Butler’s Stevens impressed by Hoosiers

  • 11/28/2011 11:25 am in

It appears to be a down year for Butler basketball.

After losing to Northern State in an exhibition game and Evansville early in the regular season, it’s easy to see this isn’t the same Bulldog team that made back-to-back runs to the national title game.

But Butler coach Brad Stevens knows good basketball when he sees it. His Bulldogs faced the likes of Syracuse, Michigan State, Duke, Connecticut and others in the last two NCAA Tournaments.

What Indiana did to Butler in its 75-59 win Sunday night, Stevens said, was good basketball.

“They do a good job. They’ve got a nice team,” he said. “[Jordan] Hulls is a really good player, probably as undervalued as anybody that I’ve seen. He understands the game, he makes people better, he makes the right decisions at the right time and just generally controls the game.

“And then obviously they’ve got a bunch of talented scorers. When [Will] Sheehey and those guys are shooting it like they shot it tonight, that’s a hard team to beat.”

THE SIXTH MAN

Sheehey led the Hoosiers with a career-high 21 points on 5-of-8 shooting, and he came off the bench. After Sheehey drew the Bulldogs outside with his 3-point shooting, he used shot fakes to get open mid-range looks.

Hulls also hit two 3-pointers, and Matt Roth came off the bench to knock down a big 3 early in the second half.

“When those guys get going, that’s what they do well,” Stevens said. “They shoot it, and when they feel good, they really shoot it.”

PRITCHARD

The scary thing is the Hoosiers didn’t actually shoot it very well for much of the game. They made only 8-of-25 shots in the first half and shot just 40 percent for the game.

They made up for it with hustle plays – several of which came from the sparingly used Tom Pritchard.

“I was talking to our guys about how much I appreciated Pritchard,” Stevens said. “Pritchard got on the floor a couple times for loose balls and did really hard things. He’s a guy that doesn’t play anymore versus what he used to do. I appreciate that because there’s been a lot of tough things that that kid’s been through. Now he’s really embracing his role and doing a good job.”

Pritchard played only nine minutes, didn’t take a shot, record a point or a rebound, but he made the most of his time on the court with two steals. He even had the student section chanting his name at one point.

“There were definitely a lot of hustle plays, like coach said, Pritchard diving on the ball when we could have got on the ball,” said Butler forward Khyle Marshall, who had 16 points.

FIRST TEST FOR ZELLER

Indiana freshman Cody Zeller had his way against the first five opponents this season. He scored when he wanted to, rarely missed a shot, and appeared to intimidate the opposition.

That changed Sunday night. Butler’s Andrew Smith provided the first legitimate inside matchup for Zeller, and the Washington, Ind. native struggled early.

But Zeller didn’t let it bother him. He found his rhythm in the second half and still finished with 16 points and eight rebounds.

“He’s a good player. He’s a really good player,” Stevens said. “He’s a guy that can score around the rim, he can shoot it. Even though he shot the one short, he can really shoot.

“I think he’s probably as unselfish a guy as you can have. To have a star come in and be unselfish is a really important thing. If he wasn’t that way, it wouldn’t be as easy for them to want to go to him all the time.”

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  • Anonymous

    Yes, I was really impressed by Steven’s comments. 

    More importantly, I was thrilled with our play.  For once countered some adversity (poor shooting, a hot Hopkins who played out of his mind, and terrible referees) and we were able to overcome and win handily.  We showed mental toughness, maturity and physically toughness, which good teams need to win on a consistent basis.  Part of why I am so optimistic is b/c of how this team appears to be on the same page, unselfish, tough, defensive-minded and player led.

    2 favorite parts of the game was when Will Sheehey dove to save that ball in the first half.  Second favorite was when after CWat failed to rebound on a free throw, his man got the rebound and then was fouled to go back to the line, Sheehey went over and tried to push CWat out of the way so he could get the rebound.  CWat got mad and pushed him back.  Sheehey’s response?  You could see him yelling at CWat and telling him if you don’t do it, I will.  THAT IS WHAT WE HAVE NEEDED.

