Butler’s Christmas Gift: The Impact of Roosevelt Jones

Posted by Justin Kundrat on December 24th, 2015

Butler has historically been a defensive-minded program. The best teams of the Brad Stevens era rarely had the biggest or most offensively talented group of players, but what won games for the Bulldogs was toughness and intelligence, a methodical pace and aggressive man-to-man defense. With Chris Holtmann at the helm, now in his second season, the switch has been flipped. This year’s team is playing at a tempo that far outpaces any Butler team in the 14-year KenPom era, and the results of the uptick have so far been tremendous. The Bulldogs are averaging the second most points per game in the nation (89.7) and are unquestionably the highest scoring team in the history of the program (the next highest is the 2011 team that averaged 71.2 PPG and lost to Connecticut in the National Championship game).

The impending battle down low between Roosevelt Jones and will be must see TV. (ZJB photograpy)

Roosevelt Jones finally has it going for Butler. (ZJB photograpy)

Don’t get the wrong idea, though. The team’s ridiculously high scoring rates have not been facilitated by a full-blown run-and-gun offense, as Butler has been shooting, rebounding and taking care of the ball at unprecedented rates. There are a multitude of explanations for its newfound efficiency: senior Kellen Dunham‘s improved shot selection; point guard Tyler Lewis‘ preference for faster basketball (particularly when compared to his predecessor, Alex Barlow), and the emergence of Kelan Martin as a legitimate scorer. But above all, it’s been the steadying force of guard Roosevelt Jones that has pushed Butler into overdrive. Despite playing fewer minutes this season, the senior has elevated his game and improved his production in nearly every statistical category.

In short, Jones has gotten more involved in every facet of the offense. He is shooting a career best 50.0 percent from the field and has increased his per-game averages in rebounding from 5.2 RPG to 7.8 RPT and assists from 3.7 APG to 5.4 APG. Moreover, he has logged only one KenPom offensive rating below 100.0 this season (it was over 100.0 in just 15 of 34 contests last season). But to explain Jones’ game in purely numbers would hardly be doing it justice; he has had a monumental impact within one of the nation’s most efficient offenses. While under greater pressure to score last season, his overall shooting percentage dropped from 48.6 percent to 42.1 percent. Now, with Lewis and Martin emerging as legitimate scoring threats as well, the lane has opened up and allowed Jones to thrive.  Read the rest of this entry »

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College Basketball by the Tweets: Bayloring, Brad Stevens & “Tyler Ennis” Unis for Sale

Posted by Nick Fasulo (@nickfasuloSBN) on February 18th, 2014

Nick Fasulo is an RTC correspondent who writes the column College Basketball By the Tweets, a look at the world of college hoops through the prism of everyone’s favorite social media platform. You can find him on Twitter @nickfasuloSBN.

Big/Fat Heads are all the rage in college basketball student sections these days. Personally, I believe that deviating from mainstream, easy-to-identify faces with more obscure mugs deserve bonus points. A tip of the cap, Seminole fans:

Brad Stevens is Probably a Great Person

By all accounts, The former Butler head coach is an incredible individual. Here he is visiting former player Andrew Smith after he was diagnosed with Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma. Yes, that means Stevens made an impromptu trip from Boston to Indy last week to check in on a friend.


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Big East M5: Christmas Eve Edition

