Bucknuts Mag Excerpts: Making His Point

A big reason for Ohio State's basketball success this year has been the emergence of sophomore guard Jamar Butler. A feature on Butler appeared in the latest edition of Bucknuts the Magazine, which we have for you in this week's version of Bucknuts Magazine Excerpts.

Each week, we post a new excerpt from the latest edition of Bucknuts The Magazine.

BTM has evolved from humble beginnings as a 32-page magazine into its current format as an 80-page magazine. It is published 10 times a year (monthly from September through April, then once in the Spring and Summer).

The magazine retails for $4.95 on newsstands. We also sell annual subscriptions to the magazine on the Internet for $39.95.

But the best deal going is our annual subscription bundle. For $99.95, you get a full year of BTM as well as access to all of the premium content and message boards on Bucknuts.com. Subscriptions to the web site, itself, are priced at $9.95 per month. So, for roughly $100 you receive the value of almost $160 between the web site and magazine.

In each issue of Bucknuts The Magazine, we have in-depth features on Ohio State football players, coaches and prospects. We also have analysis pieces on the Buckeyes as well as their opponents, the Big Ten and college football world in general. Plus, we have features on OSU athletes in a variety of sports, including men's and women's basketball, hockey, wrestling, baseball and other sports.

Order now! Click here for more on Bucknuts the Magazine.

Headline: Making His Point
By Steve Helwagen
(From Mar. 2006 issue)

It was a moment that came and went very quickly, but for Ohio State point guard Jamar Butler it spoke volumes.

The Buckeyes were playing Gardner-Webb in a late December game at Value City Arena. Butler, assigned to guard the G-W point guard, dove on the floor to knock the ball away and into the backcourt.

Then, with the ball skitting backwards, Butler got up, raced after the loose ball and dove on the floor again in an effort to retrieve it. The G-W guard recovered the ball, but the hounding pressure forced him into a turnover just a moment later.

Butler's relentless efforts were rewarded, and Ohio State head coach Thad Matta – who leaped off the bench to congratulate Butler at the ensuing timeout – could not have been any happier.

"The one thing you always know about Jamar Butler is he is always going to defend," Matta said. "I think he takes great pride in that. I think it's helped his overall game."

The 6-2 Butler has not always been known for his defense. A product of Lima Shawnee, it was Butler's offensive prowess that originally got him recognized by recruiters. He started every game in his four-year high school career. He ended up as the 10th-leading scorer in Ohio high school history with 2,412 points.

He committed to the University of Cincinnati during his junior year at Shawnee. He had a change of heart, though, in August 2003 just before his senior season and switched his commitment to Ohio State, which was led at that point by coach Jim O'Brien.

Butler showed he was worthy of the attention by Ohio's top two programs. As a senior, he averaged 31.6 points, 8.3 assists, 5.8 rebounds and 2.6 steals a game for Shawnee while shooting 44 percent from the field and 37 percent on three-pointers. He was named as Ohio's Mr. Basketball award winner by The Associated Press as well as Ohio High's Man of the Year in boys basketball.

There were high hopes for Butler as a freshman at Ohio State. But he spent the first two-thirds of the 2004-05 season playing behind senior Brandon Fuss-Cheatham at the point. Butler emerged late in the year, starting the season's last 12 games. He averaged 3.6 points and just over two assists per game as a freshman.

"I think Jamar, as we saw last year, felt his way through his freshman year," Matta said. "He took good care of the basketball. Last year, his assist-to-turnover ratio was 2-to-1. That was phenomenal for a freshman."

Matta said the light bulb went on for Butler midway through the season – kind of like hitting the wall, only in reverse.

"I think he learned that how he was going to get on the floor – by playing great defense," Matta said.

Butler discussed what it takes to be a good defender.

"It's about ball pressure," he said. "I try to put a lot of pressure on the ball and try to make the other guard feel uncomfortable. I have to get better off the ball, but I feel I can get better at that."

Matta added, "The biggest area he needs to continue to build on to become a great defender is off-the-ball awareness. If he gets that down, I think he can become a great defender. He's more comfortable offensively and defensively. He has played himself into being one of the best defenders in the country."

Butler admitted that it did take him a while to adapt to the college game. After being successful at the high school ranks, he said it is naïve of any freshman to believe he will step in and dominate right away at the college level.

"Everybody here is bigger and stronger," Butler said. "They are just as quick as you are. It is a lot harder to score. You have to defend at all times. If you can't defend, you can't play."

Determined to make a solid contribution – and start from the beginning of his sophomore year – Butler worked hard on his game during the off-season.

