JOSH MULLENIX | STAFF REPORTER | firstname.lastname@example.org
Basketball is back in Hinkle Fieldhouse. The Butler men’s basketball team takes on Miami of Ohio to begin their 2018-19 season. Here is everything you need to know ahead of the team’s first game.
Who: Butler vs. Miami (OH)
When: Nov. 10 at 7 p.m.
Where: Hinkle Fieldhouse, Indianapolis, Indiana
How to Watch/Listen: Fox Sports Network, 107.5 FM
Exhibition games in review
Butler finished their exhibition schedule 2-0, defeating Tiffin University and the University of Southern Indiana.
Against Tiffin, the Bulldogs had six players in double figures, led by Kamar Baldwin who had 17 points. One of the biggest question marks coming into this season is how this group will account for the loss of Kelan Martin on offense. Baldwin has to be the leader on the offensive end and he needs a supporting cast around him. Maybe not six players, but four to five Bulldogs in double figures led by the first-team All-Big East selection is the most sustainable form of offense this season.
What is not sustainable is what occurred against Southern Indiana on Nov. 3. Senior Paul Jorgensen finished with 24 points on 10-of-17 shooting while Baldwin scored six points on 11 shots. Obviously, Jorgensen scoring 24 is never a bad thing, but the expectation this season should not be for him to lead the team in scoring. His presence is much more felt in a high energy role where the offense does not fall directly on his shoulders.
Two takeaways from the exhibitions? First, this team can pass the basketball. Nate Fowler and Joey Brunk in the middle are much better facilitators than Tyler Wideman, which drastically improves ball movement, and the guards did a good job facilitating to shooters on the perimeter. Second, Butler only turned the ball over 12 times in two games and forced 22 against Southern Indiana. It is much easier to win basketball games when the Bulldogs win the turnover battle.
What the Bulldogs did last season
Last year, Butler finished 21-14 overall and 9-9 in conference play. After finishing sixth in the Big East conference, the Bulldogs won their first Big East Tournament game in program history against Seton Hall before falling to Villanova in the semifinals. As No. 10 seed in the NCAA tournament, Butler beat Arkansas in the round of 64, which set up a second round matchup with Purdue. The Boilermakers held off the Bulldogs by a score of 76-73, ending Butler’s season.
Scouting the opponent
Miami is bringing back four out of five starters from a team that went 16-18 last season and finished 8-10 in the Mid-American Conference. Five of the Redhawks’ top six scorers are returning, including sophomore Nike Sibande, who led the team with 15.1 points per game as a freshman. Also returning for the Redhawks is senior Darrian Ringo, who received third team All-MAC honors last season. The senior dished out 236 assists last season, which broke a school record and was the seventh-highest in the nation. The 6-foot-2-inch guard from Brownsburg, Indiana, will be a good test for Butler’s backcourt to start the season.