April 30, 2010

Bulldogs Compile Season For The Ages

ROCK SOLID:  During the team’s training trip to Italy in the summer of 2009, Butler’s players had an opportunity to visit The Coliseum in Rome.  There, a guide told the Bulldogs about how the historic facility was built to last.  That concept, Build for Eternity, became a motto for the 2009-10 Bulldogs and a goal that they ultimately accomplished.  Butler’s run to the Final Four capped a season that saw the Bulldogs rewrite the school record book and compile a ledger unmatched in Butler basketball history.  The Bulldogs became the first team in school and Horizon League history to reach the Final Four, and, subsequently, the first team to advance to the national championship game.  They won more postseason tournament games than any other team in school and league history, and their final 33-5 record was the best in school and league annals!  Butler became the first team in Horizon League history to post a perfect 18-0 regular season record, while winning its fourth consecutive league title, and the Bulldogs added two more wins on the way to winning the Horizon League Tournament championship.  No other NCAA Division I team won every conference game in 2009-10!  The Bulldogs won 26 regular season games, matching the second-most in school history, and Butler compiled the nation’s longest winning streak with 25 consecutive victories from Dec. 23, 2009 to April 3, 2010.  Butler ended the season with a No. 2 ranking in the ESPN/USA Today poll, the highest ranking ever achieved by a team in the Horizon League!                      

Butler was the only team in the nation to go unbeaten in January, February and March of 2010.

WINS MARK:  Butler broke its own school and Horizon League record for victories in a season with its 33 wins in 2009-10.  The previous school and league record of 30 wins was set by the Bulldogs in 2007-08.  Butler owns the top three single season win totals in Horizon League history - 33 (2009-10), 30 (2007-08) and 29 (2006-07).

BONUS SEASON:  Butler advanced to post-season tournament play for the 12th time in 14 years.  The Bulldogs earned bids to the NCAA Men’s Basketball Championship in 1997, 1998, 2000, 2001, 2003, 2007, 2008, 2009 and 2010, and to the National Invitational Tournament (NIT) in 1999, 2002 and 2006.  Butler’s post-season record since 1997 is 15-12 (11-9 NCAA, 4-3 NIT).

RECORD RUN:  Butler’s 118 wins over the past four seasons have set a school and Horizon League record for most wins in four consecutive years.  The Bulldogs also own the Horizon League’s two-year (59, 2006-08 & 2008-10) and three-year (89, 2007-10) records for victories.

The Bulldogs have won at least 26 games in four consecutive seasons.
 
STREAKING ‘DOGS:  Butler stretched the nation’s longest 2009-10 winning streak to 25 straight games with its victory over Michigan State in the national semifinals.  The Bulldogs lost a game on Dec. 22 at UAB and then didn’t fall again until the NCAA national championship game against Duke.  The 25-game streak shattered Butler’s previous record for longest winning streak (15 consecutive victories in 1999-00) and topped the previous Horizon League record of 23 straight wins by Green Bay in 1995-96.

LEAGUE LEADER:  Butler became the first team in Horizon League history to post an 18-0 league record and just the fourth team in league history to finish with an unbeaten mark.  Loyola was 5-0 in the league’s first season (1979-80), Xavier finished 14-0 in 1994-95 and Green Bay was 16-0 in 1995-96.  Butler’s six-game margin over second place Wright State in the final league standings was the largest in league history.

Butler has won 20 consecutive Horizon League regular season games.

NATIONAL SCENE:  Butler wound up tied with Kansas for third place in the NCAA Division I in total wins in 2009-10.  National champ Duke and Kentucky shared the top spot with 35 victories each, while the Bulldogs and Kansas each posted 33 wins.  Butler finished fourth in Division I in winning percentage at .868, trailing Kentucky (.921), Kansas (.917) and Duke (.875).

