What to Expect: Butler

  • 12/18/2014 10:53 am in

After a week hiatus, Indiana returns to the floor following a week of final exams for a meeting with No. 23 Butler in the Crossroads Classic at Bankers Life Fieldhouse.

The game will tip at 2:30 p.m. ET and will be broadcast on Fox Sports 1:

Whether you’re a fan of the event or not, the Crossroads Classic returns for a fourth year on Saturday and will continue for the foreseeable future. Billed as a showcase of the state’s top four programs, Indiana, Butler, Purdue and Notre Dame come together each year for a day in late December in the state’s capital.

It’s an event that is heavily reliant on Indiana fans to sell tickets and the program’s long term involvement in such an arrangement raises some questions. Chief among them is the fact that Indiana’s participation in the Crossroads Classic forced the program to miss out on the CBS Sports Classic, which was formed with the goal of bringing together the four programs with the most national championships. With Indiana out, the event moved on to Ohio State and now the Buckeyes, North Carolina, Kentucky and UCLA will play a national showcase on CBS this weekend while Indiana takes a backseat on Fox Sports 1.

Nonetheless, the Crossroads Classic moves on as an event that feels stale, offers very little in terms of national buzz and puts the Hoosiers in a no-win situation. Win, like the program did in year one of the event over Notre Dame, and it’s ho hum. Lose, like the program has the last two years to Butler and Notre Dame, and it’s, “what’s wrong with Indiana?”

A LOOK AT BUTLER

After a disappointing 14-17 campaign, expectations for Butler coming into this season weren’t high. Second year coach Brandon Miller took a leave of absence prior to the season and with his return unlikely, the keys to the program have been handed over to Chris Holtmann, who is off to an 8-2 start and is making a solid case to become the permanent head man after Miller’s situation is formally resolved.

The Bulldogs are battle tested through 10 games with wins over North Carolina and Georgetown and losses to Oklahoma and most recently, a loss at Tennessee, which set the program back eight spots in the latest Associated Press top 25 poll.

Butler’s eight-man rotation is led by junior guard Kellen Dunham, who averages a team-high 16.8 points per game. Dunham is hitting 45.5 percent of his 3s and is doing a very good job of getting to the foul line, where he’s converting at an 87 percent clip. After failing to eclipse 35 percent shooting from distance in his first two seasons, Dunham finally seems to have found his groove and Butler is benefiting greatly as a result.

Joining Dunham in the backcourt are junior Roosevelt Jones, who missed last season with an injury, and senior Alex Barlow, who has transformed from a walk-on to a savvy floor general. Jones, powerful at 6-foot-4 and 227 pounds, is a solid distributor (30.3 percent assist rate) and essentially tries to bully his way to the bucket for easy looks. He’s not particularly efficient from the field (41.5 percent) or the foul line (60.9 percent), but his physicality could present problems for Indiana if the Hoosiers fail to match it. As for Barlow, he’s a pesky defender (4.7 percent steal rate), but isn’t much of a threat to score and when he does shoot, 65 percent of his attempts are 3s where he’s only hitting 30.8 percent.

Freshman Kelan Martin comes off the bench and is the team’s second leading scorer (10.8 ppg) and uses 29.9 percent of the team’s possessions while on the floor. Martin is making 59.1 percent of his 2s, but is making just 33.3 percent of his 3s.

Up front, senior Kameron Woods is Butler’s tallest player at 6-foot-9 and he’s complemented in the lineup by 6-foot-7 sophomore Andrew Chrabascz. Woods averages a team-high 9.1 rebounds per game and ranks as one of the top 30 defensive rebounders in the country according to KenPom.com. His length also allows him to challenge, alter and ultimately block a fair amount of shots (5.1 block percentage). His 49.1 shooting percentage on 2s isn’t particularly good for a player of his size and he checks in as an average free throw shooter (61.1 percent). Chrabascz is fourth on the team in scoring at 8.5 points per game, but isn’t particularly efficient (49.3 eFG%). He’s shooting less than 60 percent from the foul line and just 29.4 percent on 3s.

The frontcourt backups are junior Austin Etherington and freshman Tyler Wideman. Etherington, like he did in his time in Bloomington, has struggled from the perimeter (29.4 percent on 3s) while Wideman, who is 6-foot-8 and 245 pounds, can carve out space, is a solid defensive rebounder and finishes the opportunities he receives as he’s making 60 percent of his 2s.

TEMPO-FREE PREVIEW

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Indiana’s elite offense will receive a stiff test as Butler rolls out a top 20 defense nationally that has been limiting teams to just 25.6 percent shooting on 3s. The caveat on the 3-point defense is that the Bulldogs haven’t played a team ranked better than 153rd nationally in 3-point shooting and IU currently checks in at No. 11 nationally in that regard.

