Men’s basketball vs. St. John’s: Beyond the box score

Junior guard Myles Tate played a season-high 20 minutes in the loss to St. John’s. Photo by Claire Runkel.


In the first round of the Big East tournament, the Butler men’s basketball team was defeated by the St. John’s Red Storm 76-63. With the loss and barring a postseason invitation, Butler will end their season with a 14-18 record and a 6-14 record in conference play. St. John’s won two of the three games against the Bulldogs this season and advanced to the second round to face No. 6 Marquette.

Sophomore guard/forward Simas Lukosius led all scorers with 23 points. Senior forward/center Jalen Thomas scored a season-high 20 points on 10-16 shooting. Junior guard Myles Tate added 10 points off the bench to round out the double-figure scorers.

Seven different players made a field goal for the Red Storm. Senior Joel Soriano had a double-double with 19 points and 15 rebounds. First-year AJ Storr contributed 15 points, junior Posh Alexander added 13 points and junior David Jones scored 12 points off the bench. Junior Dylan Addae-Wusu also had a double-double with 10 points and 10 rebounds. St. John’s was dominant on the glass and finished with 53 rebounds including an astonishing 20 offensive rebounds.

Let’s go beyond the box score in a game that Butler will look to forget as they head into the offseason.


Missing pieces

Prior to the game, it was announced that graduate guard Eric Hunter Jr. and graduate center Manny Bates were not available because they did not meet the academic expectations of the program. With two starters out, it made the task to beat St. John’s difficult due to the experience Bates and Hunter Jr. bring. 

This is not a good look for the two players or the entire program. Hunter Jr. potentially missed out on playing in the last college basketball game of his career. That is inexcusable for a program that prides itself on academic excellence. Bates released a statement on his Instagram explaining how he had not maintained a B average for his graduate studies which did not meet Butler’s academic standards to be eligible to travel and play in the tournament. 

This was a disappointing ending to the season for these two players and this program. How can you not have two starters eligible in the most important point of the season? In the end, it comes down to the players taking control of their academics but these players just played on Feb. 4 in the game against Xavier. What exactly changed from that game to now to them no longer being eligible to play?


Rotation frustration 

With those players unavailable to play, it led to more minutes for guys who for some reason had not gotten the opportunity to play throughout the season. Redshirt freshman guard Pierce Thomas played 26 minutes which was more minutes than he had played in the previous five games combined. Earlier on in the season when the Bulldogs were missing players due to injury, Thomas was a mainstay of the rotation and always brought energy and effort on the defensive end. However, once the other players returned, Thomas rarely saw double-digit minutes and was relegated to end-of-the-game minutes. 

Myles Tate was the third-leading scorer in this game and played 20 minutes. When the Bulldogs have struggled throughout the year, why were no changes made to the rotation? The starters were playing heavy minutes no matter what. Tate and Thomas showed in this game that they could have received regular minutes during the season. Junior forward Myles Wilmoth also came in and recorded two blocks in a short span of play. What is the reason all of these players could not have come in for short spurts of games and been successful? While injuries certainly played a part it was not the only factor and Coach Thad Matta has to take responsibility for this level of play and the team’s record.


Looking ahead to next season

It remains to be seen what players will be returning or if any players will be entering the transfer portal. Hunter Jr. is the only player that exhausted his eligibility and will not be returning to the team next season. Until time passes, it will be an exercise in futility to speculate or guess whether or not anyone transfers or any players that could transfer to Butler. This team will need the full offseason and summer to be prepared for next season and strides will need to be made if the team wants to be competitive in the Big East. 



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