Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Louisville: Just What Butler Needed!

Following what could have been one of the ugliest Butler basketball games since the Bulldogs were neutralized by Minnesota last year in Anaheim, I cannot help to think that the loss to Louisville was a great thing. Don't get me wrong, the 15 point loss last week might have been the "worst" loss Butler has sustained in a few years, but it could not have come at a better time. Hear me out.

As most Butler fans have found out by now, we are not the same team that came one shot away from a National Championship. In fact, I think that this year's team (2010-2011) could be BETTER. Don't believe me? Just look how well the team has responded since the infamous loss. Four days after basketball's version of the valentine's day massacre, Butler turned its frustrations on a previously undefeated Ball State team and crushed them by 33 points. Three days after that, Butler walked into Times Union Center and did what only one other team has done in 40 games - win.

Although the 33 point dismantling of Ball State served justice for the rumored BSU fans' chanting "We want Butler" after a less-than stunning defeat of Indiana State, it is the Siena game that is the most encouraging. Despite being unable to watch the game on TV, I was following online thanks to Victory Firelight and was pleasantly surprised with the final result.

In just the second minute of the game, Ronald Nored, our starting PG and reigning Horizon League Defender of the Year, collided with a Siena defender and was taken out of the game to receive stitches. He would not return and is rumored to have sustained a concussion. Imagine if this had happened last year; who would have stepped up and defended star guard Clarence Jackson? Had this been last year, I would have chalked up the loss and immediately logged off of the computer. This however, is exactly why I am so encouraged by this year's team. Not only did Vanzant respond (he scored 12) but our entire bench stepped up when our normal starters were having off nights. In fact, Butler's bench outscored Siena 38-5 with huge contributions from Andrew Smith, Chase Stigall, and Garrett Butcher.

This type of contribution was exactly what was lacking in the earlier Louisville game. Say what you want about Louisville and how the environment was not welcoming to the visiting Bulldogs, but one cannot argue that Times Union Center is not just as hostile. Say what you want about Louisville and how their physical play took the Bulldogs out of our element, but take one look at Nored's eye and count the number of times players were on the ground tonight and one can see that Siena was just as physical as the Cardinals.

My point, is that Butler would not have beaten Siena tonight in New York if we had not gotten beat by Louisville last week. Not only was the loss an eye-opening event for fans and analysts alike, but it was also a time for the players and coaching staff to make an adjustment. Whether or not the hype and rankings were beginning to set in, we will never know, but it looks like Coach Stevens and the rest of the players have already responded.

We as fans should applaud the coaching staff who continue to schedule tough early games in November and December. Most of the major programs continue to schedule easy wins early in the season and may not find out that adjustments are needed until it is too late. Butler got the awakening it needed from Louisville and the remaining teams on the schedule should be worried.


  1. You lied. No way would you have turned off your computer last year if Ron went out with an injury.


  2. I think we would've beat Siena regardless of the loss to Louisville. We started off 8-4 last year, let's not forget. So did we NEED that loss, no. No one NEEDS a loss. But, was it a wake up call, yes.

  3. I think that a wake up call is a necessary part of a successful season. Not many teams can continue to play at a high level without having a wake-up call. Sometimes those wake up calls happen in March and by that time it is too late.

  4. I am pretty sure everyone knows that this was a wake up call/"needed loss" whatever you want to coin it.

    Do you think the Heat need a "wake up call".. "need a loss"

    I mean come on.. write some things that not everyone already knows or agrees on

  5. But isn't that what made John Madden famous? I would encourage you to read the other topics if this does not feed your desire.

    I think it is important to notice how a team adapts and reacts after such a "wake up call" and that is exactly what this blog is pointing out. If journalism did not include things that people already know, then statistics should never be reported either.

    Either way I appreciate your feedback.

  6. Good article. Two things though...

    1. If the Nored injury would have happened last year, we all know that Shawn Vanzant would be the likely player to come in and defend. His offense may not have been as good as this year, but his defense would have been more than adequate.

    2. Other than the Nored injury (which was an accident) I didn't think Siena played all that "physical." Most of their offense revolved around feeding Rossiter who is more of a finesse player than a physical presence down low.

    I agree it was a great game for our bench players who gained valuable experience and showed what they can do with extended minutes...