Three Thoughts as Butler Defeats Temple in Rotnei Clarke’s ReturnPosted by WCarey on January 26th, 2013
Walker Carey is an RTC correspondent. He filed this report after Saturday night’s game between Temple and Butler. You can follow him at @walkerRcarey.
Butler suffered its first Atlantic 10 loss and its first loss of any kind since November 21 on Wednesday when the Bulldogs were upended by La Salle on the road. The defense of the Explorers frustrated Butler all night en route to a 54-53 victory. Needing a shot in the arm offensively, Butler received one Friday afternoon when the school announced that leading-scorer Rotnei Clarke had been cleared to play in Saturday evening’s tilt with Temple. Clarke, a senior, had missed the team’s last three games after suffering a sprained neck against Dayton on January 12. With Clarke back in the fold, Butler had a bit of an offensive explosion as the Bulldogs scored their most points in over a month in a 12-point victory over a solid Temple squad. The following are three thoughts from Saturday night’s game.
- Butler’s Complementary Players Keep Improving. While it was Clarke who led the way for the Bulldogs with 24 points today, the contributions of freshman guard Kellen Dunham and junior forward Khyle Marshall were just as significant. Dunham, who returned to a reserve role due to Clarke’s return, was hot from behind the three-point line all game. He finished with 17 points and shot a blistering 5-of-6 from behind the arc. Marshall, who had scored a total of just 15 points over the last three games, broke out in a major way, scoring 19 points on a very efficient 9-of-11 from the field. While Clarke is still clearly the leading scorer and go-to guy, contributions from Dunham, Marshall, senior big man Andrew Smith, and sophomore swingman Roosevelt Jones are going to be major factors as the Bulldogs face stiff competition every night in Atlantic 10 play. The aforementioned players have all shown they are capable of making an impact, and if they continue to do consistently, Butler will remain a tough opponent on a nightly basis.
- Rotnei Clarke is Not Just a One-Dimensional Player. While Clarke deservedly has the reputation as a lights-out shooter, it is time to acknowledge him as a complete player as well. While Clarke’s shot was off a bit tonight in his return from injury – he finished 4-of-14 from the field and 3-of-10 from deep – the senior displayed that he is plenty capable of making an impact in other ways. He recorded a season-high nine assists while orchestrating an offensive attack that shot 52% for the game. Clarke’s ability as an outside shooter results in teams paying a great deal of attention on containing that part of his game, and on Saturday evening, that attention led to Clarke finding open teammates early and often.
- This Temple Squad is Tough to Figure Out. As the NCAA Tournament approaches, no one in the country might have as peculiar of a resume as the Owls. Fran Dunphy’s team has looked very good at times this season — most notably in wins over Syracuse and Saint Louis and in a narrow loss at Kansas — but it has also struggled mightily on occasion, such as in a blowout loss to Duke and losses to Canisius and Saint Bonaventure. What is the most troubling about the Owls’ inconsistencies is that they are a talented and veteran team. Senior guards Khalif Wyatt and Scootie Randall are among the most talented players in the Atlantic 10. Sophomore forward Anthony Lee has elevated his game to become the team’s second-leading scorer (11.8 PPG) and leading rebounder (7.4 RPG), while also leading the team in field goal percentage (54.9%). This team is not short on talent, which makes its struggles and inconsistencies difficult to process. If the Owls want to make any noise in the Atlantic 10, they are going to need to find a way to perform more consistently on a nightly basis.