Game #9-110: Hanover at Butler BulldogsNovember 27, 2012 7:00 pm
After returning from a fairly successful trip to the Maui Invitational, Butler hosted Division III foe Hanover College Tuesday night. This matchup was scheduled late in the summer after Butler's rather abrupt shift from the Horizon League to the Atlantic 10 Conference. By that time, the Dawgs already had set their 2012-13 schedule, including 18 conference games in the Horizon. With the A-10 having only 16 conference games, Butler suddenly was faced with a two-game void in their schedule, so the Hanover Panthers were given a chance to visit Hinkle Fieldhouse.There were a number of connections between Hanover and Butler, which gave this game a bit of a reunion feel. Panther Coach Jon Miller was an assistant at DePauw University during Brad Stevens' last two seasons of his playing career. Additionally, two sets of high school teammates turned rivals on this night: Desmond Marks (Hanover) and Eric Fromm (Butler) formerly played together at Bloomington South, while Matt Wehner (Hanover) and Kellen Dunham (Butler) led Pendleton Heights just last year.
In a report earlier this week, my Ballyfest Destiny teammate Parks Smith mentioned how he hated seeing his favorite team play against a non-Division I team, and I watched this game with much the same feeling. Any Butler turnover or any Hanover score seemed reason for high anxiety; if Butler struggled like that against Hanover, what's going to happen when they face an A-10 opponent? This, of course, is a ridiculous standard to apply to a basketball game with 70+ possessions. In reality, Hanover has a roster filled entirely with young men from Indiana, Kentucky, and Ohio - three states where they certainly had the opportunity to compete against a number of fairly skilled players as they were growing up in the game. While they were generally smaller, and maybe a bit less athletic, than their Butler counterparts, the Panthers were determined to play their style of basketball in this contest. They didn't hesitate to push the pace of the game, and they were ready to fire away from three-point range.
Given I was already uncomfortable seeing my favorite team compete against a D-III squad, I was made doubly uncomfortable when I noticed that Hanover was starting a 5'5" point guard. When I used to play a lot back in the day, I'd do everything I could to avoid matching up against the short, fast guy; as I've followed the game in the years since, I get similarly frustrated by the inability of my team to contend with that type of player. It's often said that there's no substitute for quickness, and Hanover's sophomore Tim Bass, an Indianapolis native, had quickness in abundance.
All of this foreboding may lead you to believe I witnessed a great upset, but that wasn't the case. Butler scored on an alley-oop dunk three seconds after the opening tip, spurted out to leads of 10-0, and then 15-2, and were never seriously threatened. However, Hanover had several stretches of very competitive play, particularly when Bass used his quickness to penetrate into the lane and kick the ball out to shooters whose defender had moved over to help contain the point guard. That wasn't a terribly exotic offensive strategy, but they had players who executed it well. Bass ended the game with ten assists, and the Panthers knocked down twelve superhoops. Butler finished with a 97-73 victory, but left with some lingering question marks about its defense, even though it was just a week earlier that they had held North Carolina to 18 first-half points.
With this game being the start of a three-game homestand, I was hoping to get an extended look at Butler's freshman guard, Devontae Morgan, who saw some extended action near the end of their loss in Maui to Illinois. Morgan appears to have the potential to be a dynamic contributer to Butler's backcourt, but seems to be in a learning mode, especially on the defensive end; as such, he appeared in just a few minutes in each half, and most of his second half action was limited to "dribble out the clock time" (Morgan is #2 in the foreground).
When the coach has a record of success like Stevens, I tend to award him the full benefit of the doubt in regards to who gets playing time, and just assume that much of Morgan's growth is occurring in practice. From the little bit I saw Tuesday, I could see Morgan increasing in confidence, and I am eager to see the degree to which that continues over the next several games.
On a personal note, I experienced some growth of my own on this night, as I celebrated my 49th birthday with this visit to Hinkle Fieldhouse. Not everybody would view a 120 mile drive and a Butler-Hanover game as a high quality celebration, but over the years I've indeed found Hinkle to be a very welcoming place, and still savor every chance I get there. Regardless of how old we may or may not be, this season is still very young, and we each have much to experience in the months to come. I'm looking forward to being welcomed again soon!
at BUTLER 97, HANOVER 73
BUTLER 4-2 (0-0) -- K. Dunham 4-8 3-3 12; R. Clarke 6-8 2-2 19; R. Jones 5-7 0-0 10; A. Smith 5-7 3-6 13; K. Marshall 7-12 5-6 19; J. Aldridge 2-7 2-5 7; K. Woods 2-2 0-0 4; E. Fromm 0-2 3-4 3; C. Stigall 1-1 0-0 2; A. Barlow 0-0 0-0 0; D. Morgan 2-2 0-0 5; A. Smeathers 1-3 0-0 3; E. Kampen 0-0 0-0 0; E. Kampen 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 35-59 18-26 97.
Three-point goals: - , BUTL 9-18 (R. Clarke 5-6; A. Smith 0-1; E. Fromm 0-1; A. Smeathers 1-3; J. Aldridge 1-2; K. Dunham 1-4; D. Morgan 1-1); Rebounds: , BUTL 37 (R. Jones 8); Assists: , BUTL 19 (R. Clarke 3); Total Fouls -- , BUTL 16; Fouled Out: -; BUTL-None.