SUSTAINED EFFORT:  The Bulldogs reached the 20-win plateau for the 12th time in the past 14 years and for the fifth consecutive season.  Butler also hit the 20-win mark for regular season victories for the fourth straight season and for the sixth time in school history.  The Bulldogs are the only team in Horizon League history to record five or more consecutive 20-win seasons, and they’ve done it twice (1997-2003 and 2006-2010)!

The Bulldogs are the first team in Horizon League history to record at least 25 wins in four consecutive seasons.  
 
POLLING DATA:  The Bulldogs had an interesting, roller-coaster ride in the Associated Press (writers) and ESPN/USA Today (coaches) national polls in 2009-10.  For the first time in school history, Butler was ranked in both preseason polls, starting at No. 11 in the A.P. poll and No. 10 in the ESPN/USA Today poll.  But in December, after a fourth loss (three to Top 25 teams and one to a team that subsequently entered the Top 25), the Bulldogs were bounced out of the writers’ Top 25 and fell to as low as No. 24 in the coaches’ poll.  A month later, following 10 consecutive victories, Butler returned to the A.P. poll at No. 23 and climbed back to No. 15 in the ESPN/USA Today poll.  The Bulldogs continued to climb and wound up right where they started in the writers’ poll (No. 11), while cracking the “Top 10” (No. 8) in the coaches’ poll in the final pre-tournament voting.  Butler ultimately reached No. 2 in the postseason ESPN/USA Today poll.  The Bulldogs were nationally ranked for 19 consecutive weeks in the coaches’ poll and for 14 of 19 weeks in the writers’ poll.

Butler has been ranked in the “Top 25” each year since 2006-07.

LEAD ROLE:  Butler head coach Brad Stevens took over the No. 1 spot on the NCAA Division I list for Best Career Starts By Wins, 3 seasons.  Stevens has 89 wins in his young career, eight more than the previous record shared by Mark Few (Gonzaga) and Mark Fox (Nevada).  The 33-year-old coach, who’s guided Butler to two 30-win seasons, boasts an .856 winning percentage.  

FIRST DEFENSE:  The Bulldogs became just the fourth team in NCAA Tournament history (the first since the addition of the shot clock in 1985-86) to hold its first five opponents below 60 points.  Butler limited Murray State (52), Syracuse (59) and Kansas State (56) to season-low scoring totals and held Michigan State to its second-lowest point total of the season (50).  The Bulldogs, who led the Horizon League in scoring defense (59.4), held 12 of their final 14 foes below 60 points.

Butler was 20-0 in 2009-10 when holding its opponent below 60 points.

THIRD CHOICE:  Butler’s sophomore duo of Gordon Hayward and Shelvin Mack each picked up three All-Tournament certificates during Butler’s 2010 postseason.  Both were named to the All-Tournament teams at the Horizon League Men’s Basketball Championship, the NCAA Men’s Basketball Championship West Regional and at the 2010 Final Four.  Hayward, further, was named the Most Outstanding Player at the West Regional.

RECORD APPEARANCE:  Senior Willie Veasley set a Butler record for most NCAA Tournament games played when he stepped on the court for the opening tip of the 2010 National Championship game against Duke.  It was his 11th appearance in an NCAA tournament contest.  Veasley, who also set a Butler record for career games played (134) in the Duke contest, became the first Butler player to see action in four consecutive NCAA Men’s Basketball Championships.

Willie Veasley helped Butler to a school-record 118 wins in four seasons.

SMART APPROACH:  Butler became the seventh team in NCAA history and the first in 12 years to reach the national championship game with a roster that included two Academic All-Americans (Matt Howard & Gordon Hayward).  The other schools to have achieved the unique feat are UCLA (1972 & 1973), Kentucky (1975), Marquette (1977), Duke (1978) and Utah (1998).

PROPER PREPARATION:  Nine of Butler’s 2009-10 regular season non-league opponents eventually reached post-season tournament play.  Ohio State, Xavier, Minnesota, Clemson, Georgetown and Siena each advanced to the NCAA Tournament, while UAB and Northwestern received bids to the NIT.  Green Bay participated in the College Basketball Invitational (CBI).  Butler was 6-4 against the nine tournament foes.  
 
