Ego Check

Discussion in 'Butler Basketball' started by The Peppers Drunk Limo, Jan 31, 2019.

  1. The Peppers Drunk Limo

    The Peppers Drunk Limo Active Member

    Butler is one of the best men's basketball programs of the last two decades. Our NCAA tournament record since 2001 is 22-12, which is remarkable for a school that has never received a regional seeding higher than #4. We're in the company of only a few small-conference schools to ascend rapidly and reach the big-time; this contextualizes teams like Xavier, which actually has been on a national stage via the A-10 for a while, and Wichita St., which is perhaps Butler's only comp since our back-to-back Final Four years.

    But there are aspects of the Butler program that distinguish it further. Wichita St. has inflated its season-by-season records by beating up on the MVC. Since 2010, Butler has jumped from the Horizon (a weaker league than the MVC) to the A-10 (Xavier's playground) to the Big East, which has legitimized itself as equal to a "Power Five" conference.

    Brad was not Butler's coach for any of these Big East years. The wunderkind who was responsible for our taking off took off himself -- to coach the Boston freaking Celtics, putting into perspective just how rarely lucky we were. Leading the program during the Big East years has been:

    Miller, who began a tumultuous and potentially perilous transition;

    Holt, who we mistook for manna and was a disc of putty to plug a dam;

    and LaVall, who is trying to keep the program afloat now that the pressure of adjusting to power-conference basketball naturally has caught up to us.

    This expectation that oh, we ought to go 22-8 like it's nothing because the Big East is "down" this year is silly. Let's complement our pre-season KenPom forecasts for a moment with reality. The motto that got Butler here was The Game Honors Toughness. The motto that keeps Butler here is The Game Honors Recruiting Phil Booth and Mikal Bridges and Omari Spellman and Jalen Brunson. It takes time to set up a consistent recruiting pipeline at the elite levels, and it's an opportunity Butler has never been afforded because of coaching turnover amid program growth. I don't know as much about the finances of our athletic department as other posters do, but it seems reasonable that growing the basketball budget too is not an instantaneous process.

    It's natural for sports fans to be impatient about their team's success. But good lord -- we're losing our minds here. Consider that:

    Ohio State is in freefall.

    IU has Romeo Langford and it seems not to matter.

    Xavier lost Chris Mack and is adjusting uncomfortably, accordingly.

    There are multiple pedigree schools in our conference that are still trying to match our modern success: the likes of St. John's and Georgetown.

    Shaka has never found his footing at Texas.

    You go on and on like this for a while and begin to understand that expecting crazy, sustained success to appear from the ether is delusional and once-in-a-generational, like what Tony Bennett is doing with UVA. And that is the implied expectation of this board -- granting that it may reflect the Butler fan base's opinion of the program the way Twitter represents the public's opinion of politics and culture. It's not that we're "losing perspective" here, which happens from time to time, in the throes of tough stretches of basketball. It's that the team lost control of the last six weeks, while we seem to have lost our gourds permanently.

    It's just as legitimate to argue that LaVall was a bad hire as it is to argue that the jury is very much still out on him. It's ridiculous to conclude that he was a bad hire. He needs to grow in the job. Perhaps he needs a better coaching staff. To fulfill our short-term expectations, he certainly would have needed better recruits.

    Butler's upperclassmen this century usually have been key contributors and leaders, but the ones this year play complementary and non-leadership roles. It's difficult to generate good offense against major-conference competition with a backcourt pair that cannot shoot. Jordan Tucker may be very good, very often, in short order -- but he's been seeing playing time since just the IU game. This team doesn't have a go-to scorer late in close games who can withstand or go through contact like Kelan, a key distinction from Kamar. This team doesn't have a unique match-up problem like Rosey, which is difficult for any coach to game-plan against. This team does have some good shooters -- but a pair like McDermott and Jorgs doesn't measure up against a pair like Rotnei and Kellen. The roster has some interesting pieces, even touted ones who have shown flashes like Joey and Tucker and (what's left of) David. It also isn't necessarily a top-half-of-the-Big-East, lead-pipe-lock for a tourney team.

