JULIAN WYLLIE | Columnist
With a disappointing men’s basketball season recently completed, it is time to reflect on what went wrong on the court.
The season started well, better than some may have expected. But when Big East Conference play began, things went awry quickly.
Dan Bere, a Butler men’s basketball analyst, agrees with this point.
“I think we showed a lot of promise early in the season,” Bere said. “But once we got into league play, some of our tough losses early might’ve hurt our confidence.”
Bere later said that the team grew overall and showed promise late in the season.
“Our greatest strength was our fight,” Bere said. “This team didn’t give in. They stayed together.”
Fans should be proud that the team stuck together when the situation got rough, but they still have the right to be skeptical of how the transition into the Big East will affect future success.
From the Horizon League to the Atlantic 10 Conference to the Big East, Butler has gone through three different conferences in three seasons and the level of competition has increased at every stage.
The Bulldogs have to accept the fact that they were simply not good enough to win games against more skilled and athletic teams with deeper rosters.
When asked, Bere chose not to comment on what he viewed as the team’s greatest weakness this season.
“I’m not going to comment on a weakness,” Bere said. “I just think it’s not my place to say. I’ll let (the) coach handle that.”
For Butler fans, however, the weaknesses were not difficult to spot.
Statistical analysis proves that the team simply missed opportunities.
The Bulldogs had fewer turnovers than their opponents in Big East play—which was a strength all year.
But in Big East play, Butler had half as many blocks as their opponents and were consistently out-rebounded. The team also left too many points on the table.
The team had a significantly lower field goal and free throw percentage than opponents.
Butler went to the free-throw line a lot more than its Big East opponents, but the team simply did not convert enough of those shots.
Butler also shot a lower effective field goal percentage—which calculates the added bonus of the 3-point shot.
Even with Butler’s skilled shooters, the team had an effective field goal percentage of 46 percent, while the opposition had an effectiveness of 52 percent.
Even with this list highlighting the negatives, Butler should view the situation as an opportunity to improve next season. The key is being honest and open to anything that would improve the team.
It is clear that Butler needs to establish a familiarity with the Big East. Going through a disappointing season in a new conference can make the team stronger. The Bulldogs now know what to expect.
Lastly, Butler should address its issues of roster depth by recruiting more athletes capable of playing forward and center in the physical Big East.
A balanced team of dynamic guards and forwards will push Butler to a higher level.
With the season now completed, Butler should have a bitter taste in its mouth.
Everyone would have preferred a smoother transition into the new conference but it simply wasn’t mean to be.
But the mark of a champion has always been about how one handles adversity. It will take time for Butler to make the most of this opportunity.
Heed the wisdom of legendary coach Phil Jackson: “The ideal way to win a championship is step by step.”