Turnovers will also loom large as both teams take care of the ball well, but Butler is doing a much better job of forcing turnovers than the Hoosiers. The same holds true for rebounding, where both clubs do a nice job of hitting the offensive glass, but the Bulldogs do a much better job of hitting the defensive boards.

As for where Butler is most effective offensively, here’s a scouting report from our friends at Shot Analytics:

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The right corner 3 is a strength of Dunham (67 percent), but he’s taking a much higher volume of his 3s from the right (43 percent) and left (42 percent) wings. It’ll be interesting to see how Indiana approaches this game defensively as a zone could be effective if Dunham is accounted for given that he’s the only player on the team making better than 33.3 percent from distance. That said, if Indiana can’t contain dribble penetration from guys like Dunham and Barlow, the defense deployed may not ultimately matter.

WHAT IT COMES DOWN TO

The Pomeroy prediction likes Butler by two with a 43 chance of an IU win while the Sagarin rating likes Butler by close to six.

Indiana’s game against Louisville should be helpful going into this one as Butler is physical on defense, but don’t have near the size or athleticism that IU saw against the Cardinals in Madison Square Garden. And given that Indiana put up 74 points on Louisville, the nation’s top ranked defense, limiting Butler on the glass and taking care of the ball will likely determine the outcome.

With just three games remaining prior to Big Ten play, this is a game that would help solidify Indiana’s chances at 10 non-conference wins and put the Hoosiers in the conversation as a potential NCAA tournament team. A loss would amp up the pressure for a win over Georgetown on Dec. 27 at Madison Square Garden and also mark the program’s third defeat in four tries at the Crossroads Classic.

Filed to:

  • Hoosier4life67

    OK, I have a question. I hear a lot of talk about how IU isn’t playing the CBS event because they have to play this cross roads classic. Why can’t they play both and just schedule the cross roads for another time on the schedule? Would help the OOC strengthening. As well as get some national notoriety from the CBS game.

  • Arch Puddington

    Your first two points made me laugh out loud, but not with humor. His emphasis on fatigue is maddening. Yes, players get tired, but it’s just not that big a factor. For all his determination to play fast, limit our players’ minutes, and wear other teams down, our opponents have had better second halves than first halves in 8 of our 10 games this year. Obviously there are a variety of factors in that, but if we were wearing teams down, it would show up on the scoreboard in one way or another. It doesn’t. I went back and looked at last year’s team, and the same thing was true in 12 of our 19 B1G games last year.

    We hear constantly how great our strength and conditioning program is, but if anything, we are the ones who get worn down by fatigue. And we have faded down the stretch of the last two seasons as well. I’m all in favor of well conditioned players, but as I have argued elsewhere, there just isn’t any real advantage to be had there. Conditioning is a commodity and all teams should be pretty much the same, particularly at the top level. We need better defense far more than we need conditioning, and not just this year. CTC has only had one team finish in the top 40 defensively since he got here; improving on that would do much more for us than trying to wear teams down.

  • CreanFaithful

    We’ll likely continue with predominately zone defense. I doubt screening will be the big issue. What Butler does with the space we typically forfeit playing zone and whether we can improve on the defensive glass will be the biggest factors IMO.

  • IULore

    That was designed to feed kaminsky the ball. A 2 wasn’t a bad thing there. What AE did wrong was foul him.

  • Michael Crawley

    This site is so negative lately it’s depressing. I hate to read the comments.

  • Candy Striped Kid

    just throwing this out there and i’m sure other people have said this but bottom line is i would much rather watch iu play kentucky, unc, and ucla and thats obvious. listen im from indy but now live in dc so for me, now, having a cross town rivalry is simply romanticizing indiana hoops at iu’s expense

    everyone can see the kenpom numbers, iu is last among the 4 but so what. just means there is room for improvement!

    and lets be honest i am sick of watching iu butler or iu notre dame. no offense, great programs and coaches but c’mon they are not on iu’s level. couldnt we all agree having like a kansas or lousiville fill that bill better?

    most obvious post ever

  • IUMIKE1

    Couldn’t agree more. I’m an IU fan. Couldn’t agree more.

    Repeat

    Damn upvote button, I just got it to work and then it quit working after using it just one single time. lol

  • HoosierHuckleberry

    I would submit to Alex & others who share his views that 17-15 seasons (and recent off-court problems) do more to hurt our visibility on the national level than playing in this Classic. If IU’s record in the event was better than 1-2, we might have some basis to question the value of the event and the level of competition…but the other schools could say the same because of our presence in it.

  • HoosierHuckleberry

    I can just imagine how many big men would put us on their list after watching us jack up 3’s w/an occasional nod to the post for an alley oop.