    I say that, because it's beginning to wear how hard -- not critical, but just hard -- too many posters are on some of these players. Science hasn't changed: You're still not getting water from stone. It's a big disappointment that this team is 12-10 and seems destined for NIT ball, if even that. But this team also has a young coach not only trying to live up to expectations, but push them even further: a challenge for a program-builder, the type of person we thought we were spoiled to have twice in the last decade. And from what we can see publicly, that coach is putting his team's struggles all on himself and not selling out his players, unlike his counterpart 50 miles south. Of the two, I'd rather have the one who exercises accountability in public.

    I hope he gets to the point this year that he can design offense that fits the limitations of his roster, make more in-game adjustments, engender more consistent enthusiasm and engagement from his players. We don't have much choice but to give him the chance, and I don't know why anyone would voluntarily go on that journey acting like a brat instead of a hopeful passenger.
  2. BU_NeonHat

    BU_NeonHat Well-Known Member

    I'll drink to that.
    pappyball likes this.
  3. GoodDawgs

    GoodDawgs Member

  4. SnoopDawg

    SnoopDawg Well-Known Member

    Well written! This was the calming post that I needed.
  5. Red1972

    Red1972 Well-Known Member

    Possibly the best post I've read on this message board. A coach who takes responsibility, how unusual and better yet how refreshing.
  6. iluvsnow

    iluvsnow Active Member

    I certainly appreciate a reality check....I do. I have watched and loved college basketball for many, many decades. I have been in the inner circle of a great basketball program (Indiana State during the Bird years). One immutable tell of when a coach doesn't have it is when the players lose trust in themselves and the coaching staff. I believe this has happened with Butler.

    I am not a huge fan of Greg Doyel, Indy Star Sports writer, but I thought he was prescient in his write up from last night's game. His observation of the players emotions is far more important than the X's and O's. There IS a problem!

    (Open in Incognito window if you don't have paid access)

    Jordan may be a great guy...and from all appearances he is. However there are many fired coaches who were great guys...but didn't have the intangibles needed to produce success on the court.

    I live in Dayton, Ohio and have been a long time follower of Dayton basketball, too. I told many of my Indiana friends that IU hired the wrong coach in Archie Miller. I saw the same issues with Miller that I see in Jordan. Miller was successful at UD because he has an ability to recruit talent...and Dayton has a tremendous advantage over virtually every other A-10 program. He was/is deficient in the ability to "connect" with his players.

    I really hope I am wrong...but don't think so. Doyel captures the bottom line perfectly when he closed his article today with the following conclusion:

    "Butler is losing, and its coach is talking about a lack of effort and trust and discipline. Maybe, after all those improbable NCAA tournament runs, this was destined to happen. I mean … right? Nothing lasts forever. Not even the Butler Way".

    I hope it hasn't come to that.

    Attached Files:

  7. Hinkle Magic2

    Hinkle Magic2 Well-Known Member

    Good post.

    I'd argue that even Kelan Martin had Kamar Baldwin as the "Robin" to his "Batman" to help free up looks.

    Who does Kamar have next to him? Sophomore Jordan Tucker? McDermott?

    Opposing defenses can take away one guy. Matt Painter said last year when his Boilermakers faced Butler in the tourney that he needed to take away one of Martin or Baldwin. He took away Baldwin, who had like 12 points in Butler's loss.

    [Which makes me wonder why we couldn't do a better job on Howard defensively? But I'll save that for another day].

    Mack, Howard, and Hayward had each other.

    Jones and Dunham had one another. [with some Chrabascz]

    Martin had Baldwin. [with some Chrabascz]

    I don't think that Baldwin lacks the qualities or skill-set to be a go-to guy. I just think opposing defenses know he's our only real threat to consistently create his own shot and gameplan to stop him.