Posted by Dan Lyons on December 24th, 2013





  1. Providence fans no long have to wait to find out the status of freshmen Brandon Austin and Rodney Bullock, but unfortunately, the news is none too kind to the Friars. Providence has announced that the two will remain suspended for the rest of the 2013-14 season on Monday, ending the hopes that the two young players would help bolster this Friars squad as the Big East season comes into view.  The Friars, who already lost Kris Dunn to injury for the season, now have a major depth issue at guard, forcing Bryce Cotton to play over 37 minutes per game and leaving the Friars without a true starting point guard.
  2. St. John’s came out on fire against an overpowered Youngstown squad this weekend, highlighted by the efforts of D’Angelo Harrison, who captured the Johnnies record for three-point shots made on Saturday, knocking down his 152nd triple of his career just 26 seconds into the game to break the record previously held by Willie Shaw, en route to a 29 point outburst in a 96-87 win.  While Harrison is often branded as a gunner, this season his scoring, field goal percentage, and free throw percentage are all up, and his three-point percentage is just a shade under what he shot as a freshman, while he’s playing fewer minutes and taking fewer shots per game.  Harrison has also shown the ability to lock up some strong opposing guards on defense, and has definitely been a key to St. John’s recent stretch of strong play.
  3. With his Boston Celtics traveling to Indianapolis to face the red hot Pacers, former Butler coach Brad Stevens had a chance to reconnect with many of the people who he worked with and coached.  While Stevens is obviously focused on his first NBA season, he told The Indianapolis Star that he has watched almost all of Butler’s games and still reaches out to some of the players on this years squad to give encouragement.  While I’m sure most Bulldogs fans would take Stevens back in a minute, he remains humble, and assures everyone that the program will go on without him under Brandon Miller: “I told you guys this in July… They are going to be a lot better without me. There is nothing better than watching that.”
  4. Josh Smith had a strong start in Georgetown’s game against Kansas on Saturday, scoring the Hoyas’ first two buckets.  Unfortunately for Georgetown, Smith’s quick start encompassed almost all of the center’s production, as he struggled to stay on the court against the Jayhawks, and fouled out after just 19 minutes.  On the other side, Kansas’ Joel Embiid put together a very strong effort, finishing with 17 points on four shots and eight total rebounds is 21 minutes, in just his 11th collegiate game.  Brian Goodman frames the game, which turned into a decisive victory for Kansas, within these two performances.  Where Kansas is a very young team that is capable of dominance on any given day, Georgetown is still finding itself, and Smith’s struggles limit what the Hoyas can do on both ends of the court.
  5. Fox Sports 1 is all in on Big East basketball, and while there aren’t many live options for the college fan on Christmas day, the network will be playing classic Big East match-ups throughout the day.  Starting at noon, Big East fans can check out some great past games like 1985’s Final Four match-up between St. John’s and Georgetown, or that year’s national championship game, an all-Big East affair between a powerhouse Hoya squad and an upstart Villanova club. I won’t ruin the ending for anyone who has somehow missed those highlights pretty much every year the two teams meet, but I can assure you, it’s a good one.
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Boeheim, K, Pitino & Roy: Considering Their Careers and Replacements

Posted by Christopher Kehoe on December 19th, 2013

Often when you think about a team like Duke or Syracuse, what comes to mind tends to be certain trademark characteristics that those schools exhibit and in turn becomes associated with them. For Syracuse, it’s the orange jerseys, the 2-3 zone, and head coach Jim Boeheim. For Duke, people envision Cameron Indoor Stadium with the Cameron Crazies, floor-slapping for a defensive stop, and head coach Mike Krzyzewski. The fact that these two coaches immediately come to mind is a testament to their staying power and the impact they’ve had on their respective universities and college basketball as a whole. Neither Krzyzewski (66) nor Boeheim (69) is a spring chicken, however, and that poses a serious dilemma for their schools as both are nearing retirement age.

Boeheim and Pitino confer in a meeting of Hall of Famers

Boeheim and Pitino confer in a meeting of Hall of Famers

Perhaps not in the exact same boat but not too far behind are Louisville’s Rick Pitino (61) and North Carolina’s Roy Williams (63). Neither head coach has been a ‘lifer’ at one program like Boeheim and Krzyzewski, but they remain living legends in their own right. While Syracuse and Duke owe a resounding amount of their present success to their two current coaches, Pitino and Williams have added substantially to illustrious program legacies with Final Fours and championships. Regardless, all four coaches are bona fide Hall of Famers with 100s of wins and at least one national title each. More specifically, the four coaches are responsible for 29 Final Fours, nine national championships, and an unfathomable .760% winning percentage over more than 3,700 college basketball games. If it’s even possible, these staggering numbers do not even do justice on their impact on the sport of college basketball.