    By the way, on the whole referee thing.  Never in my life have I seen a charge called when a defender is in the air (Verdell in first half against Andrew Smith) – NEVER.  In all my years of playing and watching hoops, that is a first.  I have no idea how that is possible.  Follow that up a few plays later when Oladipo gets called for a loose ball foul when he was the one with the inside track on the ball (he got the ball) – Again, should have been a foul on Smith.

    Our Hoosiers showed toughness, played consistent, played confident, and showed the strength of a well-rounded team.  Bring on NC State!

  • Anonymous

    Here here!

  • Anonymous

    Stevens sure is an easy guy to like. Wins with less then optimal talent, his teams play very hard and (usually) fundamentally sound, gracious in defeat. Quality guy, NCAA could use about 150 more of him to replace the Caliparis, Pitinos & Calhouns of the world……

    As for IU, there was a LOT to complain about last night: CW, VJ3 & DE all played poorly, officials were awful, terrible shooting/missed layups…..and yet IU won pretty easily against a quality opponent. I love it.

  • Only a matter of time before Sheehey starts, IMO. Verdell is much more suited for 6th man play with his midrange game and somewhat viable ball handling skills.

  • The_Real_Assembly_Hall

    I respect his opinions and couldn’t disagree one bit.  It was kind of bittersweet watching Indiana beat Stevens, Lewis, and Butler last night.  I pulled so hard for Butler in the tourney the last two years because they more so than any program in Indiana resemble Indiana. It could actually be said (with pride) that during Indiana’s time of turmoil, Butler carried the torch for basketball tradition in the state of Indiana. They carried it well.  Last night Indiana took the torch back and took the state back.  I am not even going to mention what PUke means to the state, because it isn’t worth mentioning when it comes to basketball.  As far as Stevens, he is a great young coach, class guy, and I fully expect him to win a couple national titles. Maybe even at Butler…….Tons of respect to them from me, I just wish they would quick hacking.  Then again Michael Lewis is on the bench so I think we know where that is headed, lol.

  • stonaroni

    Any one look at Smith’s stat line?  That is the impact CZ has on this team.  The scoring is nice, but we have someone who can hold the opposing C under 10 pts and keep them from dominating the boards.

    Once we get some guards who can feed the post more often, CZ will be even more impressive and more of a match up weapon.

  • stonaroni

    Also, the picture above of Sheehey is impressive.  At 6’6″ that kind of ups on a pull up jumper from 17 feet is damn near perfection and cannot be defended.

  • Anonymous

    haha, yeah – Lewis is in the background with his mouth hanging open and thinking, “yep, I couldn’t guard that.  Hopefully he makes it and IU continues to represent the program I knew when I played here…” 

  • stonaroni

    Didn’t DE take 1 shot?  He also played solid D in 14 minutes with 2 reb, 1 steal and an assist.  Leave him out of the VJIII and CW discussion.  Those two were awful.

  • Anonymous

    I’m not sticking up for the refereeing – it was pretty poor all night – but the offensive foul called on Verdell was a good call.  Smith went straight up and Verdell pushed him off with his with his off arm (the one without the ball).  It wasn’t a charge, it was a push off, and I’ve seen the same call made many times before.

  • MillaRed

    So……with the few votes received in the coaches poll, IU would be #38 in the country today. Hey, it’s a start!

  • stonaroni

    Yes you are correct, and chances are that Smith doesn’t make contact with VJIII if Verdell didn’t stick his elbow into Smith.  VJIII fell down like he had been shot, but the contact was initiated by VJIII.

  • stonaroni

    Just saw the AP vote, 0 votes for IU.  I love it.  Cincinnati is ranked #31 and are 3-2 with loses to Marshall and Presbyterian.

    Good to see that the voters are realizing the Purdue is a bunch of posers this year with no inside game.

    I like IU being under the radar, I think it will motivate this team.

  • Anonymous

    You know what the best part is about VJ3 and CW struggling? IU is still winning games handily. CTC at the moment can afford to keep VJ3 and CW in the lineup receiving significant playing time allowing them to work out their struggles in real games. This will only benefit them down the road. They need to start showing signs of improvement though to justify keeping them in the lineup.