ELITE FOES:  The Bulldogs defeated seven conference champions in 2009-10, including champs of the Big East and Big Ten.  Butler posted victories over Syracuse (Big East), Ohio State (Big Ten), Michigan State (Big Ten), Xavier (Atlantic 10), UTEP (Conference USA), Murray State (Ohio Valley) and Siena (MAAC).  The Bulldogs faced nine teams in 2009-10 that were ranked in the “Top 25” at the time of the game and two more that subsequently entered the national rankings.

GRAND ACCOMPLISHMENT:  Junior Matt Howard, who became the 32nd Butler player to score 1,000 career points earlier this season, boosted his career scoring total to 1,331 points at the Final Four.  He’ll enter his senior season in 17th place on Butler’s all-time scoring list, three points behind Tom Bowman (1960-63) and Thomas Jackson (1998-2002) in a tie for 15th place.

TOP CHOICE:  Sophomore Gordon Hayward, who led the Bulldogs in both scoring and rebounding, became the fourth Butler player in five seasons to be named Horizon League Player of the Year.  He followed teammate Matt Howard (2008-09), Mike Green (2007-08) and Brandon Polk (2005-06) as recipient of the league’s top individual honor.  Hayward became the seventh Butler player all-time to be named Horizon League Player of the Year.

LEAGUE FIRST:  Butler’s success during the regular season translated into three Bulldogs being named first team All-Horizon League in 2009-10.  Junior Matt Howard and sophomore Gordon Hayward each earned first team recognition for the second straight year, while sophomore Shelvin Mack captured his initial first team certificate.  It was the first time that one team had three players named to a five-player All-Horizon League first team.

DEPT. OF DEFENSE:  Sophomore Ronald Nored was named Horizon League Co-Defensive Player of the Year (with Detroit’s Woody Payne), and senior Willie Veasley earned a spot on the league’s All-Defensive Team selected by conference coaches.  The two helped Butler to the No. 1 spot in the league in team scoring defense.

Butler had all five starters recognized on the All-League Team for the first time.

COACHING RECOGNITION:  For the second consecutive season, Butler’s Brad Stevens was named Horizon League Coach of the Year.  Stevens, who’s guided Butler to three league titles in three seasons, became the fifth coach in league history to capture the award in back-to-back years, following Pete Gillen of Xavier (1993-94), Barry Collier of Butler (1999-2000), Bruce Pearl of Milwaukee (2002-03) and Todd Lickliter of Butler (2006-07).

ALL-DISTRICT:  Butler had three players named to the National Association of Basketball Coaches (NABC) All-District 12 Team.  Sophomores Gordon Hayward and Shelvin Mack were selected to the first team on the coaches’ honor squad, while junior Matt Howard was picked to the second team.  The Bulldogs were the only team to have three players named to the All-District 12 squad.  Howard was a first team All-District 12 player a year ago, while Hayward was named to the second team in 2008-09.  Mack earned All-District recognition for the first time.   Earlier, Butler coach Brad Stevens was named NABC All-District 12 Coach of the Year, while Hayward was chosen to the All-District V team by the U.S. Basketball Writers Association.

NCAA TOURNAMENT NOTES:

•Butler was the fourth team from a non-BCS conference to advance to the Final Four since 1996, when UMass of the Atlantic 10 made it.  George Mason of the Colonial Athletic Association advanced in 2006, while Memphis of Conference USA reached the championship game in 2008.

•The Bulldogs were the only team in this year’s NCAA Tournament to defeat both a No. 1 and No. 2 seed.  Butler eliminated No. 1 Syracuse in the semifinals of the West Regional, and, two days later, defeated No. 2 Kansas State for the regional title.

•A crowd of 70,930 was on hand for the national championship game between Butler and Duke at Lucas Oil Stadium.  It was the second-largest crowd ever to see the NCAA title game.

•The national championship game between Butler and Duke was the highest rated title game on CBS since 1999.  The game featured seven ties and 15 lead changes.