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Introducing the RTC Big East Preseason Power Rankings

Posted by Dan Lyons (@Dan_Lyons76) on November 8th, 2013

College basketball is back! Seven Big East teams open their seasons tonight, including a few big match-ups like St. John’s vs. Wisconsin and Georgetown vs. Oregon. There is no better time to unveil the Big East microsite’s preseason rankings, with comments and analysis from our group of Big East writers:

Marquette Needs to Go Inside Against Davidson

Marquette tops Rush the Court’s preseason Big East rankings.

10. DePaul

  • Dan Lyons – With Cleveland Melvin and Brandon Young heading into their senior years, this might be DePaul’s best chance to get out of the Big East basement, but I’m definitely taking a wait and see approach with the Blue Demons.
  • George Hershey – It’s DePaul… They have some talent in Melvin and Young, but they don’t play defense.
  • Todd Keryc – It doesn’t matter what league they play in or who else is in it, the poor Blue Demons are destined for the cellar almost every year.
 9. Butler
  • DL – With the injury to Roosevelt Jones, Butler is without a returning double-figure scorer this season. I’m not one to bet against the Bulldogs, with or without Brad Stevens, but this inaugural Big East campaign isn’t shaping up too well for this Cinderella.
  • GH – They lose many pieces from last year’s team. Roosevelt Jones’ injury really hurts, but they are Butler and they always surprise everyone. Expect Kellen Dunham to have a big year.
  • TK – Bad timing for the Bulldogs. They ride two straight national title appearances into two straight conference upgrades, only to see their boy wonder coach Brad Stevens leave for the NBA.

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Big East M5: 10.21.13 Edition

Posted by Dan Lyons on October 21st, 2013


  1. New York Times writer Zach Schonbrun experienced a sense of relief among the various schools at last week’s Big East Media Day in Manhattan. After many seasons played under the shroud of conference realignment, culminating with the awkwardness of last season’s farewell tour for Syracuse, Pittsburgh, and Notre Dame, the Big East is now a settled, basketball-driven league focused on private schools in metropolitan markets. While the conference’s new members — Butler, Creighton, and Xavier — are all located in the Midwest, they fit into the league quite well culturally. St. John’s head coach Steve Lavin actually thinks the new schools fit in better than some of the public universities that have moved on to the American Athletic Conference, and the schools who left for the ACC for largely football-based reasons: “It’s not like a ‘Sesame Street’ deal — which one doesn’t belong… You’ve got a tree, a bush, some seaweed and then a truck. It just didn’t fit. I think now we have a league that’s more similar.”
  2. Georgetown lost an excellent player to the NBA Draft in standout forward Otto Porter, but guard Markel Starks thinks that the Hoyas are more than just one player and that his team will look to prove that this season: “We play as a unit… We play as a group. Obviously, we just lost a great player. Even still, with or without him, we play as a unit. … I think we can still be a very dangerous team.” Starks, now a senior, will probably bear much of the weight of Porter’s absence in the scoring column, after averaging 12.8 points per game last season. He will be joined in the backcourt by D’Vauntes Smith-Rivera, who proved capable of exploding for big point totals last season. Smith-Rivera scored at least 14 points in three of his last four regular season games last season, and dropped 33 in 34 minutes against DePaul on February 20.
  3. One of the major changes fans will notice in the conference this year is a lack of legendary coaches on the sidelines, although the Big East will not be hurting for talent in that spot. Gone are Hall of Famers like Jim Boeheim and Rick Pitino, but rising stars like Marquette’s Buzz Williams and Georgetown’s John Thompson III are poised to lead the conference into this new era. Thompson agrees that the coaching talent in the league is very high: “If you look around the room, the quality of coaching is outstanding. Yes, we lost some Hall of Fame coaches, but I don’t think too many teams want to go up against the guys in this room. Every game is going to be a battle. That was true last year; that’s going to be true this year.” Williams also believes in the overall quality of the league, and thinks it stands up with the best conferences in college basketball: “Every coach is going to say they play in the best league, but if you objectively study the numbers, I think what this league has done the last five years speaks for itself. I think this year that will hold firm, too.”
  4. Even without the likes of Syracuse, Louisville, and UConn, many are excited about the prospects of the Big East, especially those at the league’s three new schools: Butler, Creighton, and Xavier. Between the television contract with Fox Sports 1 and the ability to play at Madison Square Garden, the Big East provides a great increase in exposure for the former Horizon League, Missouri Valley Conference, and Atlantic 10 teams. Rumble in the Garden‘s Chris Ronca caught up with Xavier’s Chris Mack and Creighton’s Greg McDermott, who were both very excited about these new possibilities. Mack says his players are excited about playing at MSG:  “Playing for your conference championship in the Mecca is an amazing opportunity for Xavier fans and players.” McDermott talked about the league’s TV contract and it’s impact on the Creighton program: “[Creighton’s] fans have longed for this for awhile.” McDermott went on to say that “with Fox [Sports] 1, it’s very exciting for the program… there’ll be a lot of new ideas with how [Creighton’s] product is shown nationally.”
  5. Sports Illustrated‘s [and RTC‘s] Chris Johnson’s “Stock Watch” series sets its gaze on the Big East, and he’s quite bullish on Villanova, while throwing a bit of shade on Butler. Johnson cites Villanova’s surge in the middle of last season, where the Wildcats knocked off top five Louisville and Syracuse outfits in a a five-day stretch, as evidence that Jay Wright’s club is very dangerous. He likes the combination of Ryan Arcidiacono, JayVaughn Pinkston, and Daniel Ochefu, and believes that if the team continues to get to the free throw line and play stingy defense, it can push for the top of the league standings. As for Butler, Johnson believes that the loss of Brad Stevens in conjunction with an increase in the difficulty of conference play will hurt the Bulldogs, as will the departures of Rotnei Clark and Andrew Smith as well as the injury to Roosevelt Jones.
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The RTC Offseason Podcast: August Doldrums Edition