  • tcdtcd

    “but c’mon they are not on iu’s level”
    really? Butler’s been the better program by far the last 15 years. IU is not the IU of the 70s and 80s. Face it.

  • tcdtcd

    IU won’t schedule home/home with Butler, given Butler’s dominant record over IU the last 10-15 years. Period.

  • HoosierHuckleberry

    Kansas has been to the Dance every year since 1990, NCAA Champs in 2008, won the Big 12 Regular season championship every year since 2005, won the Conference tourney in 2006,7,8,10,11 & 13. Yeah, we’re about even with them…in 1 category.

  • HoosierHuckleberry

    If Louisville doesn’t beat them, next best hope is for either LSU, Florida, Tennessee or Alabama to end UK’s unbeaten season when the Cats visit their arenas.

  • GatewayHoosier

    Oh, HH…

    I am under no illusion that we are even with Kansas and never said we were. I guess I can see how what I wrote could be interpreted that way, especially if someone was actively hunting for rogue optimists. I only mentioned KU because they happen to be the school tied with us in a stat that was directly relevant to the idea that IU never beats elite schools.

    IU is not elite right now. I hope we will be soon. For now, I’m intrigued by this team and see room for growth. Forgive me if I don’t join you in your self-flagellation. Go Hoosiers.

  • HoosierHuckleberry

    Can you cite a “brilliant” TC moment?

  • HoosierHuckleberry

    I wasn’t hunting for an opportunity to respond to a rogue optimist… TC’s record against Top 25 teams is commendable, to be sure. It’s his record against the #26-75 teams that is in need of considerable improvement. STAT.
    I thought that I had a fairly good grasp of linguistic semantics, but I don’t quite understand your comment about “not joining me in my self-flagellation”. Per the American Heritage Dictionary: 1. The act of severely criticizing oneself. 2. The act of punishing oneself. I did neither in my posts.

  • Bk39

    IU a has JA 7 ft, TP and HP at 6-9, MH 6-8 or 6-9, EH, TW at 6-7( NR and RB at 6-7) , IU is as tall or taller than Valpo.

  • srhise

    I love this event, it’s the sporting event I look forward to most each year. Just win baby.

  • srhise

    i forgot he was on the bench. sheesh.

  • Eastwood88_2

    Great a couple of nc games in the last 15 years compared to iu one. I always find it funny when the Butler fans call them clearly better. They played in the horizon for a decade with no challenge. What an advantage not playing in a REAL conference. Team is not beaten when the tourney starts. They finally do and get smoked. This game offers nothing for iu. Win, and should. Lose and why?

  • Eastwood88_2

    What is your source?

  • Eastwood88_2

    Smart comment, didn’t consider that

  • The dates for the Crossroads Classic are established years in advance. The CBS Sports Classic shared the same date for its first year and thus, IU couldn’t participate since it was already locked into the Crossroads.

  • 5_Banners

    Join the forum….you actually get reasoned responses about the team.

  • Brian Goodman

    We always have more fans there than the other 3 schools combined.

  • ForeverIU

    Fantastic! That’s good to know. Go Hoosiers!

  • INUnivHoosier

    The “Wat Shot” was pretty good. Trailing forward shooting a game-winning 3 off a fake drive to tie the game.

  • INUnivHoosier

    15 years (2000-2014)

    9 NCAA tournament appearances (both squads)
    1 Runner Up (IU) vs. 2 Runner ups (BU)
    2 Sweet Sixteen finishes (tie)

    You can’t even compare their conferences. IU would have beaten up on the Horizon League most of the last 15 years.

  • IUBizmark

    I don’t think Tom’s strategy was to let the other team score two points. Sometimes I do wonder though. If I remember correctly, Vonleh was on the bench that play too. No?

  • INUnivHoosier

    I see this as a good tournament to be involved in. It gives local fans a chance to come out and support local teams. Do you want to be involved in the CBS tourney? Sure, but you can’t hold off planning in case you are invited to one of these events. We have ample opportunity in November and December to schedule strong OOC opponents. This is our opportunity to play some good in-state competition when a lot of people have free time to spend with family and see some local talent play.

    I don’t see how you could be against this. I really don’t.

  • INUnivHoosier

    I wouldn’t schedule a home/home with Butler because their fieldhouse is 20 minutes away from a fieldhouse with 8,000 more seats that is open to hosting games, and 1 hour from Indiana’s arena that seats 7,000 more fans.

  • Oldguyy

    Pomeroy tracks lineups, and not a single one of the ten most-used lineups in the last five games had four guards. So much for your confidence.

  • INUnivHoosier

    Butler plays a similar sized lineup to start (and gets smaller with Etherington) – why would we chance putting our two most serviceable bigs in foul trouble to experiment in a game that isn’t a lock?

