Sophomore guard Jayden Taylor attempts to drive to the basket against Pirates’ defenders. Photo by Claire Runkel.
MATTHEW CRANE | SPORTS CO-EDITOR | email@example.com
The Butler men’s basketball team lost their fourth game in a row with a 70-49 defeat to Seton Hall. The Bulldogs were led on offense by sophomore guard/forward Simas Lukosius with 11 points. Senior forward/center Jalen Thomas added 10 points and eight rebounds off the bench to round out the double-figure scorers. The Bulldogs’ other four starters combined to score 16 points. Junior guard Chuck Harris left the game in the first half after going for a loose ball and being struck in the head. Harris did not return in the second half of the game and is in concussion protocol.
Seton Hall was in control for the majority of the game and cruised in the second half of the game. Junior Dre Davis led all scorers with 15 points and made all three of his three-point attempts. The Indianapolis native went on a personal 8-0 run in the first half to buoy the Pirates’ lead. Senior Al-Amir Dawes scored 11 points. Graduate student KC Ndefo chipped in 10 points and junior Kadary Richmond picked up 10 points along with five rebounds and five assists.
Let’s go beyond the box score to recap the Dawgs’ second loss to the Pirates.
In what has been a recurring theme for the Bulldogs, they found themselves down and out early in the first half. The team has now lost eight conference games by 20 or more points. Coach Thad Matta had no real answer for the team not being able to compete in Big East play and mentioned his disappointment with this loss.
“Obviously our minds weren’t wherewhere they needed to be to play Seton Hall today for whatever reason,” Matta said. “I don’t know, I thought we had a good practice yesterday coming in and we didn’t execute it.”
In the first half, the team shot 35% from the field and allowed Seton Hall to shoot 51.5%. The Pirates attempted 13 more shots than the Bulldogs as they grabbed eight offensive rebounds in the half. Teams typically do not have the ability to overcome those types of numbers and this Butler team has shown that they seem to give up once the first half is over.
Teams of Butler’s past have shown that they could make it a game in the second half with a sense of urgency and the defense might tighten up. This team has continually decided to let bad moments take over and have shown an inability to work themselves back into games.
What to do about the rotation?
The rotation has remained consistent in the fact that starters have been playing heavy minutes and bench players are only coming in for short spurts or very late in the game when the outcome has been decided.
At what point is it time for an adjustment to be made? The starters have not been getting the job done. Junior guard Myles Tate started 18 games in his first season and showed flashes in that season. Tate has not been given any sort of consistent minutes to make an impact. Junior forward Myles Wilmoth has the length to help on defense and an improved shooting stroke with more playing time should result in him being a contributing factor to the team. Redshirt freshman Pierce Thomas was a part of the rotation early on. After a wrist injury, he has not played nearly as much, but this team could use his effort and energy on both ends of the floor.
First-year forward/center Connor Turnbull has been given more time recently and has been hitting three-pointers showing his potential as a stretch four to help space the floor. Turnbull has occasionally struggled to guard down in the post, but at this point not allowing him to play only hinders his development.
Some more game action could help the confidence levels of the bench and could also see if these guys can help the team improve. The definition of insanity is doing the same thing repeatedly and expecting different results. It is past time for changes to be made to see if any momentum can be had to end conference play on a high note.
Butler will take on the No. 16 Marquette Golden Eagles at Fiserv Forum in Milwaukee, Wisconsin on Feb. 4. This will be the first matchup between the two teams this season. The Golden Eagles will be coming off a home game against Villanova.