Men’s basketball vs. Franklin College: What you need to know

Senior guard DJ Davis brings the ball up the court against Ohio Northern on Oct. 28. Photo by Makenna Frias. 


The men’s basketball team will return to Hinkle Fieldhouse tonight to take on Franklin College in the second and final exhibition game of the 2023-24 season. The Bulldogs are coming off a 78-46 blowout win over the Division III Ohio Northern Polar Bears in their first exhibition game. The Dawgs will use this game to continue working on team chemistry before their first regular season game against Eastern Michigan

Here’s what you need to know before Butler takes on the Franklin College Grizzlies. 

Who: Butler vs. Franklin College 

When: Nov. 1, 7 p.m. 

Where: Hinkle Fieldhouse 

How to watch/listen: WXNT 1430 AM 

Flying out of the gate 

The Bulldogs wasted no time showcasing the talent this team has to offer in the win over Ohio Northern. Granted, ONU is a Division III school, but fans got a sneak peek into how Thad Matta’s new pieces fit into his blueprint. The standout of the night was senior guard DJ Davis, who led the team in points, assists and rebounds. Beyond his statline, Davis’ range and ability to hit threes gave the team a dimension they did not have last season. The other standout was sophomore forward Connor Turnbull. Turnbull brought the crowd in Hinkle Fieldhouse to their feet on multiple occasions as he threw down dunk after dunk.

Offensively, Butler jumped out early and never looked back. The Dawgs ended up shooting 58% from the field and 35.3% from beyond the arc. The blemish of the night on the scoresheet was free throw shooting. The Bulldogs only shot 60.9% from the charity stripe, including hitting only half of their free throw attempts in the second half. It is still only the first exhibition game of the season, but free throw shooting down the stretch of a game can come back to haunt teams when March rolls around. 

Defensively, Butler held ONU to only 46 points on the night on 34.5% shooting. One of the biggest downfalls for the Polar Bears was their lack of size. Big men Jalen Thomas, Andre Screen and Turnbull dominated in the paint on both sides of the floor. Turnbull even registered three blocks. Postgame, Matta said the defense was “pretty good at times,” but they were “sloppy” defending some of the picks ONU set up against them. With time and experience those miscues will need to be fixed, but they were not close to hurting the Dawgs on Saturday night. 

What is different about this year’s team? 

Depth is the first word that comes to mind when thinking about how this team has evolved from last year. With the influx of transfers and new first-years, we are beginning to see Matta build his team the way he wants. It just seems like everywhere you look on this squad there are players at every position who have something to add. 

Depth down low was a huge problem for Butler last season. When Manny Bates got injured, Thomas was essentially the only starting/rotation caliber center who could fill that role. This season they have Thomas returning, Screen, an improved Turnbull and hopefully Augusto Cassia in later games. Time will tell if these players are able to perform against bigger teams in the Big East, but they looked pretty good in the first game. 

Another difference is the way Matta has added shooters to diversify the offense. Last year Butler seemed one-dimensional at times, which forced them to rely on players who were not very good long range shooters to take long shots. This season, they have added guys like Davis, Landon Moore and first-year Finley Bizjack to help hit shots from outside and make the offense harder to guard. 

Yet again, we are only one game into what is going to be a long season, so things are prone to change. For Bulldogs fans, though, there is reason to be excited about this group. 

Who is Franklin College? 

Franklin College is a liberal arts school located 20 minutes south of Indianapolis. They have Division III athletics and compete in the Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference (HCAC). The HCAC features schools from around Indiana, Ohio and Kentucky. 

The men’s basketball team finished last season with a record of 13-13 before losing to Hanover College in the HCAC Championships. In 27 games last year, Franklin scored an average of 68.9 points per game on 43.2% shooting. This will be the first ever meeting between the Bulldogs and Grizzlies

Butler will have to prove they can defend the three point line because a majority of Franklin’s offense revolves around shooting threes. 41.7% of the Grizzlies’ shots last season were three pointers, so the Bulldogs will have to focus on chasing Franklin off the three point line and force them to take different shots. 

Franklin will likely not be a tough matchup for Butler, but the game is a good learning experience and live atmosphere to work on team chemistry and test out new game plans. 


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