Indianapolis (IN) - InsideTheDawgPound takes a look back at the exhibition opener against Nova Southeastern to see what we learned.
Elijah Brown Needs to Play - We already kind of knew this though. After being a 3-star recruit out of Mater Dei (CA) High School, Brown had little expectations on his shoulders when he stepped onto campus. Now, after two great performances during his first two games at Hinkle Fieldhouse, the expectations and excitement are at an all-time high.
When Roosevelt Jones went down to injury this summer there was some panic from Butler fans. Who was going to replace the scoring? The rebounding for the small forward position? The clutch plays? Who would complement Kellen Dunham on the perimeter? The answer to all of these questions could Elijah Brown.
Brown played well once again. He stuffed the stat sheet during his 15 minutes on the floor. The freshman guard finished with 11 points on 3/5 from the floor (2/4 3PT, 3/3 FT). He also collected 5 assists and 4 rebounds during his 15 minutes on the court.
Brown was the first Butler player to come off the bench for the Bulldogs and provided an instant impact on the game. He scored 8 straight points upon entering the game early in the 1st half, which helped continue a 32-8 run, which gave Butler the game.
There is no question that Brown needs to find minutes on the court. Whether he is starting, or coming off the bench, will be the next question that needs to be answer.
Point Guard Battle Continues - The point guard race continues to drag on into the beginning of the season. During the team trip to Australia, and throughout preseason camp, Alex Barlow, Rene Castro, and Jackson Aldridge have battled for playing time at the point guard position, but Barlow seems to have the advantage now.
Barlow started at the guard spot opposite sophomore Kellen Dunham in the exhibition opener. He is known for his defensive prowess, but lacks the offensive punch from the lead guard position. Barlow finished with just 2 points on 1/3 from the field. He handed out one assists, but turned the ball over once as well.
Rene Castro was the first to test his hand at the point guard position and he played fairly well off the bench. The freshman logged the most minutes on the floor of all the point guards with 17 minutes and looked relatively comfortable running the team. Castro finished with 4 points on 1/3 shooting from the field as well. He dished out two assists and didn't turn the ball over at all.
Jackson Aldridge looked as good as he has in a Butler uniform on Tuesday night. The junior guard had a great sequence during his time on the floor when he threw an alley-oop to senior Khyle Marshall and also hit two 3-pointers in a four possession stretch. He finished with 8 points on 2/2 shooting from the floor (2/2 3PT). He also had two assists and just one turnover.
All three point guards had their bright spots on Tuesday night. Aldridge showed that he is the best shooter of the bunch, while Castro is the best facilitator, and Barlow is the best defender. If one player doesn't step up head coach Brandon Miller is going to have to ride the hot hand during the season.
Hot Shooting Hides Flaws - A lot can be said for how well the Bulldogs shot the ball against the Sharks. The Bulldogs finished 33/54 (61.1%) from the field and connected on 12/21 from the 3-point line. If Butler shoots that well throughout the season, they will be difficult to stop.
While the offensive numbers were nice some other things stood out that need to draw attention from the coaches.
Rebounding was one area that left something to be desired, especially during the 1st half. Despite having a decided height advantage, Butler out-rebounded NSU 20-14 in the 1st half, but allowed the Sharks to grab 7 offensive rebounds, while only collecting 3 offensive rebounds of their own.
Another area for improvement is from the charity stripe. Butler needs to improve on their free-throws to close out games. Granted, the best free-throw shooter on the team, Kellen Dunham, didn't play much during the 2nd half, but the team shot just 11/20 (55%) from the stripe. The Bulldogs will need to improve on their free-throw shooting down the stretch in order to close out games.