Men's basketball: Butch at his best

Redshirt freshman builds confidence after solid performance

Only Brian Butch really knows if Wednesday's game against Northwestern was a statement after week-long talk involving the ESPN controversy, which started when reporter Doug Gottlieb referred to the freshman forward as the most overrated player in the Big Ten. Either way, Butch played perhaps his most complete game as a Badger in Wisconsin's 73-58 victory over Northwestern Wednesday night. After a slow start, he seems to be heading in the direction everyone has expected.

Butch started timidly with two early turnovers, but after missing his first shot, Butch made his next two shots from behind the arc, giving him confidence in his 14 minutes of playing time.

Wisconsin coach Bo Ryan said he was pleased to see Butch's development throughout the game.

"You got to like a guy who gets his arm smacked inside then steps outside and says ‘Here come smack this' basically and he goes out and hits two threes," Ryan said.

Butch finished with a career-high 12 points, including 4-of-5 from the free throw line and grabbed five rebounds (four offensive). Perhaps most satisfying for the crowd was how he seemed to settle down after some early anxious-ridden play and how he fed off the Kohl Center crowd, which roared appreciatively on every possession.

"It's a lot easier when that first shot goes down," Butch said. "It's one of those things as a player that you like that … I feel like I'm getting better every game. My confidence is coming."

Always searching for more from his players, Ryan said he was not about to get caught up in Butch's performance and sees it as a step in the right direction heading into the second half of the Big Ten season.

"He's young yet," Ryan said. "He's got a lot to learn, so we won't get carried away. In the post he needed to be a little stronger, which he's working on … We just hope he keeps getting better."


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