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Cats Scratch Dogs: Penn State Beats Butler 68-62

You can’t win them all. Unfortunately for the Butler Bulldogs, loss #1 of the season comes at the hands of the Penn State Nittany Lions. It wasn’t the prettiest game, but here were my postgame thoughts:

*Recorded after a Commanders W and my voice wasn't having it to begin with. Also, we’re winning the Super Bowl.*


I had three main notes, so let’s get more in-depth on them now.


Jalen Pickett:


He's a straight-up baller. He controlled every single aspect of this game. Just complete domination. A 15-point, 11-assist triple-double with ZERO TURNOVERS!!!!! He was absolutely magnificent. He torched the Butler guards time and time again.


Early on, the Butler guards helped on a ton of his drives (as shown above), and to say I was unhappy would’ve been an understatement. Pickett drove to pass, he drives to read the defense and find the open man. Penn State has so many good shooters, that their offense needs a selfless leader, and that’s exactly who Pickett is. Here’s what I had to say pregame about Pickett, and why I love his game so much.

Yeah, I’m not gonna say I told you so, but...

I don’t get much right, let me have this…


He’s perfect at picking his spots and he just dissected the Butler defense tonight. He was bullying smaller guards, he was reading the defense and making the right pass, and he attacked Manny Bates whenever he got a switch.

He also did very well on Eric Hunter defensively, who just couldn’t get a rhythm going. His ability to shut down Hunter really changed the Butler offense and put everyone in a bit of a panic. Shots were rushed, drive and kick opportunities were limited, the ball stagnated more, etc. He was truly, truly excellent. He could do no wrong.


Three-Point Shooting:


I said after the New Orleans game that “three-point shooting at this clip would’ve ranked DEAD F****KING LAST NATIONALLY a season ago.” You can add a 5/23 performance to that already bad number. Making the season (including exhibitions) total 20/86 for 23.2%, meaning it only got worse after this game. Yikes. But, of course, it only gets worse. In both regular season games, Butler is 9/47 from deep, which is 19%. UGH.

Three-point shooting is typically something that has a decent amount of variance, so I’m not too worried yet, but you do have to make shots to win games. When your opponent shoots 41.7% from deep to your 21.7%, you’re typically going to lose. They’re an excellent shooting team, but even then you can’t have opponents shooting 40+% from deep against you and expect to win.


The good thing here is in that little rant last game, I lumped free throw shooting in with three-point shooting (for good reason, they shot 60.4% up to that point) and today the Bulldogs were 11/12 from the line, good for over 90%. There are shooters on this team, they just need to get back in rhythm.


Injuries:


This roster still isn’t at full strength. That’s a huge thing to factor in when looking at this team. Ali Ali was a projected early-season starter who still hasn’t played a game. His ability to play as a stretch four and defend their bigger guys, while hitting outside shots would’ve been huge tonight. It would’ve taken some pressure off of the guards, and potentially added more to the defense. Oh, not to mention, he’s probably the best three-point shooter on the roster.

407% is pretty good if you ask me. I would also gladly take 40.7%


Wilmoth, Mulloy and Jalen Thomas also haven’t played. Wilmoth started the first exhibition game, with Simas replacing him off the bench. He wasn’t hesitant to shoot the ball at all in that exhibition. His ability to stretch the floor could’ve been huge. And neither big was there today, either. When Manny Bates needs a breather, you’re forced to go small ball with Hughes at the five which played directly into Penn State’s hand tonight, as it enabled Jalen Pickett to post up with absolutely 0 repercussions, and gave them all the momentum.

Conclusion:


There’s a lot you can learn from this one. Wasn’t the best performance, but the guys didn’t quit on themselves. They kept playing hard until that timer read 00:00. They made it competitive in the end. Last year's team would’ve accepted defeat without hesitation. There’s a new energy to this team.


You didn’t do a good job of guarding Pickett. He played very well. He’s an excellent player and was able to control every aspect of this game. He was able to dictate the tempo and read the defense. He’s also an excellent guard and not someone you’re going to face every day.


Hopefully, they can make shots. Hopefully, they can get healthy. But, there is some good to come out of this one. This was a hostile environment against a very underrated Penn State squad. They defend at an elite level and shoot the three at an incredible rate.

Manny Bates was very good today. He adds a different dimension to this team. 16 points and 10 boards against a high major opponent is big time. Defensively he had three blocks and did well to alter a ton of shots, too.


It’s just one game. There’s still a ton of basketball to look forward to.


One more note to leave everyone on:


This has been and will continue to be on repeat all day


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