    That being said, I still think you have to start VJ3 and CW over DE and WS. The energy and effort that DE and WS bring is much more suited as a change of pace off the bench than in the starting lineup when you have VO and CZ bringing that same style in the starting lineup. I think with either VJ3 or CW coming off the bench, that hurts the style of play and energy that CTC wants to play with and he can overcome their current deficiencies with CZ, JH, VO on the court with them than say DM, MR, TP out there with them.

  • JerryCT

    OK we beat Butler in a tough game. We were their size or bigger at about every position.

    NC State can put some overall size with quickness on the floor but only one guy, a sub at 7’1 the size of Zeller. Can we defend them ?

    I am thinking we start with the following matchups if they do not start Johnson:

    Jones vs Wood ( 6′-6)
    Watford vs Leslie ( 6′-8 )
    Zeller vs Painter ( 6′-9 ) or Howell ( 6′-8 )
    Oladipo vs Brown ( 6′-5 )
     Hulls vs Williams ( 6′-5 )

    Like us they have 6-7 players who can score in double figures . We will have our hands full, especially Hulls and Watford. If we can get this one on the road we deserve some top 25 votes

  • Anonymous

    Totally agree….CW was awful trying to force things….the whole team – WS was a step slow all night..rebounding was just tragic…The hunger they showed in the 1st 5 games was not there last night and they beat an average team by 16….If they would just play with that chip on their shoulder that hunger the whole season,This could be a very good team

  • The_Real_Assembly_Hall

    Me too.  I still believe if Indiana wins the next 2 they will be ranked in the AP going into a matchup with Kentucky on CBS.  I like being the unranked team  until Indiana proves that winning this year is not just a wish.  Lots of expectations come with being ranked.  None of the guys on this team have felt that kind of pressure except for in high school. Lack of ranking is fine for now.

  • The_Real_Assembly_Hall

    It is nice to be even talking about rankings again.  Whether we are justified to be remains to be seen, but the weight on the shoulders keeps getting lighter and lighter. 

  • HoosierDadE

    Love these two comments…

    Lewis was a true distributer of the ball but he sure couldn’t jump like White Will!

  • The_Real_Assembly_Hall

    I counted 37th though.

    ESPN/USAToday Rankings for Big Ten teams with points:

    2.     Ohio State    (748)
    7.     Wisconsin    (530)
    15.    Michigan      (310)
    30.    PUke            (25)
    31.    Northwestern  (23)
    35.    Michigan St     (8)
    36.    Illinois             (7)
    37.    Indiana            (3)

    Looks like 8th best in the conference is still holding true, but atleast the gap is closing.

  • MillaRed

    Even better.

    Mbakwe out for the year. Ouch.

  • MillaRed

    I think Smith got all ball anyway. It just looked bad.

  • Aceman_Mujezinovic_07

    And the block call on Hulls when he looked like he was there waiting for two steps!  It’s Assembly Hall it’s high time we start getting some calls around this joint again!  CTC is too classy to get tossed or T’d up so maybe the student section needs to put a bit more effort into booing the officials when they’re crap like they were last night!

  • Aceman_Mujezinovic_07

    I completely disagree.  I think this was a quality opponent who, you just watch, will end up in the dance again and probably make at least a little noise.  The team was on the floor diving, scrapping, kicking, hitting, and even biting if that’s what it took to get loose balls and I was extremely happy with the effort.  The offensive was a little weaker, with the poor shooting and some forced 1-on-1 NBA efforts from CWat, but you don’t hold a good team to 59 points and force them into 21 TO’s (twice their average by the way) with a poor effort or less ‘hunger’. 

    There was a lot to improve on, but overall I was pleasantly surprised with how IU competed last night. 

  • Aceman_Mujezinovic_07

    Here’s the thing though . . . the past three years and even last year IU would have struggled getting past 50 on a team like Butler with that physical style of play.  This year we just put up 75 and held them to 59.  That’s a pretty good game even with the poor shooting and occasional 1-on-1 crap (which was mostly Watford!!!).