"He was a prolific scorer in high school, but he has come in and done what he had to do," said OSU center Terence Dials. "He worked hard in the off-season. I'm proud of him. He's come a long way. His confidence has soared. When you make shots, it's a big confidence booster and he has been hitting his shots. He has taken control of the team at the point guard position and got the team rolling."

Through the season's first 14 games, Butler was OSU's fifth-leading scorer at 8.8 points per game. He was also the Big Ten leader in the assist-to-turnover category at plus-3.7. He was second on the team in three-point shooting at 46.5 percent (20 of 43).

"I think the fact he is shooting the ball better has helped his offensive game," Matta said. "I think he understands better what we're trying to do offensively. He is seeing and adapting better to situations. It's just his decision making and timing, being safe with the ball and having a good handle. He does a good job of handling the halfcourt traps."

Matta said he would like to see Butler become even more assertive.

"The big thing we are working on with Jamar is for him to be even more aggressive with the ball," he said. "We are trying to get him to continue to attack. That will make him even more difficult to guard. He has settled into his role and is playing with a lot more confidence at both ends of the floor. He is a tough kid who brings it every single day. He sees the benefit of the hard work he is putting in. He worked hard in the off-season on his shot.

"We're trying to get him to talk and be a little bit more vocal, but he is leading by example."

Butler said he will take that advice to heart.

"I feel a lot more comfortable," he said. "I am trying to be more aggressive and attack more and just lead my team."

Senior forward J.J. Sullinger said he has noticed a big difference for Butler between last year and this season.

"Jamar is an awesome player," Sullinger said. "He plays extremely hard. He works extremely hard. He can definitely shoot the ball. People were kind of doubting him last year. But we never doubted him. We knew he could shoot the ball and what he could do for us this year."

The Buckeyes were trying to establish themselves as legitimate Big Ten contenders. Butler said OSU's strong senior leadership was a big part of that effort.

"This is a completely different team than last year," he said. "We have a lot of leadership from our seniors. With Je'Kel (Foster), J.J., Terence and Matt (Sylvester), they lead us pretty good. Foster will speak up and say what he needs to say. They do a good job of keeping us calm and keeping us together."
 


 

 



Buckeye Sports Top Stories

\r\n\r\n

 \r\n

\r\n
\r\n","mobileBody":"

Each week, we post a new excerpt from the latest edition of Bucknuts The Magazine.

\r\n

BTM has evolved from humble beginnings as a 32-page magazine into its current\r\nformat as an 80-page magazine. It is published 10 times a year (monthly from\r\nSeptember through April, then once in the Spring and Summer).

\r\n

The magazine retails for $4.95 on newsstands. We also sell annual\r\nsubscriptions to the magazine on the Internet for $39.95.

\r\n

But the best deal going is our annual subscription bundle. For $99.95, you\r\nget a full year of BTM as well as access to all of the premium content and\r\nmessage boards on Bucknuts.com. Subscriptions to the web site, itself, are\r\npriced at $9.95 per month. So, for roughly $100 you receive the value of almost\r\n$160 between the web site and magazine.

\r\n

In each issue of Bucknuts The Magazine, we have in-depth features on Ohio State football players, coaches and prospects. We also have analysis pieces on\r\nthe Buckeyes as well as their opponents, the Big Ten and college football world\r\nin general. Plus, we have features on OSU athletes in a variety of sports,\r\nincluding men's and women's basketball, hockey, wrestling, baseball and other\r\nsports.

\r\n

Order now! Click here for more on Bucknuts the Magazine.\r\n

Headline: Making His Point
By Steve Helwagen
(From Mar. 2006 issue)

It was a moment that came and went very quickly, but for Ohio State point guard Jamar Butler it spoke volumes.

The Buckeyes were playing Gardner-Webb in a late December game at Value City Arena. Butler, assigned to guard the G-W point guard, dove on the floor to knock the ball away and into the backcourt.

Then, with the ball skitting backwards, Butler got up, raced after the loose ball and dove on the floor again in an effort to retrieve it. The G-W guard recovered the ball, but the hounding pressure forced him into a turnover just a moment later.

Butler's relentless efforts were rewarded, and Ohio State head coach Thad Matta – who leaped off the bench to congratulate Butler at the ensuing timeout – could not have been any happier.

\"The one thing you always know about Jamar Butler is he is always going to defend,\" Matta said. \"I think he takes great pride in that. I think it's helped his overall game.\"

The 6-2 Butler has not always been known for his defense. A product of Lima Shawnee, it was Butler's offensive prowess that originally got him recognized by recruiters. He started every game in his four-year high school career. He ended up as the 10th-leading scorer in Ohio high school history with 2,412 points.

