Graduate center Manny Bates was held without a field goal for the first time this season against St. John’s on Jan. 10. Photo by Claire Runkel.
KOBE MOSLEY | MANAGING EDITOR | firstname.lastname@example.org
To cap off their trip to the East Coast, the Butler men’s basketball team was handed their fifth conference loss in a 77-61 loss to St. John’s. The Bulldogs were led on offense by junior guard Chuck Harris with 17 points to go along with five rebounds. Sophomore guard/forward Simas Lukosius added 15 points and senior forward Ali Ali finished with 10 points in his first Butler career start.
St. John’s was in control for much of this matchup, leading for 90% of the game. Senior Joel Soriano recorded his 15th double-double of the season — which leads the nation — with a 20-point, 10-rebound performance. Junior Posh Alexander also tied his season-high total of steals with six on the night.
Let’s go beyond the box to recap another disappointing showing by the Dawgs.
Lots of takeaways but too many giveaways
On a night sparse of positives, Butler did force St. John’s to cough up the basketball quite a bit. The Bulldogs forced 18 turnovers — the most they have had since Nov. 7 versus New Orleans. Yes, 10 of those came in the second half when the game was nearly out of reach, but they were takeaways nonetheless.
However, Butler did not do nearly a good enough job keeping possession of the ball on their side of the court. The Bulldogs started and ended the game with a turnover and ended the loss with a total of 22 — their second-most in a game in the season. For a team that only averages about 13 turnovers a game this season, starting a trend of giving opponents extra possessions is not a good idea.
Manny goes M.I.A.
When a team’s second-leading scorer and leading rebounder goes for three points and three rebounds, a loss like this does tend to follow. For whatever reason, graduate center Manny Bates was unable to get anything going all night and did not get nearly as many touches as Butler would like to see. Bates only took one shot the entire half and went the entire game without a field goal for the first time in a Butler uniform.
To give Bates some slack, the Big East is loaded with talented big men, and his matchup with Soriano was certainly no cakewalk. That being said, if Bates wants to be considered one of those top big men in the conference, he is going to have to assert his dominance down low, with help from his teammates too.
After what may very likely have been the toughest seven-game stretch of any Big East team, it sadly won’t get any easier for the Bulldogs this month. Butler’s next two games against Villanova and Creighton will thankfully be at home. Then, the Dawgs will have back-to-back road matchups with UConn and Providence before ending the month at home against Seton Hall on Jan. 28.
Time is starting to run out on Butler’s chances to make an NCAA Tournament push, so if they want to impress the committee, now would be a good time to start rattling off some wins.