Junior guard Myles Tate runs the offense in the game against New Orleans on Nov. 7. Photo by Claire Runkel.
KOBE MOSLEY | MANAGING EDITOR | email@example.com
Returning home after their first loss of the season — a 68-62 loss at Penn State — the Butler men’s basketball team will have two home games before jet-setting to the Bahamas for a very important Battle 4 Atlantis tournament during Thanksgiving break. The first of the two games will be against the Saint Francis Red Flash.
This will be the first-ever meeting between the two programs. While this is a very winnable game, Butler needs to take Saint Francis seriously. The performance against the Nittany Lions cannot be used as a sign of things to come since it is so early in the season. It can, however, be an example of how the team can get better going forward. It would behoove them to do that sooner rather than later — the Dawgs cannot expect to play that way and win against the likes of Tennessee.
Here’s what you need to know before the Bulldogs and Red Flash take the floor at Hinkle.
Who: Butler vs. Saint Francis
When: Nov. 17, 6:30 p.m.
Where: Hinkle Fieldhouse
How to watch/listen: FS2/ WXNT 1430AM
Trust the process
Head coach Thad Matta has repeatedly said that playing the inside-out game is going to be key to Butler’s success on offense. So far, 50% of that plan has been working.
Graduate student center Manny Bates has successfully revived the paint in Butler’s offense. In the Dawgs’ first two games, Bates is averaging 20.5 points and 10.5 rebounds. He is also shooting a very efficient 74% from the field. To make Bates truly effective though, there has to be a threat of shooters on the perimeter around him.
The Bulldogs have only made nine of their 47 attempts from the three-point line this season. Given this is just game three of the season, it would be premature to call this a shooting slump. Hopefully, the team — and especially sophomore Jayden Taylor, who has 18 of those 47 missed three-point shots — are taking a page from NBA star Stephen Curry and characterizing this cold period as “just missing shots.”
Continue to defend without fouling
A big positive for the Bulldogs so far has come on the defensive side of the ball. The Bulldogs are averaging just 12 fouls per game, which ranks them tied for 11th in all of Division I. Last season, the Bulldogs averaged 16.7 fouls per game, so this difference is a significant improvement.
At this point in the season, staying out of foul trouble is crucial. Butler is still missing three rotation players due to injury — senior forward/center Jalen Thomas, senior guard/forward Ali Ali and junior forward Myles Wilmoth. While Ali is expected to return sooner rather than later, Thomas and Wilmoth are still out for the immediate future.
This means that players like Bates, sophomore guard/forward Pierce Thomas and sophomore forward D.J. Hughes will need to avoid racking up early fouls. To this point, they have done a great job at doing just that.
Red Flash scouting report
The Red Flash, hailing from Loretto, Pennsylvania, have started off the season 1-2. In their most recent game, Saint Francis fell just short of a double-digit comeback versus Cornell, losing 80-77 to the Big Red.
The Red Flash are led by redshirt junior Josh Cohen, who is averaging 18.7 points and seven rebounds in his team’s first three games. Cohen — who also led the team in scoring last season — is joined by junior Maxwell Land. Land is averaging 16.7 points per game and recently scored a career-high 26 points in the Red Storm’s lone win on the season against Hartford. Rounding out the leading scorers for Saint Francis is first-year Landon Moore, who has been adding in 14.7 points per game.
The Red Flash crash the boards hard, already racking up 35 offensive rebounds this season. The Bulldogs have done an equally good job at rebounding, especially at the guard position, so watch the battle on the boards in this matchup.