He committed to the University of Cincinnati during his junior year at Shawnee. He had a change of heart, though, in August 2003 just before his senior season and switched his commitment to Ohio State, which was led at that point by coach Jim O'Brien.

Butler showed he was worthy of the attention by Ohio's top two programs. As a senior, he averaged 31.6 points, 8.3 assists, 5.8 rebounds and 2.6 steals a game for Shawnee while shooting 44 percent from the field and 37 percent on three-pointers. He was named as Ohio's Mr. Basketball award winner by The Associated Press as well as Ohio High's Man of the Year in boys basketball.

There were high hopes for Butler as a freshman at Ohio State. But he spent the first two-thirds of the 2004-05 season playing behind senior Brandon Fuss-Cheatham at the point. Butler emerged late in the year, starting the season's last 12 games. He averaged 3.6 points and just over two assists per game as a freshman.

\"I think Jamar, as we saw last year, felt his way through his freshman year,\" Matta said. \"He took good care of the basketball. Last year, his assist-to-turnover ratio was 2-to-1. That was phenomenal for a freshman.\"

Matta said the light bulb went on for Butler midway through the season – kind of like hitting the wall, only in reverse.

\"I think he learned that how he was going to get on the floor – by playing great defense,\" Matta said.

Butler discussed what it takes to be a good defender.

\"It's about ball pressure,\" he said. \"I try to put a lot of pressure on the ball and try to make the other guard feel uncomfortable. I have to get better off the ball, but I feel I can get better at that.\"

Matta added, \"The biggest area he needs to continue to build on to become a great defender is off-the-ball awareness. If he gets that down, I think he can become a great defender. He's more comfortable offensively and defensively. He has played himself into being one of the best defenders in the country.\"

Butler admitted that it did take him a while to adapt to the college game. After being successful at the high school ranks, he said it is naïve of any freshman to believe he will step in and dominate right away at the college level.

\"Everybody here is bigger and stronger,\" Butler said. \"They are just as quick as you are. It is a lot harder to score. You have to defend at all times. If you can't defend, you can't play.\"

Determined to make a solid contribution – and start from the beginning of his sophomore year – Butler worked hard on his game during the off-season.

\"He was a prolific scorer in high school, but he has come in and done what he had to do,\" said OSU center Terence Dials. \"He worked hard in the off-season. I'm proud of him. He's come a long way. His confidence has soared. When you make shots, it's a big confidence booster and he has been hitting his shots. He has taken control of the team at the point guard position and got the team rolling.\"

Through the season's first 14 games, Butler was OSU's fifth-leading scorer at 8.8 points per game. He was also the Big Ten leader in the assist-to-turnover category at plus-3.7. He was second on the team in three-point shooting at 46.5 percent (20 of 43).

\"I think the fact he is shooting the ball better has helped his offensive game,\" Matta said. \"I think he understands better what we're trying to do offensively. He is seeing and adapting better to situations. It's just his decision making and timing, being safe with the ball and having a good handle. He does a good job of handling the halfcourt traps.\"

Matta said he would like to see Butler become even more assertive.

\"The big thing we are working on with Jamar is for him to be even more aggressive with the ball,\" he said. \"We are trying to get him to continue to attack. That will make him even more difficult to guard. He has settled into his role and is playing with a lot more confidence at both ends of the floor. He is a tough kid who brings it every single day. He sees the benefit of the hard work he is putting in. He worked hard in the off-season on his shot.

\"We're trying to get him to talk and be a little bit more vocal, but he is leading by example.\"

Butler said he will take that advice to heart.

\"I feel a lot more comfortable,\" he said. \"I am trying to be more aggressive and attack more and just lead my team.\"

Senior forward J.J. Sullinger said he has noticed a big difference for Butler between last year and this season.

\"Jamar is an awesome player,\" Sullinger said. \"He plays extremely hard. He works extremely hard. He can definitely shoot the ball. People were kind of doubting him last year. But we never doubted him. We knew he could shoot the ball and what he could do for us this year.\"

The Buckeyes were trying to establish themselves as legitimate Big Ten contenders. Butler said OSU's strong senior leadership was a big part of that effort.

\"This is a completely different team than last year,\" he said. \"We have a lot of leadership from our seniors. With Je'Kel (Foster), J.J., Terence and Matt (Sylvester), they lead us pretty good. Foster will speak up and say what he needs to say. They do a good job of keeping us calm and keeping us together.\"
 


 

 


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