    That's a lot easier when there's no 'Robin' next to him to alleviate some of the pressure. When our shooters outside McDermott can't consistently shoot these days, and defenders don't have to defend Thompson on the perimeter.

    Not to say Baldwin is the caliber of these players, but Stockton needed Malone. Kobe needed Shaq. Even MJ needed Scottie Pippen.
  8. The Peppers Drunk Limo

    The Peppers Drunk Limo Active Member

    Agree with a lot of this. In fact it may be *because* Kamar doesn't have the combo of physical attributes and skill of past number-one options that life is so difficult for him without a sidekick. He's not going to get 8 to 10 free throws a game; he's not going to shoot a high percentage from three. His skills are slashing and finishing over people (as opposed to through them, to the point about foul shot attempts) and getting some creative looks from mid-range. When so many of the resulting looks he gets are low-quality and they come from low-percentage places on the floor (8 to 18 feet), his scoring output is bound to be low-efficiency.

    Glad you mentioned Chrabz -- he's actually the type of facilitator who would've made Kamar and so many other players on this team better. We lack that kind of key body on offense who pulls everyone into orbit.
    Hinkle Magic2 likes this.
  9. The Peppers Drunk Limo

    The Peppers Drunk Limo Active Member

    I think where we may disagree is that I'm looking at the intangibles stuff you cite as evidence of a short-term problem instead of proof of an unsolvable problem; at his grasp of the roster as a question of "has he lost the team?" instead of "has he lost the program?" I understand the criticism of his perceived deficiencies -- the X's and O's, his softness on the refs, his ability to both push and relate to players in the same 40 minutes. I share much of it. But if we go down the route of using a limited sample size of games to convict and push out a new coach, then all we do is perpetuate program instability.

    There's definitely a balance: You can't use "give him time" as an excuse indefinitely, because then you run the risk of negligence, of letting the program slide irrevocably when something could have been done to stabilize it. If we're 12-10 this time next year with the same issues, for example, then there's a problem. (I don't think we will be -- I think we'll be more like 15-7, which is a conversation for another thread.) But I think we have to err on the side of reserving judgment about LaVall more than most of us around here do. That restraint applies to the here and now.
  10. GoodDawgs

    GoodDawgs Member

    Remember that this roster was once set up to include Kyle Young...
  11. BUcheer

    BUcheer Well-Known Member VIP Member

    Thank you Peppers—I haven't read the Marquette thread yet as I knew it would be Armageddon. SO glad I read your post first as it perfectly lays out the current situation and puts it in perspective. We’ve grown spoiled and entitled as a fan base, so as much as some say the team has given up the Butler Way, as fans we’ve strayed even further. #MTIOTF
    godogs91 likes this.
  12. Red1972

    Red1972 Well-Known Member

    From where I watch the problem is no one knows their role. The shake up in the starting line up, bringing Tucker along, Jorgensen to the bench, Fowler to the bench and Baddley in
    and out of the starting lineup has really caused chemistry problems. I say go back to the original starting line up bring Brunk, Tucker, and Baddley off the bench. Let everyone settle
    into their original roles and see what happens. What have they got to lose.
  13. estar20dawg

    estar20dawg Well-Known Member

    Um cause David has arguably been our first or second best player over the past 3 games I want 30 minutes from him and Golden the rest of the year. Preferably playing Golden at the 4

    Sent from my SAMSUNG-SM-G930A using Butler Hoops mobile app
  14. ButlerNut

    ButlerNut Well-Known Member VIP Member

    I just want to see a whistle and there NOT be a substitution. Let guys play and get some time playing together.

    This isn't Nolan Richardson's "40 minutes of hell" team. Guys don't need subbed every whistle.

    Sorry for those of you not old enough to know the Nolan Richardson reference.

