This is my 200th post using blogger.com on the new site as I call it (well since January 21, 2009). Two hundred posts in not even a year's time? Wow, I guess this is more than a hobby. As for the old site, you can still find some archives from that on the link on the left hand side.
So, how to celebrate my 200th post? Oh with a Butler-Detroit recap from yesterday.
Did I ever tell you that I love the Horizon League Network?! Where else do you get to see for free online Butler vs. Detroit (well possibly much to the chagrin of the people at Calihan Hall that paid to see this game). So there I am in my living room watching my two kids while following the Bulldogs and the Titans on HLN. As I wrote some of this article, I was watching Live Butler Basketball Tonight with Coach Stevens as he talks about how many times he has lost to Wright State in the Nutter Center over the years (but not this past Friday). And not only do you get live events, you get the Mid Majority's own Damon Lewis' HLN blog about whether any of the Horizon teams can catch Butler.
Well, I will say this much, Detroit gave #24 Butler all they could handle at Calihan Hall yesterday. The Titans went ahead early 13-7 as Chase Simon gave the Titans fans a preview of how his day would go with 5 quick points. It was evident early on that Detroit was going to play physical defense with the Bulldogs and it gave them fits. Problem for Detroit was that Butler was equal to the defensive challenge.
Butler held Detroit to 27 percent shooting from the field, including 1 of 7 from beyond the arc. Meanwhile Detroit in return would hold Butler to only 30 percent from the field in the first half and only 3 of 14 from beyond the arc in the half. However one of those three pointers by Shelvin Mack put Butler up 19-17 with 4:05 left in the half. Butler would be up at halftime 23-20.
The second half was a much different story as both teams were able to score more effectively as both teams shot over 54 percent from the field. Butler extended the lead to seven, but Detroit wouldn't go away. The Titans were within two, 33-31 with fourteen and a half minutes left. During this time, starting Detroit forward Eli Holman quickly picked up his third and fourth fouls. But the Titans managed to hang in there.
Now what was funny was that the crowd didn't seem all that loud, especially compared to the Friday night game vs. Valpo. Now it may have been the online live feed that lowered the crowd noise, but the live feed was still light years better than the Akron feed when they played Rhode Island. Hey, a real live announcer calling play by play! Still it seemed like the Detroit crowd didn't believe that the Titans were still in the game. Finally, the crowd finally sounded loud when Detroit tied it at 47 with 5:55 left.
Butler would go ahead again by five, 52-47 on a three pointer by Willie Veasley with 3:41 left. Holman came back with a little over 3 minutes left but was on the court for only 60 seconds as he fouled out trying to play help defense on a block attempt. However, a jumper by Simon tied the game at 53. Then after Veasley hit one of two free throws. Woody Payne hit a sweet layup to put Detroit up one 55-54 with five seconds left.
As the 4,493 in attendance were in a frenzy (I could hear it in this case), Butler Coach Brad Stevens called timeout. The play was simple. Get it to Gordon Hayward and Hayward drove the lane and was fouled right before time expired. Hayward, shooting 85 percent from the line this season, calmly swished the first one. But Hayward would miss the second and the game went into overtime.
In the overtime, Detroit would be ahead 62-60 as Simon scored five of the seven Detroit points in OT. But two Ronald Nored free throws and a jumper by Shelvin Mack would put the Bulldogs ahead to stay as Butler held on for a 64-62 win. Simon lead Detroit with 23 points and Xavier Keeling and Thomas Kennedy had 14 and 12 points respectively.
For Butler, Hayward had 17 points to lead four Bulldogs scorers in double figures. Mack, Veasley and Matt Howard each had 10. Now what's interesting is this year's Bulldogs are much more oriented on the play of Hayward and Mack. This has resulted in Matt Howard averaging four less points per game than last season as his FG percentage has plummeted from 55 percent last season to 44 percent this season. His field goal and free throw attempts are also down. Last season, he averaged 8.4 FG attempts and 7 FT attempts per game. This season 6.7 FG attempts and nearly 6 FT attempts per game. Howard only had five FG attempts in yesterday's game.
Even though the Bulldogs are 5-0 in conference and have a two game lead over the second place teams, Butler seems more vulnerable this season than last season. I think it's due in large part to teams keying on Howard as well as Howard not playing as well last season. I think for Butler to be successful they need to get Howard going. They were fortunate to barely beat Detroit yesterday.