INDIANAPOLIS (IN) - InsideTheDawgPound takes a look back at the win over Purdue and what we learned about the Bulldogs.
Kellen Dunham is a legitimate Big East Player-of-the-Year candidate
Sophomore Kellen Dunham has come into his own. The talented guard is leading the Bulldogs in scoring at 19.3 points per game and is the Bulldogs true leader on the court.
Against Purdue, Dunham played in 36 minutes scoring 25 points on 8/16 shooting including 2/4 from three. He hit 7/10 free throws, including two uncharacteristic misses in the final minute. Not only did he score but he filled out his stat sheet collected 4 rebounds, 1 assist, 1 steal, and an impressive block on Ronnie Johnson.
At times this season he seems to be unstoppable from the perimeter. His game has come full circle. If you close out on him too quickly he will drive past you. If you give him the most minute opening he will drain a jumper. His stability at the free throw line makes him that much more difficult to keep from scoring.
Butler is not the 9th best team in the Big East
Barring an injury or complete meltdown, Butler will not be finishing where they were picked by the media in the Big East. The Bulldogs have shown that they are a top tier Big East team this season. While they don't have some of the athletes that teams like Providence, St. John's, or Georgetown have, they are a better team than the sum of their parts.
Butler has played close games or beaten a number of high-major programs this year. The Bulldogs have beaten Vanderbilt (5-3), Washington State (5-4), and Purdue (8-3), while losing to #7 Oklahoma State (9-1) and LSU (6-2) by two each. Princeton (8-1) is also in the top 50 of the RPI.
Those quality wins have Butler ranked at #37 in the RPI (according to RealtimeRPI.com) and have the Bulldogs included in the his latest Bracketology projection as just six spaces outside the tournament as an at-large.
With the way Butler is coming together as a team, the Bulldogs are not the 9th best team in the Big East.
Need to fix the press break
The pressure was getting to the Bulldogs. Purdue cut a double-digit lead to just four points with under 30 seconds remaining in the game. It looked as though an easy win could be in jeopardy. Luckily Butler had a big enough lead to hang on against the Boilermakers and time ran out.
Butler has struggled during the non-conference schedule when they are pressed. With quality ball handlers on the floor, the Bulldogs continue to commit turnovers and make bad decisions. They should return to their press break of old.
It seems as though when Butler had Matt Howard and others they would use a press break where the big man would run from the half-court line to the middle of the paint and receive the inbounds pass. The forward would distribute to a guard and the Bulldogs would break presses easily. Now the Bulldogs to struggle on every possession.
Butler needs to sure up this part of their offense in order for the Bulldogs to put teams away otherwise they could see a lead slip through their hands.