Through 2 games the Bulldogs are allowing opponents to shoot 55% from beyond the 3-point arc. That's not a recipe for success, but so far Butler is surviving it. They endured 60% 3-point shooting from Princeton today to escape with an 85-75 victory at Hinkle Fieldhouse. Kelan Martin led the Bulldogs with 20 points and 14 rebounds. Kamar Baldwin added 15 in a bounce back performance and freshman Aaron Thompson added an impressive 15 points as well. Tyler Wideman was the other Bulldog in double figures with 11.
What Depth Concerns?
Everyone knew about Martin, Baldwin, and Wideman coming into the season. The big question was depth. That looked like a pretty silly question today. Aaron Thompson played like he's been in college for years, scoring 15 points on 5-6 shooting while also grabbing 4 rebounds and dishing out a couple of assists to go with top notch defense. If the first few games are any indications, Thompson is going to be a 4 year star at Butler. McDermott chipped in 6 points and provided his usual bursts of energy. Baddley played well in his role and even stepped out and buried a 3-pointer. Coach Jordan only played 8 guys, but all 8 of them look like solid Big East players.
Bulldogs Dominate Paint
For the second consecutive game Butler dominated inside. Princeton was outscored 50-26 in the paint and didn't grab a single offensive rebound all game long. The Bulldogs once again scored at the rim by getting there off the bounce. Thompson, despite not being a threat to shoot the 3, has shown a top level ability to get into the lane and finish in traffic. His combination of speed, strength, and change of direction make it nearly impossible to stay in front of him.
Butler Needs Better Ball Movement
Butler is clearly more capable of attacking the rim 1 on 1 than they have been in quite a while, but that doesn't mean they should rely on that. They accumulated only 9 assists on 31 made field goals. It's hard to be critical of Kelan Martin after he scores 20 points on 8-14 shooting and grabs 14 boards, but the offense doesn't always flow well with him dominating the ball. It looked more crisp and the shot selection was better in the first half when Kelan was dishing out his 3 assists instead of taking more shots. The points per possession were nearly identical in each half, so it wasn't an issue tonight, but will that stay the same through the tougher part of the schedule?
Is Shooting A Concern?
After shooting 6-25 from 3 on opening night the Bulldogs only shot 5-16 from there tonight. That's a little surprising considering Butler has so many guys who are capable of shooting from deep. They do lack that elite 3-point weapon from long range though. It's impressive that they've pretty much performed as expected on the scoreboard so far despite the 3-point disadvantage being so lopsided. Once that evens out we could be seeing a pretty potent Butler team.
It only gets tougher from here. Butler travels to Maryland on Wednesday to take on a good Terrapins team as part of the Gavitt games. ButlerHoops.com won't have game coverage for that one but will be back at Hinkle on Saturday as the Bulldogs take on Furman.