Rushed Reactions: Butler 88, #1 Indiana 86 (OT)Posted by WCarey on December 15th, 2012
Walker Carey is an RTC correspondent. He filed some quick thoughts from this afternoon’s showdown between Indiana and Butler…
Three Key Takeaways.
- It Is Very Possible That Brad Stevens Is The Best Coach In The Country. How many other coaches could have led their team to victory against the number one team in the country with three players fouled out? If any others, the answer to that question is a very small number. Butler entered the overtime period against Indiana with swingman Roosevelt Jones and center Andrew Smith already disqualified due to fouls; then, early in the extra time, forward Erik Fromm picked up his fifth foul. With these three relegated to spectator status, Butler used a much smaller lineup consisting of Alex Barlow, Rotnei Clarke, Kellen Dunham, Chase Stigall, and Khyle Marshall. This lineup proved to be very effective for Butler, as the Bulldogs made five of their seven shots in the extra period. Reserve Stigall and rarely-used Barlow, who only recorded one field goal during the entire 2011-12 season, made the two biggest shots of the game for the Bulldogs. Well-coached teams are squads that never step down in the face of adversity and that is what Butler did this afternoon. You also have to credit the coaching staff for having players like Barlow and Stigall ready to contribute in the late minutes.
- Butler Is A Very Balanced Team. While Rotnei Clarke deservedly draws most of the national praise, this Butler team can hurt you in a variety of ways. Before fouling out, Andrew Smith more than held his own against Cody Zeller, who is without question one of the best players in the country. Smith finished the afternoon with a very workmanlike 12 points and nine rebounds. Roosevelt Jones had a huge afternoon for the Bulldogs too, as he finished with 16 points, 12 rebounds, and seven assists. Khyle Marshall and Erik Fromm were also double-figure scorers for Butler, finishing with 12 and 10, respectively. Alex Barlow, Kellen Dunham, and Chase Stigall all contributed to the scoring column down the stretch with huge field goals that helped contribute to a truly “team” victory. Butler’s balance this afternoon had to have been a great sign for Brad Stevens, as he now knows he can rely on other guys if and when Clarke has an off night.
- Indiana Certainly Did Not Play Like The Best Team In The Country. This might be a little obvious considering the fact that the Hoosiers lost the game, but they did not play a very good game. Standout sophomore Cody Zeller was stymied inside all afternoon by Butler’s interior defense and only managed nine field goal attempts. It is usually not a good sign when your National Player of the Year candidate only takes nine shots. Senior forward Christian Watford was a non-factor for most of the afternoon, as he was saddled with early foul trouble. Watford finished the game with 10 points, but did so while only converting one field goal. Senior guard Jordan Hulls had a rough day shooting the ball, as he converted just four of his 11 field goal attempts and did not make a single three-pointer. Freshman point guard Yogi Ferrell and junior swingman Victor Oladipo each made terrific plays down the stretch in regulation to force overtime, but both players battled turnover issues all game long – each finishing with six. If Indiana wants to be in the top team discussion this season, it is going to need more efforts where it plays like a great team consistently throughout the game.
Star of the Game. Roosevelt Jones, Butler. A case could be made for Rotnei Clarke or Andrew Smith, but I just have to go with Jones. The scrappy sophomore filled up the stat sheet for the Bulldogs by finishing with 16 points, 12 rebounds, and seven assists. Throughout many stretches of the game, Jones was the best player on the court for either team. Jones’ strong play in the first half kept Butler very much in a game that Indiana could have ran away with early.
- “I told the Indiana kids they’re still the team to beat in the country. Both teams had big-time character. Nobody respects IU more than I” – Butler head coach Brad Stevens, remaining classy as ever after his team’s stunning upset victory.
- “Our spirit wavered a little bit based on the score.” – Indiana head coach Tom Crean, acknowledging that his team got down on itself a little bit when Butler surged ahead.
Sights and Sounds. What at-first seemed like a very pro-Indiana crowd turned into an even mix of Hoosier and Butler fans during the Bulldogs’ second half surge. The Notre Dame and Purdue fans who arrived early all seemed to be squarely behind Butler, which is understandable because who doesn’t like an upset?
What’s Next: Butler will have a full week to enjoy its victory, as the Bulldogs do not take the court again until they host Evansville next Saturday. Indiana will have a few days to correct its errors before taking on Mount St. Mary’s in Bloomington on Wednesday.