Three Thoughts as Charlotte Pulled Off the Upset at ButlerPosted by WCarey on February 13th, 2013
Walker Carey is an RTC correspondent. He filed this report after Wednesday night’s game between Charlotte and Butler. You can follow him at @walkerRcarey.
Butler entered Wednesday night’s game a perfect 12-0 at Hinkle Fieldhouse this season, thus earning it the deserved reputation of being one of the toughest teams to beat in their building. The Bulldogs figured to be healthy favorites over Charlotte entering the contest, but that changed when Butler center Andrew Smith was injured in Saturday’s victory over George Washington and it was apparent that he would miss at least the team’s next two games with the abdominal injury. Charlotte entered the game as a bit of an unknown, at least nationally. The 49ers sported a 17-6 record, but they had not earned many victories over quality competition and had gone 1-3 in Atlantic 10 road games. As it turned out, Charlotte was able to take full advantage of Smith’s absence inside by dominating the Bulldogs in the paint en route to an important 71-67 road victory. The following are three thoughts from Wednesday night’s game in Indy.
- This Was Charlotte’s Biggest Win Of The Season. While Charlotte did enter the game with a 17-6 record, the 49ers were not really on anyone’s radar as a potential NCAA Tournament team due to the fact that they don’t have any quality wins. Prior to Wednesday, La Salle was the only team in the RPI Top 50 that the 49ers had defeated. In dire need of a signature win to keep alive any chance to be a part of the field of 68, Charlotte dictated the pace for much of the game en route to earning the terrific victory. Sophomore guard Pierra Henry, who entered the game averaging just nine points per game, finished with 17 points to lead the way for the 49ers. Senior forward Chris Braswell and freshman forward Willie Clayton each contributed 11 points and six rebounds to the victory. Charlotte still has a good amount of work to do to earn a bid to the NCAA Tournament, but Wednesday’s victory at Butler was certainly a step in the right direction.
- Andrew Smith’s Absence Was A Significant Problem For Butler. Losing a 6’11″ center who is also the leader of your defense is never a good thing and Butler proved that once again Wednesday night. Smith’s absence loomed large as Charlotte had its way in the paint all evening, outscoring the Bulldogs underneath by a 38-24 margin. Braswell, Clayton, and freshman forward Darion Clark took advantage of Butler’s undersized post players and combined to tally 32 points and 21 rebounds. Butler junior forward Khyle Marshall and sophomore forward Kameron Woods struggled in Smith’s absence, as Marshall finished with just seven points (on 3-of-9 shooting) and two rebounds, while Woods was held scoreless and grabbed only three rebounds. Smith will also be out for Butler when the team goes to Fordham on Saturday. While the Rams will most likely not pose the same challenges inside that Charlotte did, Butler would probably like to see Smith’s replacements put forth a better effort than they did Wednesday night.
- The Atlantic 10 Standings Are, For A Lack Of A Better Word, Chaotic. Ten teams in the league currently have a .500 or better mark. Virginia Commonwealth and Saint Louis are tied for the league lead at 7-2, while Butler, Xavier, and La Salle are all just a half game off the pace with 7-3 marks. Massachusetts is just a game out of first place, while Charlotte, Temple, George Washington, and St. Joseph’s are all still alive as well. The Big Ten gets much of the attention for being the toughest league in the country, but the Atlantic 10 might very well be the deepest. The lack of a single dominant team has resulted in anyone being able to beat anyone else on any given night. For example, Rhode Island only has two conference wins and one of those came on the road at first place Saint Louis on January 19. This is a league that is definitely one to keep an eye on as the regular season wraps up and conference tournaments begin.