    We made 7 more FT’s than they even attempted and only committed 4 fewer fouls!!!  That is huge!  In the past couple years IU was a foul machine, especially in physical games like this.  For us to hit 29-36 from the line while only allowing 22 attempts is impressive.  I think that’s a stat that isn’t getting enough attention in these discussions.  That’s what good teams do to teams they are better than!  Another stat that is impressive is that Butler rode and hounded IU with physical defense in the first half to 32% shooting!  Butler shot 36.7%.  In the second half IU was able to overcome the physical play and shoot 50% (18% improvement!!!) while Butler only jumped up 3.3% to 40%.  That means that IU made adjustments at the half offensively and continued to play their game on the defensive end.  Just imagine what last year’s team would’ve done in a similar game?  You don’t have to think hard because there were plenty of games like that last year where we faded in the second half and even gave up decent leads!

    CWat played less in the second half and I think that was part of CTC’s adjustment.  He recognized early in the second half that CWat wasn’t hitting and also wasn’t playing within the offense so he went with guys who would.  Even Jones (as poorly as he played) didn’t force shots last night and was content to let Hulls, Sheehey, VO, and Zeller do the scoring. 

    Overall, a slightly better than good win in my opinion.

  • Anonymous

    Butler under Stevens has always managed to improve markedly during the season.  If you go back two years to the team that ended up playing Duke in the title game, they were 8-4 at one point early on, and didn’t lose from that point until they played Duke.

    Last year it was even more pronounced, as they lost to Evansville early (foreshadowing for this season), some other decent teams, and then lost a few in conference.  They were 14-9, and then didn’t lose a game until they lost to UConn.

    What I’m saying is, if you look at their track record under Stevens especially, this win will look even better at the end of the year than it does now.  They’re obviously not nearly as talented without Howard/Mack/Hayward, but they’ll still figure things out and get better.  

  • So_Cal_Hoosier

    Brad Stevens, classy guy.

  • So_Cal_Hoosier

    Ken Pomeroy has us at #20. Too bad it’s just KenPom and not AP… But still. 

  • Anonymous

    The only way Butler makes any noise at the dance is if their band goes because their basketball team won’t be there. To say( forced1-on-1) NBA efforts (lol) from CWat and then ( there was a lot to improve on) Doesn’t sound like complete disagreement. Strange statements.

  • ldiu

    Totally agree.  DE was ok, but the CW and  VJ were not good at all.

  • Aceman_Mujezinovic_07

    Sorry, should’ve clarified.  The only point I disagreed on was the ‘lack of hunger’ thing and that their rebounding was tragic.  I actually thought they rebounded pretty well considering how physical the game was.  We ou-trebounded them by two and Butler has some size and athleticism with Marshall and Smith.  The stuff about Watford forcing shots was right on the money.  I didn’t think the team was lacking any effort or was slow on D.  They actually played good defensively and I don’t think that can be argued when they held their opponent under 40% for the game and turned them over at twice their average rate!

  • stonaroni

    Yes, that Hulls call was bad, he was planted before contact, outside the circle to boot.

    CTC needs to be a salesman to the officials and sell them his class and optimism.  The officials are fans too and get caught up in the “pile on Indiana” media outlets and personalities.  The officials always respected Knight for his wins, the cleanliness of the program and his basketball omniscience.  Davis begged for fouls and Sampson was just a turd for what he did to the program.

    CTC is still earning his candy stripes 34-99 isn’t a good record, but a 20 win season helps change the minds of the officials.

  • Anonymous

    Butler alum, don’t like to troll but I love all IN teams (as long as they’re not playing each other) and just wanted to congratulate you guys on the win last night.  The better team at this point in the season clearly won last night. (still holding out our team can improve significantly but skeptical) Hopefully, we’re both dancing at the end of the year and not playing in the NIT.

