Tourney Central 3/10/2010 (Day 9)--The Mid-Majority
Set Your Tivo: 03.09.10--Rush The Court
Horizon League Championship – Wright State @ Butler – 9:00 pm on ESPN (****)
Butler has struggled in recent years with finishing out conference tournaments, despite their high level of success on a national basis. Given their recent play, that shouldn’t be a problem tonight. The Bulldogs, who have won 19 games in a row, match up well with Wright State’s guard-heavy lineup. In their two matchups, Butler had perhaps their best performances of the season. In their first game, all four offensive weapons for Butler scored in double figures, and they shot 50% from beyond the arc in addition to a nearly perfect 23-24 from the free throw line. The second game featured an equally impressive showing from the Bulldogs, who shot nearly 80% from two-point range, and made 89% of their free throws. Not only does Butler have a fundamentally sound offense, they are among Ken Pomeroy’s top 25 defensive teams. Although Wright State does not rank in the top 65 in either offensive or defensive efficiency, something must be said for their consistency this season. They have had four different streaks of three wins that were followed by a loss, and have never won more than four games in a row or lost more than two consecutive games. If the Raiders are to have one last three-game winning streak, they will have to beat Butler and win an NCAA tournament game, something that seems unlikely given Butler’s outstanding play.
ATB: Conference Chalkiness--Rush The Court
Horizon League Championship. #12 Butler 70, Wright State 45. Butler finished off its dream season in the Horizon League by winning its twentieth conference game in a prolonged coronation that erased many of the bad memories from last year’s home loss to Cleveland State at the same point. The Bulldogs hit 52% from the field and got strong offensive contributions from Matt Howard (14/9) and Shelvin Mack (14/2) to completely outclass Wright State tonight. With the 18 regular season wins and the two HL Tourney wins, Butler became the sole conference team to go unbeaten all the way through conference play this year. This will be Butler’s fourth consecutive trip to the NCAAs, but how good is this team? With an RPI of #17, and the fourth toughest nonconference schedule this year, we’d expect to see the Bulldogs on the #4/#5 line next week. This would give them a reasonably easy first round game followed by a second rounder against someone like a Temple, Vanderbilt, Baylor or Maryland. Butler lost two tough neutral games to Clemson and Georgetown earlier this year, but they also beat Ohio State and Xavier, so we know they can beat teams of that caliber. The question we have is whether the defense will hold when Matt Howard inevitably gets into foul trouble against a big front line — the Bulldog center was better about this down the stretch of the season, but in games against six BCS teams plus Xavier and UAB, he committed 36 fouls, for an average of 4.5 per game. Butler will need Howard’s offense and rebounding to stay on the floor if they expect to make another run at the Sweet Sixteen.
Ohio State swingman David Lighty captains 11th annual All-Glue Team--Sports Illustrated
Willie Veasley, 6-3 senior guard, Butler
Veasley is often described as quiet, but he has been steadily making more and more noise since coming to Butler four years ago. He started his college career by setting a school record for games played as a freshman, and he is ending it as the winningest player in Butler history. Though he has always been a tough defender and great rebounder for his size (4.3 per game this season), Veasley has turned himself into a top-flight marksman on offense. He did not make a single three-pointer during his first two seasons, but so far this season he has made 105 treys and is converting 37.1 percent. So whenever opposing defenses overplay the Bulldogs' leading scorer, 6-9 sophomore forward Gordon Hayward, they get punished when Butler swings the ball to a wide-open Veasley.
"He's probably one of those no-nonsense guys," Illinois-Chicago coach Jimmy Collins said of Veasley last year. "When he comes to work, he brings his brown bag and hard hat. He doesn't come into practice playing around. He comes to work."
Veasley may have distinguished himself most in October 2008, when practice began at the start of his junior season. Hayward had come to Butler with a lot of hype, but after Butler coach Brad Stevens told Veasley that he would have to share minutes with the newcomer on the wing, Stevens noticed that Veasley repeatedly deferred to Hayward in practice. "The number one quality of a leader, in my opinion, is somebody's willingness to serve other, and he is clearly one of the best servant leaders we've had here," Stevens told the Indianapolis Star.
Veasley is accustomed to making room for others. He is the second-youngest child and the only boy in a family of seven kids. A native of Freeport, Ill., he broke his high school's alltime scoring record. He originally wanted to play for Marquette, but then-coach Tom Crean did not offer him a scholarship until another recruit had backed out of his commitment. By then, Veasley had already committed to Butler, and he refused to go back on his word.
This season, Veasley is posting career highs in minutes (30.4), points (10.4) and steals. In other words, he's still getting better, but what else would you expect from a Glue Guy?
Butler deserves a good seed in tournament--The Indy Star
Butler beats back former nemesis Wright State--The Indy Star
Maybe this will satisfy the 'eye' test--Indy Star Butler Insider
BUTLER 70, WRIGHT STATE 45--THE unOFFICIAL BUTLER BULLDOGS MEN'S BASKETBALL PAGE
Bulldogs Capture Horizon League Tournament Crown--ButlerSports.com
Bulldogs Host Quarterfinal vs. Wright State Wednesday--ButlerSports.com
CSU's Kailey Klein hoping for fast start to Vikings' postseason race--Cleveland Plain Dealer
Vikings Open Horizon League Championship Against UIC--csuvikings.com
#3 Detroit to Host #6 Loyola in a Horizon League Championship Quarter-Final Match-up--detroittitans.com
Jeffers makes NBA debut--Whoosh!Net
Women's Basketball Tips Off The 2010 Speedway Horizon League Championship In Cleveland--uicflames.com
Loyola Heads To Motor City For Quarterfinal Clash With Detroit--LoyolaRamblers.com
Panthers Play At Green Bay In Quarterfinals--uwmpanthers.com
Wright State no match for Butler--Dayton Daily News
Raiders can’t shake Butler’s stingy defense--Dayton Daily News
WSU's night wasn't a total loss--Dayton Daily News
Raiders fail in championship game--Mark Katz's Blog
Crowd can’t do it all--Mark Katz's Blog
Wright State comes up empty--Through the Arch
No. 12 Butler routs Wright St. 70-45--Fairborn Daily Herald
Men Fall to #12 Butler in Horizon League Championship Game--wsuraiders.com
Butler defeats Wright State for Horizon League Title--The Horizon League
HLN Live Blog: 2010 Speedway HL Men's Basketball Championship--Horizon League Network