Normally when we do these write ups, themes and bi-lines in the game have a tendency to appear on their own. These themes are what make for good writing and what make out game recaps so fun to write. How we can look for the human element and the inherent drama of sporting events and create a creative piece of work.
This is not one of those write ups...
And you wouldn't think of a game where you have the defending conference champions and two-time national runner-up Butler coming into your home court. Detroit Mercy vs. Butler was one of those games where I had to dig deep to find anything creative to write about. It was a match-up of two .500 teams with middle of the pack conference records. The fact that Butler has been to the last two Final Fours and Detroit has one of the top prospect point guards in the country isn't enough to write home about.
But don't tell that to the UDM faithful. They went all out for this game due to the fact that it WAS Butler coming into their house. And the negative sentiment couldn't be any stronger. Even the pep band brought a sign that said "Butler = Sham". The UDM athletic department organized a "red out" for this event. Even though I try to remain impartial, I had to put on a shirt, only because I didn't want to be the only jackass wearing a sky blue button down shirt in a sea of red!
The identity of Butler is not the same as it was when it made its now infamous runs to the national title games. The only familiar names were Senior guard Ronal Nored and Junior center Andrew Smith. Currently the Bulldogs have six freshmen on their roster and a total of nine underclassmen; Not exactly a veteran laden squad. The distribution of minutes among the younger players was one area of note as Butler will most assuredly be struggling to find its way in the post Howard/Mack/Hayward era.
The game itself illustrated this fact. Despite the fact it was one of the strongest road fan contingents I've seen in Callahan Hall, Butler got off to a scary slow start. UDM jumped out of the gate with a 10-2 run that had Butler discombobulated. Players would take the ball to the rim and hesitate to even put the ball up for a shot. Meanwhile, UDM shot a blistering 53.2% from the field. One bright spot for the Bulldogs was the play of freshman guard Andrew Smeathers. Despite only three of nine shooting, Smeathers logged significant minutes as a swingman. He showed his potential as a significant scoring threat by taking the majority of his shots from beyond the 3-point line and even pulling up from an extra foot or two beyond the arc. It will be interesting to see his development as a college basketball player.
Unfortunately for Butler, the 2nd half just went from bad to worse. The Bulldogs had more missed assignments and discombobulating, especially as Doug Anderson ran up his dunk tally as he does every game (4 more dunks this game.) At one point they even threw the ball away on a baseline-out-of-bounds play!
Seeing as how the game was rather uneventful the rest of the way, I'd like to take a minute to make a statement for posterity sake. I usually have the same spot in the general seating bleachers for every game. It's kind of "My Spot", Cartesian coordinates 0,0,0. What's unique is that from this vantage point, it puts me in the realm of the average fan. Unlike if I were to have media credentials, I'm sitting where someone who doesn't have the basketball knowledge of someone who has spent considerable time working with a college basketball team would usually sit. But today, I have never heard more asinine idiotic commentary from the fans' perspective in my life! Any call that was not made in favor of the home team was immediately scrutinized in a less than civil fashion. There were instances where a Butler player would be taking a change in the lane (correct and fair call mind you) and my entire section would be up in arms! One dad and his children in particular were literally screaming at the refs for a call "they" thought should have warranted an additional technical. I've never had a problem with any crowd at any game I've ever attended, but even for my "home" crowd, it made it difficult today to enjoy the game. It has to be stated that fans' stupidity and rudeness can get in the way of the entertainment of the game.
In the end, the fans got what they wanted. UDM cruised to a 76-65 victory with a balanced scoring attack with four starters in double figures in what surely is a considerable RPI victory and a nice feather in the team's cap. As for Butler, the Bulldogs may have to take the entire season to find their team identity. But what is for certain, this isn't the same team that's been to two Final Fours. Which begs the question: Was this really that big of a game to get up and get rowdy for?
at DETROIT 76, BUTLER 65 01/08/2012
BUTLER 9-8 (3-2) -- A. Smith 2-5 0-0 5; R. Nored 4-7 3-5 13; R. Jones 3-5 2-2 8; A. Smeathers 3-9 0-1 8; C. Hopkins 3-9 0-0 7; K. Marshall 5-10 1-3 11; K. Woods 1-4 0-0 2; C. Stigall 1-2 0-0 3; E. Fromm 2-4 0-0 5; J. Aldridge 0-0 0-0 0; G. Butcher 1-3 0-0 3; A. Barlow 0-0 0-0 0; E. Kampen 0-0 0-0 0; E. Kampen 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 25-58 6-11 65. DETROIT 8-10 (2-4) -- J. Calliste 4-8 5-6 16; R. McCallum 4-8 2-2 12; C. Simon 6-14 0-0 15; L. Lowe 2-3 2-2 6; D. Foster 3-3 4-7 11; D. Anderson 4-7 2-2 10; E. Holman 1-3 0-0 2; E. Bruinsma 1-1 2-2 4; P. Boutte 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 25-47 17-21 76.
Three-point goals: BUTL 9-21 (G. Butcher 1-1; R. Nored 2-2; C. Stigall 1-2; A. Smith 1-1; E. Fromm 1-2; C. Hopkins 1-5; A. Smeathers 2-7; K. Woods 0-1), UDM 9-16 (C. Simon 3-7; D. Foster 1-1; J. Calliste 3-5; R. McCallum 2-3); Rebounds: BUTL 20 (R. Jones 5), UDM 24 (L. Lowe 5); Assists: BUTL 11 (C. Hopkins 3), UDM 15 (R. McCallum 7); Total Fouls -- BUTL 19, UDM 16; Fouled Out: BUTL-None; UDM-L. Lowe.