The Thad Matta era is officially upon us. The Dogs wanted to start this new beginning with a bang, and that’s exactly what they did. Butler made a statement, absolutely thrashing the New Orleans Privateers, winning 89-53. A 36-point beatdown. Manny Bates led the way with a dominant 25 points and 11 boards, as all five Bulldog starters finished with double-digit points.
This game showed every facet of the new-look Butler Bulldogs. This team was aggressive defensively, forcing a whopping 30 Privateer turnovers, and playing with pace, having 77 possessions this game. The Dawgs were the aggressors in this game, playing with energy, passion and really just everything you could want.
A lot of times last season, it felt as if the team was just going through the motions and accepting the results. Today, they went out and were going to dominate New Orleans and nobody was stopping them. The Dogs had eight dunks and sixteen layups en route to shooting an incredible 80% from two-point range (32/40). Everything from thunderous dunks, to beautiful ball movement, this game had it all.
Actually, let’s show some of these dunks before we get into some takeaways from the game:
If this doesn't get you out of your seat, idk what does
Awesome dunk, but the close-up on the ref at the end is hilarious
Here’s what I was looking for entering the game.
The rebounding battle was 33-28 in favor of the Dogs (not great), but when you force 30 turnovers and have both 13 more shots and 13 more free throws than your opponent, you easily earn a mulligan on the rebounding battle. It’s still something to monitor, but if you force TO’s like they did tonight, rebounding will matter significantly less. Expecting 30 TO’s from your opponent is quite an ask, though.
Foul trouble was non-existent, minus Hughes with four. Very disciplined, despite being aggressive, defense from the Dogs, especially in forcing those TO’s which led to some easy transition buckets.
This recap has been exclusively positive up to this point, which means it’s time for the negative. There’s a chance shooting is a problem for this team. 4/24 from the three-point line is just a tough look. Three-point shooting is something that varies greatly from game to game, but at this point, it’s been three games (counting both exhibitions) shooting under 30% from three. 4/24 last night, 5/18 against Tiffin and 6/21 against Davenport. That combines for a total of 15/63 (23.8%!!) from three-point range, against some lower-level competition. That’s something that’s going to have to improve quickly.
Free-throw shooting isn’t much better either, as Butler was 13/21 tonight, good for just under 62%. In the two exhibitions, they were 11/22 against Tiffin (still triggered) and 8/10 against Davenport. Adding up to be 32/53 from the charity stripe, good for 60.4%. It’s an incredibly small sample size, but BOTH three-point shooting and free-throw shooting at this clip would’ve ranked DEAD F****KING LAST NATIONALLY a season ago. This is an unsustainable pace, you can’t win games like this. You HAVE to make your open threes and free throws. This is something that should regress for the better, but still, there’s a reason to worry.
That and 15 turnovers isn’t particularly good, either. Part of this comes with the hectic pace, and some of it will come with more experience in a newer style, but some of these stupid mistakes have to go. You can’t shoot like this, or turn the ball over this much and expect to win in Happy Valley against Penn State. The ball is moving which is absolutely awesome, so hopefully, they can trim down the TO's.
People’s Main Event:
There were enough people around campus this week that I told this game was a “Must Attend” mainly due to the presence of Red Panda. It’s safe to say she puts asses in seats. People absolutely love them some Red Panda.
But, unfortunately, tragedy struck in Hinkle Fieldhouse.
Barstool reposted this and 110% stole my caption. Got me manyyyyy more views, though, so, I’ll take it. Will proceed to brag about having a Twitter video with nearly 200K views for the rest of the week for sure. Maybe the rest of the year.
I never thought I’d see the day. And, I wouldn’t be doing my job if I wasn’t doing some honest reporting here. This wasn’t her only blunder. I know, I know, it’s unbearable news. I couldn’t believe what I saw.
I expect all sports talk shows to lead with “Has Red Panda Lost Her Fastball” or something of the sort. And to that, there’s only one thing to say.
“Have you never had an off day? Are we not going to let a cultural icon have some preseason struggles? Just a ridiculous overreaction!”
This just goes to show you that even the greats have off days. A very minor setback for a major comeback. Flawless performances coming ahead for Red Panda. That’s a guarantee.
Butler made a dominant statement. They put the rest of the league on notice. The ‘Dogs are here to play. The new-found fast-paced action is awesome. This energy level is nothing short of contagious. But, please start hitting some outside shots and free throws. I don’t want to reach pulling hair out stages come Big East play. Frankly, you’re gonna have to hit some shots against an underrated Penn State team next Monday. See you all then.