Posted by rtmsf on August 19th, 2013

August is arguably the deadest month of the college basketball calendar, but that didn’t stop the crew from putting together an RTC Offseason Podcast to review the last six or seven weeks of news since the NBA Draft went down in late June. Shane Connolly (@sconnolly114) came out of his summer hibernation to serve as our host, and the guys took on the topics of Division 4, what defines success for an NBA coach and whether summer basketball is roughly as relevant to future success as preseason football (full timeline below). We’ll be back in late September as we start to truly gear up for the 2013-14 season. See you then!

  • 0:00-12:25 – The Future of the NCAA
  • 12:25-20:07 – Butler sans Brad Stevens
  • 20:07-24:39 – Never-ending PJ Hairston Saga
  • 24:39-27:04 – Summer International Tournaments – News or Noise?
  • 27:04-32:48 – ESPN Tip Off Marathon
  • 32:48-43:08 – ESPN Gameday Schedule/wrap
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Brandon Miller Is An Excellent Choice To Replace Brad Stevens at Butler: What Happens Next?

Posted by Chris Johnson on July 8th, 2013

Chris Johnson is an RTC Columnist. He can be reached @ChrisDJohnsonn

Familiarity and tradition has worked for Butler when executing coaching changes in the past, and it will have to work once more after watching Brad Stevens take an immense NBA leap of faith in agreeing to become the next head coach of the Boston Celtics. Butler wasted no time hiring Stevens’ replacement; shortly after his departure was made official Wednesday night, two candidates–Michigan assistant LaVall Jordan and Butler assistant Brandon Miller–were identified as the only two candidates with any conceivable shot at actually landing the job. Jordan was seen as the frontrunner, and for good reason: he is widely respected in Big Ten coaching circles, played and coached at Butler and was seen as the biggest guiding hand in elevating Trey Burke to First Team All-American/Lottery pick status.

The Bulldogs moved quickly to hire Miller. Navigating their conference jump won't be quite as simple (AP).

The Bulldogs moved quickly to hire Miller. Navigating their conference jump won’t be quite as simple (AP).