    Sent from my SM-G935V using Butler Hoops mobile app
    nindiana, pjohnsto2003 and godogs91 like this.
  15. ap234

    ap234 Active Member

    These are some good points. I do think however that Butler next season will be a top 25 team or close to it for most of the year. Mostly because I like next years roster makeup as of now a lot better than this years.
  16. Clevedog

    Clevedog Active Member

    Wow, I like your attitude and optimism, you must be young, I wish I was. I just can't see us any better next year with talent we have now and arriving next year. I hope you are right.
  17. Tiles52

    Tiles52 Active Member

    I don't know about being a top 25 team next, but I would hope that with the four coming in replacing Fowler and Jorgenson that we would be better. I am anxious to see what Nze brings and I hope that Battle will be a little more consistent than Jorgenson. I know many on this board are hoping that Michael-Mulloy is redshirted, but I'm not sure that we can afford that luzury. Hastings is obviously an unknown as to what he might be able to provide. But it all begins with the team getting back to playing "team" basketball. Too much dribbling and looking for your own shot versus quick passes.
  18. estar20dawg

    estar20dawg Well-Known Member

    The only thing I'm hopeful for is we'll be better on defense...Hastings is known as a really good defender. Thompson already is a really good defender. Nze is a pretty good defender and rebounder. David has taken a lot of leaps and is one of our best defenders, Baldwin at times has been good at defending. Mulloy has shown glimpses of being a pretty good defender and not afraid to mix it up and get physical, needs to work on not using his hands as much but he has the making of being a pretty solid defender. Battle is definitely athletic and lengthy enough is be a plus defender don't think it's there yet. Tucker is a good rebounded and think maybe having a year in playing will be at least an average to slightly above average defender. Baddley is really good at ball denial. So we have the makings to be a really good defensive team. We'll have way more size and athleticism next year. No offense to PJ who holds his own defensively but is not elite and at times having to defend other teams 3's and Fowler who does good work at preventative defense and positioning but isn't exactly mobile or athletic. Can we find a way to put the parts together into 1 cohesive unit. On paper the parts equal a top 25 in the nation defense. But will the parts equal to a whole team defense?
    Sidd Finch and Tentozen like this.
  19. Hinkle Magic2

    Hinkle Magic2 Well-Known Member

    I think we'll be able to redshirt Mulloy.

    Brunk-Golden-Nze seems like enough big bodies.
    Last edited: Feb 2, 2019
  20. ap234

    ap234 Active Member

    I am young and I might be a little biased having grown up with one of the players on the team. I look at the game and team more from a coaches perspective rather than a fan because I coach high school basketball but here is why I think next season will be better. The first thing I want to point out is next years roster as of right now.
    2019-2020 Roster
    F Joey Brunk 6'11 230
    F Bryce Golden 6'9 250
    F John Michael Malloy 6'9 195
    G/F Jordan Tucker 6'7 210
    F Bryce Nze 6'7 225
    F Markeese Hastings 6'7 190
    F Sean McDermott 6'6 195
    G/F Christian David 6'6 200
    G Khalif Battle 6'5 180
    G/F Henry Baddley 6'4 180
    G/F Jerald Gillens-Butler 6'4 230
    G Aaron Thompson 6'2 185
    G Kamar Baldwin 6'1 195
    WO G Campbell Donovan
    The thing that I see with the roster for next year is the size. There is a lot of length especially on the wings. There will also be depth and competition for playing time which should be a good thing. I also think that by next year Tucker will be the best player on the team. He is just different when he plays the game compared to the rest of the team. I also look for Battle to get minutes right away because he is a legitimate scoring two guard at 6'5. He is currently averaging 22 points a game in high school this year. JMM will help with depth and defensively as he is a very good defender and if nothing else will battle with Brunk, Golden, and Nze in practice. But the biggest thing is that Kamar needs to realize that he isn't superman and I think that will happen because I think the talent level as a whole is catching up and he isn't good enough to carry a team in big east when he is the focal point of defenses.
    bwesson15, jal8908 and pjohnsto2003 like this.

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