim is not to create turnovers, but simply to wear the opponent down, forcing late shot clocks and desperate shots. The Bulldogs executed this strategy to perfection.
Butler jumped out to an early lead and was never threatened, despite another pedestrian offensive performance. Butler’s offensive struggles become more of a concern with each passing game, and the Bulldogs will be looking to transfer Jordan Tucker to give them a boost when his eligibility kicks in at the end of the semester.
Paul Jorgensen led Butler with 19 points and Kamar Baldwin and Henry Baddley chipped in 12 apiece. Baldwin and Aaron Thompson also had four assists each.
Butler next plays Northern Illinois on Saturday, December 8 @ 4:30 p.m. ET
Defense is a thing
At this point in the season, it’s safe to say that Butler’s defense is a thing. It has gotten better and better, and has been terrific over the last few games. LaVall Jordan has consistently talked about defense being his priority and that’s clearly the case. Butler’s defense should keep them in any game they will play this season.
Nothing new offensively
Nothing from this game gave Butler a reason to be more optimistic about its offense. The offense wasn’t horrible, but it wasn’t great, and the Bulldogs certainly didn’t take advantage of the much smaller Bears the way they could have. We’ve mentioned this before, but Butler either doesn’t trust its big men or doesn’t know how to scheme for them because there have been several games where Fowler and Brunk should perhaps have gotten more touches.
Butler is always tough at home, and that phenomenon seems to be repeating itself this year. The Bulldogs have yet to play a truly challenging opponent at home, but both of its losses have come away from Hinkle and they have cruised to victories at home. This will be something to watch going into Big East play as Hinkle Magic could tilt 50-50 matchups Butler’s way.