In the end, Butler went with what has worked in the past. Miller is the fourth consecutive Butler coach to be promoted from within, a quintessential Bulldogs hire. And not only did Miller play and coach for the Bulldogs, he is also, like Stevens, Matta, and Lickliter before him, getting his first opportunity as a college head coach at the school. Fortunately for him, this job likely would have gone to former assistant Matt Graves, the current South Alabama head coach and star Butler guard widely presumed to be Stevens’ successor whenever the possibility of Stevens leaving – which was basically, like, any time a high major job opened up over the past three seasons – cropped up. Miller returned to the Bulldogs bench once Graves left for South Alabama, and unwittingly positioned himself for a promotion few college basketball people saw coming at this stage of the offseason. His profile aligns with everything Butler has sought in its recent coaching hires, but this time, the stakes are even higher, and Miller has a more difficult mandate than the other in-house hires that preceded him.

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Morning Five: 07.08.13 Edition

Posted by nvr1983 on July 8th, 2013


  1. The biggest news of the weekend was that Butler announced that Brandon Miller would be its next coach. The task of replacing Brad Stevens at Butler (or at least the idea of Brad Stevens) might be nothing short of Herculean so we hope that the administration at Butler will give Miller, who beat out former Butler star and current Michigan assistant LaVall Jordan for the job, some time to find his way. The Bulldogs will be returning plenty of talent, but will also be losing quite a bit with the departures of Rotnei Clarke and Andrew Smith. We would have expected Stevens to turn the team into a tough out by March, but that might be too much to ask for a new coach. So while many pundits may be quick to judge Miller we think he should at least be given a few years before judgement is passed.
  2. We still are not sure what to make of the continuing story surrounding P.J. Hairston and his arrests involving rental cars that were rented for long periods of time by individuals from the same address, but we are assuming it is not good for Hairston’s future at North Carolina. The arrest that everybody knows about is the one involving the possession of marijuana (and the mysterious gun that was never attributed to anybody). The news that the car had been rented by an individual with multiple aliases and prior arrests probably is not that bad by itself. The bigger issue comes from the fact Hairston had been arrested back in May for speeding while driving a car that had been rented by an individual with the same address as the individual who rented the car used by Hairston in his more publicized arrest. We are not sure if this will be enough for the NCAA to rule Hairston ineligible, but it should be enough for North Carolina to question whether it wants to continue to associate itself with Hairston.
  3. As we figured the case regarding the eligibility of Joseph Young was bound to get complicated. Young, who led Houston in scoring left the school after his father refused to accept a reassignment within the program. Now the Young family is seeking a hardship waiver enabling him to play at Oregon next season saying that Michael was essentially fired, but was forced to remain on contract while his son was still in school. We still are not sure how the NCAA will rule on this because it depends on how you define fired. From what we have been seen Michael was offered a comparable salary, but a different position within the program (one that he did not want). If that is true, we would have a hard time siding with the Young family here. If those are the facts and the NCAA sides with the Young family they should probably just get rid of the whole one-year transfer period. However, if Michael’s story is true then Houston should be facing some severe NCAA sanctions.
  4. Unlike some recent years this year’s NBA Draft Lottery featured players from 13 different schools (only Indiana had two players selected) so while no team was hit particularly hard by departures (see Kentucky in 2010 and 2012) many schools are trying to figure out how to replace key players. Jason King took a look at these 13 teams and what they have to do to make up for the loss of the departing players. Some teams like Indiana and Lehigh will have tough time figuring out how to make up for their losses in the next few seasons, but others like Kentucky and Kansas should have more than enough incoming talent to make their fans forgot about the departures within the first few months of the season.
  5. Most of the college basketball world will be focused on the Kentuckys and Dukes of the world when November rolls around, but for our money Rutgers might be one of the most interesting teams to follow this year as they try to recover from the fallout of the Mike Rice fiasco. The first step of that process came from Eddie Jordan trying to repair the damage that had been done when the news about Mike Rice’s abuse broke. Brendan Prunty took an in-depth look at the methods that Jordan used to help keep the program afloat once he took over. Jordan and the Scarlet Knights may struggle next season, but it will not be for a lack of work over the summer by Jordan.
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Morning Five: 07.05.13 Edition

