It may be cold outside, but the nets at Hinke were on fire on Saturday. The Bulldogs shot 53% from 3 point range in a 95-68 thrashing of Northern Illinois in Butler's final game before finals week. Sean McDermott led all scores with 23 points while 4 other Dawgs scored in double figures (Jorgensen 16, Brunk 15, Baldwin 13, Baddley 11).
Good Shooting Helps
Everything looks better when the shots go in. After consecutive poor shooting performances the Bulldogs came out and scorched the nets, connecting on 7 of their first 8 3 pointers. They finished the game 17-32 from distance and 10-10 from the free throw line. Sean McDermott hit 6 triples in a half for the second time this season and finished with a game high 7 threes. These recent performances have been flukes though. Butler isn't as bad as they looked against St. Louis, and they aren't as good as they looked tonight. This is simply what happens when the shots are falling/not falling. As much as we like to overreact to each performance, it's important to keep in mind that these aren't going to happen often throughout the season.
A year ago Aaron Thompson was a defensive specialist who might as well have been invisible on the offensive end. Now Butler's best offense goes through him. When Thompson get's into the lane good things always seem to follow. He's doing a tremendous job of finishing inside and has become a terrific passer. It feels like he never makes a poor decision attacking the rim. Tonight he only took 2 shots for 4 points, but he triggered Butler's offensive explosion by dishing out 9 assists while turning it over only once. He also provided his usual stellar defense and drew a pair of charges. The consensus opinion has been that Butler needs another scorer to contend in the Big East. Maybe they don't need another scorer, but simply another playmaker. Aaron Thompson can be that guy. Bulldog fans should be ecstatic about getting to watch him for the next 3 seasons.
Bigs Are Back?
Butler's big simply haven't played well in recent games after a very strong start. The production was back today. Brunk and Fowler were each tremendous in their own way and combined for 19 points, 6 rebounds, and 7 assists. Butler's guards did a better job today of getting post touches out of the pick and roll to put the bigs in positions to have success. Brunk did most of his work from the block while Fowler had a lot of nice passes out of the high post. The offense all around looked much smoother and in sync than previous games, with all positions working together and playing off each other. This was an extremely encouraging game to take moving forward.