    I’d also like to talk about how excited I am for next year’s match up.  Now I’m not a die hard Hoosier follower but I do think I’m an above average follower and know a little bit about bball. Forewarning, no one knows what the IU or Butler lineup will be next year, so I’ll do my best to pair everyone up.  I think the match ups are more interesting than to argue about who starts.  Zeller/Smith round 2: Cody will have experience, muscle mass, & will be preseason all-B1G. Smith will hopefully realize 3 pter’s are not part of his game and improve a little on his post game.  Marshall vs CWatt/Perea: as Marshall’s bball knowledge continues to progress & if his jumper improves, he will be a beast & not just in the Horizon.  After last game, idk about CWatt. He could have a solid yr this yr (like 2nd/3rd team all B1G) and come in w a ton of confidence next year or he could go off the reservation and transfer/turn pro bc he realizes he’s not “the guy” anymore (IMO from what I’ve seen this yr, his draft potential peaked last year).  Perea not sure how much of an impact he’ll have that early in the season, he’ll just have a few dunks, rebs, and blocks.  Aldridge vs Hulls/Yogi: Aldridge will be solid but he’s not really going to be able to take adv of Hulls slow feet or Yogi’s height.  Jordy will still be a sniper and maybe by this point in his career he’ll actually get to the ft line more.  Honestly, just gotta hope Yogi has an off night and plays like a frosh bc if his jumper is falling; uh oh. If not, he’ll just look to find other ppl.  The 2 & 3’s are just going to have to be lumped.  For Butler: Clarke, Hopkins, Smeathers, Dunham, Stigall vs VO, Sheehey, Hollowell, Buss. Assuming you don’t start 2 PGs, this is a nightmare for Butler length wise.  Clarke & Dunham are 3 pt assassins and Smeathers is good too but not great like the aforementioned. If Hopkins adds weight and develops like some of Brad’s previous players, he’s Brad’s next NBA draft pick.  You saw what he did in the first half.  Stigall = wildcard: needs to shoot more consistently. For IU: if VO can get to 35%+ range from 3, then I don’t see Buss getting major min until his Jr year.  If Sheehey improves half as much as he did this season, instead of being a guy who could go for 20 every night, he’ll probably avg around 15 a night.  Hollowell will come in and score but whether he’ll play college defense after being “the man” will determine his PT.  As for the rest of the players, Butler: Woods, Jones, Fromm, Morgan & CHD  IU: Elston, Abell, Etherington, Jurkin.  Woods: poor man”s hakim warrick, except has hit a few 3’s this year but obviously needs to put on weight and mature (got suspended a game for skipping class). Jones: Willie Veasely 2.0 (undersized PF from 1st F4 team), needs to increase range. Fromm: might be a lost cause Butler fans have yet to see his great supposed outside shot and still needs to add muscle.  Morgan & CHD are freshman. Doubt Morgan plays CHD might bc of lack of PG depth and it will be a learning experience.  For IU: Elston = wildcard. Most likely he’ll get some min btw the 4 person rotation at the 4 & 5. If he got his 15/17 ft jumper down, that would definitely get him on the court a lot more.  Abell: he’ll make a contribution as an upperclassman but IMO not now. Jurkin: prep school? Bawa? Guy-Michel? (sorry j/k). Etherington: no way he gets in front of the wings you have but thanks for but thanks for being the 2nd best recruiter in IN. 

    Wow, sorry for the long post! I should probably should get back to work. Thank God it’s bball season. Again great game last night and good luck the rest of the year. Love to read some of comments but want be posting anymore until we meet again.

  • stonaroni

    No way.  This is a great win.  We played a team with an engrained style to defensively challenge their opponent on every possession.  2 starters played like crap but adjustments were made throughout the game and certain players stepped up.  That is what good teams do to win and that is what good teams do to other teams that are good. What makes it great is IU persevered and this team showed it is versatile.  We can run and score 95 or we can bang and scratch and still win.

  • stonaroni

    Purdue will fall like a rock.  Michigan will too if they do not get a post presence.  The jury is out on Ill as they are young, I think we finish Big 10 at #5 in conference.

  • stonaroni

    Very true on the votes.  To me this is a conference game because there is height, athleticism and depth.  All players will have to play solid games and I want to see our team maximize our half court possessions and move the ball.

