Scouting Butler!! Both Muskies and Bulldogs Aim to Bounce Back!!!
Andy Mac Williams,
Xavier and Butler both rammed squarely into Big East Road Icebergs in ugly mid-week losses. XU(13-3,3-1 BE-third place) faded after an encouraging 12 minutes and succumbed 79-54 at Villanova(4-1 BE). BU(14-3,3-2 BE-fourth place) did even worse at Creighton(4-1).They were really never in the game. The Bulldogs trailed by 20 at the half and by 25 early after the break and lost 75-64. Saturday afternoon boils down to an early showdown for third best in the stacked Big East behind #3 Rated Villanova(they own win already at Creighton) and #8 CU.
Butler's got home court at historic Hinkle. They're 9-0 on campus so far.They beat Villanova at Hinkle 10 days ago(66-58) knocking VU out of their #1 Ranking. Butler owns 4 Top 25 wins(VU and UC at Hinkle,Arizona in LasVegas,Indiana at Banker's Life in Indie). If Butler controls tempo,plays their preferred low turnover multi-pass deliberate offense and uses their improved guard depth to throttled the Muskie BIG THREE(Sumner,Macura and Bluiett),odds are they win a game played in the 60's.
XU needs the Big Three to score the ball and get moving and maybe push the score higher into the 70s or 80s???The Muskies have to re-establish post offense-get mileage out of the Frosh Quentin Gooden and Tyrique Jones(who got a dose of BE road reality at Villanova) and maybe play the Myles Davis wild card. He could be ready to contribute on the road in late shot clock late game situations.
BUTLER A SURPRISE????
BU lost anchor 4 year stars Rosie Jones and Kellen Dunham to graduation. Coach Chris Holtman had two grad transfers ready to play though.Avery Woodson is a three point bomber from Memphis who was a bright light at Creighton(14 points). GW transfer Kethan Savage was hurt and sick early. He's averaging over 10PPG in the BE.His excellent size is a plus(6-3,205). Frosh guard Kamar Baldwin beat Northwestern early with a last second shot.He's ultra quick and aggressive and reminds me of Final Four Bulldog guards Shelvin Mack and Ronald Nored.
Toss in smallish PG Tyler Lewis(NC State transfer) and you have a versatile dangerous group.Holtman plays a lot of three guard line-ups.Butler's better now defensively because of increased guard pressure. The frontline is deep and improving.
Slasher-wing Kelan Martin is the prime scorer.he's rated the NCAA's 8th most productive player by KenPom. Martin has struggled shooting the ball in the 5 Big East games because the league knows he must be limited first(30%FG so far).Here's a guy who dropped 28 against Indiana.He can explode any time. Watch for Trevon Bluiett to mark him.
Low block strong man Tyler Wideman is a nasty hard working Junior now. The point forward is 6-8 Sr Andrew Chrabascz who makes their patient passing game go. Moeller High's Nate Fowler(6-10,230) is playing more and totally healthy now.Nate is pushing for more minutes.
The bench guys Woodson,Savage and Fowler played well at Creighton on a bad team night. Holman could try some starter changes for XU as he did at Cintas last January?? Butler is nasty at Hinkle. The clock operator has to be watched closely.He tried to speed things up in the Villanova win with BU nursing a lead.
We well remember the stopwatch game at Butler vs XU in 2009 with that bogus pro-Butler ending.Bulldpg fans will have two rip Muskie targets. Myles Davis will be booed as he was at Villanova and They'll remember J.Ps tomahawk dunk at the end of last seasons' 74-57 butt kicking at Butler.
HISTORY FAVORS XAVIER!!!
Since the XU-BU series resumed in 2008,Xavier has won 9 and lost 4 including 4 wins in 6 tries at Hinkle. The Muskies have done well in New Big East games vs the Bulldogs winning 6 of 7 including 4 in a row dating back two years. That success continues if Xavier learns from the Villanova loss and handles the inevitable road adversity better.The BIG THREE have to show up as a group-shoot it decently and be the Muskies' best players. The backline defense has to stay focused and survive a flurry of ball screens.
BIGS Gaston and O'Mara and Jones have to bang bodies with Wideman and Fowler. Frosh can't be passengers. Complimentary guys like Malcolm Bernard and Kaiser Gates and Myles Davis must contribute positively.Remy Abell has huge last season as a 5th scoring option vs Butler. X can stop the bleeding and move into a tie for second at 4-1 with Creighton with a win. CU plays non Division 1 Truman Saturday night before traveling to Xavier for that MLK Game Monday afternoon at 2PM(FS1).
Villanova(4-1) should prevail against St. Johns Saturday at MSG. Xavier 77 Butler 70!! Villanova's a speed bump.Road losses at Baylor and VU are nothing to panic over.