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Butler Exhibition Takeaways

Butler has concluded both of their exhibition games, knocking off both Ohio Northern and Franklin University. With just days away before we see the real thing, here are some things I took away from these games.

I took the cover image from this, for what it's worth.

Landon Moore

Landon Moore was the biggest standout to me. I thought he controlled the game really well. His Basketball IQ is clearly very high, he was seeing these games multiple passes ahead and knew exactly what spots to get to and what to do from there. He was driving the lane very aggressively and the units with him and Finley Bizjack playing looked very solid, albeit against weaker competition.

Across these two games, Moore finished with eight assists to just one turnover. He was a steady presence with the ball and really let the game come to him. His jumper wasn’t falling in the second game, but I’m not worried about that at all. I know he’s a solid jump shooter and if he can keep up this level of steadiness and playmaking across the season, the future is bright for these Butler Bulldogs.

New Look Offense

There are some things that are really tough to explain without some sort of video, but man the offense looks so much cleaner so far. Now, how much of that is due to the lack of size/athleticism of the opposing defense making it easier to run these sets remains to be seen, but it looked so much cleaner. The screens set for off-ball shooters, the three-man game, the ball movement, the floor spacing, all of it looked so much better.

Last year the offense looked good in these games, but it’s different. Last year they were playing much faster and blitzing these teams in transition in these games. Here it was much more about some very pretty halfcourt sets generating open looks. Not only that, but this team has guys who can take you off the dribble and attack the basket. That was a look that Butler just flat-out didn’t have last season, so seeing the aggression from multiple guys in getting to the cup was a positive, to be certain. Let’s hope that sticks throughout the season.

Connor Turnbull

I had no idea he had this kind of bounce in him. Absolutely no idea. Not only that, but he is in much better shape and isn’t gassing out after three minutes on the court.

Now, part of the reason he would gas out certainly was going up against bigger and stronger guys than he, which he wasn’t doing, but man the signs are there that he’s in much better shape, and those dunks absolutely speak for themselves.

To throw a bit of cold water on the Turnbull hype, he’s clearly shown us that he’s got much improved vertical athleticism, but we haven’t seen him tested laterally in ball screens against quicker guys, or didn’t see him even try to post up these much smaller guards but once.

He’s clearly a different guy than we saw last season. He’s in much, much better shape. I just don’t want to don him the new King of the Big East until we see the full package against some legitimate competition. But make no mistake, he looks leaps and bounds better than he did last season and deserves credit for that work.


The main note that I wrote for myself in anticipation of this piece from the Franklin game was “POOR CLOSEOUTS” underlined three times. Guys were closing out late and sometimes when they were on time, they closed out very sloppily and got attacked off the bounce. Ohio Northern was not able to attack this, except for a couple of backdoor cuts, but Franklin was. Franklin got their shooters some wide-open looks off of miscommunications and was aggressively attacking the Butler defense.

Then the U4 timeout (I don’t know if I’ve explained this, but in college basketball, each half has four timeouts, the Under 16, Under 12, Under 8 and Under 4, where the first dead ball at that time results in an official TV Timeout) of the first half came, and Butler ramped up the pressure and the defense looked night and day. Franklin had 32 points in those first 16 minutes and 22 points in the next 24 minutes.

How much of that was just a pure size + athleticism advantage and how much was the guys just locking in and looking much better the more aggressively they got remains to be seen, but I will be looking intently to see how the defense looks in the first few games of the season.


I really liked the new-look offense, I hope that sticks. Less deep, contested midrange twos, please. That would be really nice.

But I don’t think anything I saw will make me substantially change my opinion on this team. It's hard to take too much away big picture from two games against inferior teams. The offense is a good sign, and I’ve got some questions defensively, especially with how they’re going to defend some of the more dominant bigs the conference/country has to offer. That said, I also saw some signs of how this team can surprise some people early in the season.

Just a few more sleeps until College Basketball is back, and I can’t wait. Look for an EMU preview to come really soon. Season Preview is linked here.

Until then, Go Dawgs!

Box Scores and Highlights Below:


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