November 11, 2012
Scouting the Butler Bulldogs
Record: 1-0 this season with win over Elon, also won two exhibition games, last season finished 22-15
#15 Rotnei Clarke - 6'0 senior PG: Arkansas transfer sat out last year, and is playing his only year with the Bulldogs. As a junior at Arkansas in '10-'11, Clarke averaged 15.2 points; his third straight year of scoring in double figures. Deadly shooter and scorer finished with 21 points in Butler's season opening win.
#33 Chase Stigall - 6'3 senior SG: Three-point bomber shot just 28% from deep last year, but is always looking for his shot. Stigall averaged 5.2 points per game a season ago.
#21 Roosevelt Jones - 6'4 sophomore SF: Started as a freshman a year ago, averaged 7.8 points and a team high 6 rebounds. Jones is a strong and skilled wing who is due for a breakout sophomore year.
#23 Khyle Marshall - 6'6 junior PF: Second on team in scoring a year ago at 9.8 points, along with 4.3 rebounds. Marshall is averaging 14 points this year between opener and two exhibitions.
#44 Andrew Smith - 6'11 senior C: Led team in scoring last season at 10.9 points, while finishing second in rebounding at 5 per game. Butler's main interior threat, is prone to foul trouble.
#31 Kameron Woods - 6'9 sophomore C: Averaged 4.1 points and 2.2 rebounds as a freshman a year ago, the heir apparent inside to Andrew Smith; should see more minutes this season.
#24 Kellen Dunham - 6'6 freshman SG/SF: Averaging 13 points off the bench between the opener and two exhibitions game. Dunham is a physical wing whom the Bulldogs are expecting big things from this year.
#4 Erik Fromm - 6'8 junior PF: Averaged 4 points in limited action last year, but should step up and play significant minutes this season. Skilled big can step out and shoot the three-pointer when he wants to.
#3 Alex Barlow - 6'0 sophomore PG/SG: Walk on from Cincinnati (OH) Moeller is the first guard off the bench this season after the disciplinary departure of star guard Chrishawn Hopkins.
Xavier Defensive Keys:
• Protect the three - Through three outings, one regular season game and two exhibitions, Butler is shooting just under twenty three-pointers per game, at a rate of about 35%. The top shooters for the Bulldogs are Rotnei Clarke, Chase Stigall, and Erik Fromm. Since the departure of Chrishawn Hopkins, Butler does not have many guys who can create jumpers for themselves. The key here will be the ability of Xavier guards to contain Clarke, who is Butler's most creative offensive threat.
• Be physical on the wing - After Clarke's shot making abilities, the strength of the Butler offense is the physicality on the perimeter of Roosevelt Jones and Khyle Marshall. It is imperative that Xavier players match the intensity and strength on the wing, particularly in rebounding situations. If Butler's big and strong wings are allowed to be the aggressors then the Bulldogs have a much better chance of winning.
• Speed them up - The Bulldogs only have one truly reliable ballhandling guard, Clarke, who will be playing just his second true game in a Butler uniform. Once the Bulldogs go into their bench on the perimeter they usually will go with a walk-on or a young player. This gives Xavier a prime opportunity to apply pressure on Clarker, tire him out, and then try and take advantage of Butler's weaker players. If Clarke is tired out from handling against pressure it will also make it more difficult for him to score in the half court.
Xavier Offensive Keys:
• Stick with what works - In their first game the Musketeers found a nice balance of what works for them offensively, as well as shooting the lights out. Xavier is still learning this new motion based offense, but they need to keep it simple and stick with what was effective against Fairleigh Dickinson. Semaj Christon will be back to help facilitate offense, the biggest key to the game might be the ability of Christon and Dee Davis to get the Musketeers good shots, especially when it gets late in the shot clock.
• Look inside - For the second game in as many tries the Musketeers face a team with limited interior depth, and a big man in Smith who has struggled against them in the past. Xavier will still be without Isaiah Philmore, but they do have more strength in numbers inside then the Bulldogs do. If Travis Taylor, Jeff Robinson, Erik Stenger, and James Farr can get something going inside then Xavier's perimeter offense should flow much more smoothly.
• Seize the moment - This is Xavier's first big game of the season, as for Butler's. After the game we'll know a lot more about what the Musketeers are capable of this season. Offensively, if Xavier can keep their hot shooting going it will give this team a chance to identify their strengths and create a team identity for the future. It might be early, but this is a huge game for Xavier.
Overall: This is a very winnable game for the Musketeers, but their primary focus is going to have to be on the defensive end. Clarke is a high level scorer who can get hot after one make, and the combination of Jones and Marshall makes for strong wing play. Xavier's perimeter defense will have to be spot on, and some timely interior play on the defensive end won't hurt either. Offensively a big part of the game will come down to if Xavier is making shots again, when they find ways to free up Brad Redford, Justin Martin and other players this team is going to be pretty good. Look for the game to come down to a war of execution in the chess board style game. Whichever team is more prepared, poised, confident, and dedicated to getting a win should pull it out; but in all likelihood we're looking at an early season nail-biter.
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