Posted by rtmsf on July 5th, 2013


  1. Brad Stevens, Brad Stevens, Brad Stevens. The talk of the college basketball world has been centered on the Wednesday afternoon announcement that the Butler head coach was leaving his post for the glamour and riches of the NBA’s Boston Celtics. Everyone, of course, has an opinion on this bold and very surprising move, so let’s sum up what folks are saying. First, from the Brad Stevens/Celtics side: Adrian Wojnarowski writes that Stevens represents the “changing face of [NBA] coaches” in its new era of statistical analytics; the Indy Star‘s Bob Kravitz says that he can’t blame Stevens for jumping to the league; Fox Sports‘ Reid Forgrave calls the move a “gutsy” one on the part of Danny Ainge and the Celtics; while SI.com‘s Ben Golliver argues that the Celtics’ decision to pluck a successful college head coach with no NBA experience is a worthwhile risk. As we tweeted when we heard the news on Wednesday, the move makes sense from a logical standpoint, but it just doesn’t feel right. Stevens embodied our perhaps romantic notion of a college lifer, and in the NBA, coaches are hired to be fired. It’s hard to see him not coming back to our game sooner rather than later.
  2. The other angle in this story is what will happen to Butler without Stevens now leading the program? As our own Chris Johnson writes, the loss of a superstar like Stevens cannot be overstated — the program will absolutely take a hit, regardless of who is chosen to replace him. The most recent report suggests that either Butler assistant Brandon Miller or Michigan assistant Lavall Jordan will get the job, with Miller presumably holding the inside track given the school’s 24-year run of promoting coaches from within the program (although Jordan has more Butler experience). The general sentiment among the hoops cognoscenti is that Butler will figure out a way to still be Butler. SI.com‘s Andy Glockner writes that Butler is in great position to remain relevant and successful, regardless of who they hire to take over for Stevens. The Sporting News‘ Mike DeCourcy thinks that the program may have a bit of a rude awakening with a new head coach suffering the indignities of a brutal Big East round-robin schedule next winter. But both Pat Forde and Matt Norlander move beyond that angle, arguing that college basketball as a whole is the real loser in Stevens’ move to the Celtics. Can’t disagree with that at all.
  3. From a coach on the way out of the college game to one sticking around, Florida State’s Leonard Hamilton received an extension through 2016-17 (and a $750,000 raise, to boot) to remain in Tallahassee as the head coach of the Seminoles. The timing is somewhat surprising given that FSU last year suffered its worst season (18-16) in nearly a decade under Hamilton’s tutelage, but his previous four years of NCAA Tournament appearances and an ACC Championship certainly show that Hamilton has his program in overall good shape. His new salary of $2.25 million annually puts him second behind only Duke’s Mike Krzyzewski in terms of salaries among ACC coaches.
  4. We’re 51 weeks away from next season’s NBA Draft, but Mike DeCourcy took time during his Starting Five column this week to break down how he sees the top five picks going for 2014 (let’s just say that one-and-done is prominently featured). He also takes time to rip both FIBA — for its appalling lack of television broadcast options for the U-19 team — and Georgetown recruit LJ Peak, whose “psyche-out” trick using the school hats of suitors South Carolina and the Hoyas left a really bad taste in a lot of people’s mouths (ourselves included).
  5. Let’s finish the holiday week with some really good news on the health front: ESPN’s highlighter aficianado Digger Phelps has been declared cancer-free related to his bladder cancer diagnosis earlier this year. In just over one 12-month period, Phelps had survived both prostate and now bladder cancer, so it’s been a wild but ultimately successful year for the 72-year old television personality and former head coach. Phelps takes a lot of heat for some of his takes on ESPN’s Gameday show, but he’s always entertaining and we certainly hope that these health problems will remain behind him so that we can all enjoy many more years of green tie/highlighter pairings from January to March each season.
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