  • Aceman_Mujezinovic_07

    Hey stonaroni . . . were you just agreeing with me?  Cause that didn’t always happen last year!  HA – we are starting the year off on a good note . . . agreeing a lot more than disagreeing.  You must have gotten smarter.  HA – just kidding. 

    Anyway, yes, this was a very good win.  I completely agree it wasn’t just a good win like bluengray said.  It was more than a good win but I was trying to leave some room for improvement.  Can’t shoot the whole wad on one game. 

    Absolutely correct that IU persevered and showed versatility.  They didn’t allow Butler to dictate the game in the second half and had their way with them at the FT line.  Those are both VERY large improvements over last year.  I don’t think this team is anywhere near the same team as last, except for VJ and CW at this point . . . they need to adjust their roles and play with the team. 

  • Plane1972

    Lewis had the heart of a lion. Loved that dude and the teams he played on.

  • Aceman_Mujezinovic_07

    I agree.  I think IU is 5th-6th in the conference.  Definitely better than NW at this point (watched them the other night) and probably better than Illi’whine’i as well.  Easily better than PSU, Neb, Iowa, and Minnesota.  At this point maybe we are content for 8th best team with room to climb the list as the year goes on.  I could see IU ending up as high as 4th in the Big Ten if they keep improving and don’t take steps backwards. 

    I’m not sure how good MSU is after watching them play a couple times.  I also think PUke is overrated.  I could see it going like this (only possible – not a prediction):

    1.  OSU
    2 & 3.  MICH & WISC
    4.  IU
    5.  MSU
    6.  PUke
    7.  NW
    8.  ILL
    9.  NEB (don’t know why but I thought they looked decent when I watched them last week)
    10.  Iowa
    11.  Minn
    12.  PSU

  • stonaroni

    This is also a game that VJIII has to step up, his height could help create a better mismatch if Hulls struggles or gets abused on D.  Plus, a game like this, we will need some 3’s from Hulls and VJIII will need to run the point for that.

  • Anonymous

    I wasn’t that disappointed last night with Verdell’s play.  Sure he dribbles with his head down and shoulder pointed out looking for an offensive foul to be called but at least he was taking what he was given and even took a few shots that normally would have gone down. 

    IMHO the only guy that doesn’t seem to get it yet is CW.  I hope he gets it soon or maybe we need to play a 4 guard lineup with Sheehey starting in his place.  Marquette used to do it when Crean was there and several top teams are doing it now.  The Center title has lost its luster and everyone wants to be called a Forward these days.  Cody is our guy down low but he’s a Forward (Looks a lot like a center to me but if a Forward title makes him happy then so be it).

  • Plane1972

    It will be impossible for them to remain unranked much longer if they keep playing like this, but the Most Interesting Man in the World said it best, “Stay thirsty, my friends.”

    We certainly don’t want too much too early for this squad. Let them earn their stripes and they will be battle-tested for the conference schedule.

  • Anonymous

    Pomeroy for President.

  • Bleeding Crimson

    I have to admit Brad is a class act and gets the most out of his kids.  It’s always good go see Indiana schools succeed just not past us and PUke.

  • Bleeding Crimson

    Did anyone else noticed that most of the shots in the first half were all short.  I think maybe CTC worked there @$$ off prior more than just the jitters.

  • Bleeding Crimson

    Do we use all B1G officials during preseason at home?

  • Bleeding Crimson

    The FT shooting stat is where we are going to win most of our games this year.
    We still would not have won without Sheehey on the floor, he has earned his starting lineup.

  • Anonymous

    If IU can beat NC State Wednesday I could see us slipping into the top 25 or at least getting a considerable amount of votes.

  • Bleeding Crimson

    I looked at this earlier but IU wasn’t listed so Thanks for posting this.  This is another reason why this is the greatest basketball blog.
    When you look at it I don’t see us getting ranked regardless of wins until B1G play.  I understand we are close to bottom teams but getting into the Top 25 will require more meaningful wins and the only one is pUKe.  Even that win would not put us in the top 25 AT THIS STAGE.

  • Bleeding Crimson

    WOW, if we finished 4th what a turn around and coach of the year for CTC.