  • INUnivHoosier

    I believe that self, in this instance, would be referring to you as a part of the IU fanbase.

    I could be wrong, though.

  • drewmiller1

    I agree.

  • INUnivHoosier

    I’m not sure that you can say that someone who plays well in one game has “blossomed.”

    Tom Pritchard started his career with back-to-back double doubles. Was he a blossoming flower?

    I believe Fischer is going to do well in his career, and I hope he does because he seems like a good kid. I think it’s a bit early to start talking about him like a guy that is really turning a corner.

  • drewmiller1

    Kenpom rankings are:
    #34 Notre Dame
    #36 Butler
    #49 Purdue
    #51 Indiana
    You should be excited to see these games.

  • iuoiu

    If we would have caved and let UK play us in Indy it would have fell right into UKs blueprint – get the best of the best and tell them that they’ll play big NEUTRAL court games pre-conf, avoiding those “messy” true road games then slide on in to traditionally the worst hoops conference of the majors. Remember, it’s UK that backed out after their attempts to change the home at home series with IU failed.

  • Max

    Dear CTC,
    Read this article and learn from it. If you have two top-5 recruits, you’ll probably beat a less talented team.

  • Oregoniu

    So from one old guy, me, to you Oldguyy, should we consider TW a guard or a wing/forward? CTC has said in his system, position designations 1,2,3,4,5 mean nothing. CTC wants players who are flexible and it seems to me when TW is on the floor, the way he plays, we are playing with 4 guards regardless of what the roster indicates; therefore Pomeroy’s tracking results relies on the roster designations and may not be a true reflection of what we see.

  • HoosierHuckleberry

    That thesis probably would have passed the litmus test back in the days before the BTN, SECTV, ESPN, FoxSports, NBC, CBS, ABC and internet coverage/highlights of nation-wide games was available. Unless a recruit lives in a total information vacuum, he can literally watch most any of the Top 25-50 teams when they play key games. I don’t believe that holding a rivalry game in Indy, Chicago, NO, NYC, Maui, Anchorage, the Bahamas, Puerto Rico, the moon or any other venue is going to be THE key element in his ultimate choice of schools.

  • HoosierHuckleberry

    That was a staple in the IU playbook…don’t recall TC calling a timeout to specifically design that play. Props to Verdell for setting Watford up, though!

  • Oregoniu

    Would have playing EH with HMP against Eastern Washington ,when they were waltzing through the line, been an experiment? IU needs interior defense so I don’t understand why CTC has frontcourt players he won’t play. IMHO, on this year’s squad EH is not and ‘experiment’ he is needed.

  • INUnivHoosier

    Don’t have to call a timeout to call a play. Props to CTC for calling the play that won the game!

  • INUnivHoosier

    I’ve advocated for them to try it out multiple times; however, I like the matchups we have against Butler without Holt and Perea playing at the same time. I think our perimeter defense will be a problem, which neither will help with.

  • Oregoniu

    I understand your concern, but offenses have been beating our guards, mostly off the dribble, all year long and we have no interior defense to back them because IU won’t give up a foul. Our guards do not do well, most of the time, contesting the 3ball either.

  • HoosierHuckleberry

    Could be wrong??? Labelling that part of the IU fan base who criticize what TC has done with our BB program as self-flagellates is an egregious malapropism. I invite you to go back and re-read recent posts from those who don’t automatically start waving their crimson & cream pom poms every time TC’s name is brought up in a post. You may even observe that many of those posts also offer suggestions on ways to change the focus/direction of him and his staff. While none of us have the ability to actually impact what TC does in any facet of the overall program, this forum does afford us an opportunity to voice and share opinions. Applying deleterious labels to those w/whom you have a difference of opinion/perspective is a bit narrow-minded, but if that’s the best you’ve got to offer, I can deal with it.

  • INUnivHoosier

    You are taking my comment out of context. I was saying that I believe GatewayHoosier was using “self-flagellation” in the context of you being a part of a body (the IU family) and criticizing that body. You seemed to be saying that you didn’t understand the use of the word, as you weren’t criticizing yourself.

    So, yeah, I could be wrong about his intended meaning.

    Additionally, I’m curious what the word that sounds like “self-flagellates” is that would be appropriate for the situation?

  • INUnivHoosier

    You think IU is likely to be more willing to give up a foul with Holt and Perea on the floor at the same time?

    Like I said, I’m interested in seeing the on-court dynamic when Perea and Holt are in the game. I don’t think that is necessary in this game, because we don’t really give up any size. It is an experiment, because I doubt the two are put together in practice, and they sure haven’t been playing together in any games. Holt isn’t an experiment; the combo is an experiment (just wanted to clarify that).

  • IUMIKE1

    And is an opinion that I just so happen to share.