•Butler, which had trailed at halftime in its first two tournament games, led at halftime in both games in Salt Lake City.  The Bulldogs were tied at halftime with Michigan State in the national semifinals, and Butler trailed Duke by a point at half in the national championship game.

•Sophomore Gordon Hayward led the Bulldogs in scoring in the team’s last four NCAA Tournament games.  He set a Butler NCAA Tournament record with 95 points in six games.

•Gordon Hayward scored a game-high 22 points against Kansas State.  It was his first 20-point scoring performance since Feb. 11, when he tallied 22 against Youngstown State.  His 22 points tied the fifth-highest single game scoring total in Butler NCAA tournament history.

•Gordon Hayward boosted his career NCAA rebounding total to 48, a Butler all-time record.  He had 17 rebounds at the Final Four.

•Butler held Syracuse to a season-low 25 points in the first half.  The 59 total points in the game matched the season-low by the Orange (Syracuse also scored 59 points in a two-point win over DePaul).

•The Bulldogs improved to 23-1 this season when leading at halftime with their two victories in Salt Lake City.

•Butler had 20 steals in its two games in Salt Lake City, including a season-high 13 against Syracuse.  The Bulldogs had 48 steals in six tournament games.

•Butler didn’t commit its first turnover against Syracuse until the 3:25 mark of the first half.  At the time, the Bulldogs had a 31-21 lead over the Orange.

•The Bulldogs limited Kansas State to a season-low 56 points.  It was the only time in 2009-10 that the Wildcats were held under 60 points.

•The Bulldogs matched their season-low with just six turnovers in the victory over Murray State.  Butler had 10 or fewer turnovers in five of its six tournament games.

•Sophomore Shelvin Mack scored in double-figures in all six of Butler’s NCAA Tournament games this year, and he became Butler’s all-time NCAA Tournament scoring leader with 110 career points.

•Sophomore Ronald Nored tied his career-high with five steals against Syracuse.  He finished with 16 steals in six tournament games, the 11th-highest total in NCAA Tournament history.

•Ronald Nored had 20 assists in the Bulldogs’ six games in the 2010 NCAA Tournament, setting a Butler tournament record.  He also became Butler’s all-time NCAA tournament assist leader with 23.  

•The Bulldogs’ 18-point win over UTEP was the second-largest margin of victory by a Butler team in NCAA Tournament play, and it matched the second-largest margin ever by a team from the Horizon League.  Butler defeated South Alabama, 81-61, in the first round of the 2008 tournament, the Bulldogs’ first tournament game under head coach Brad Stevens, for the largest Butler/Horizon League margin.  Former Horizon League member Xavier beat New Orleans by 18 (73-55) points in the 1993 tournament.  The win over UTEP was Butler’s fourth victory by double-figures in all-time NCAA Tournament play.

•Butler’s 50 points in the second half against UTEP were a season-high for the Bulldogs, three more than the team’s previous best second half at UIC.

•Four different players contributed to a season-high 13 three-point field goals in Butler’s first round victory over UTEP.  Sophomore Shelvin Mack led the way with seven, while junior Zach Hahn came off the bench with three long-range shots.  Junior Shawn Vanzant added a pair of three-pointers and senior Willie Veasley had one.  Butler hit 10 three-point field goals in the final 20 minutes.  

•The Bulldogs set a Butler NCAA Tournament record for three-point field goal attempts with 31 against UTEP.  The previous mark was 28 against Cincinnati in 1997 and South Alabama in 2008.

•Butler made more free throws (88) during the 2010 NCAA Tournament than its opponents attempted (83).

BULLDOG BITS:  

•Butler is the only school in the Horizon League to have won four consecutive regular season championships, and the Bulldogs have done it twice (2000-03, 2007-10).

•The Bulldogs led the Horizon League in scoring margin in 2009-10, winning their 33 games by an average of 9.3 points.

•Butler posted the second-highest total for steals in school history with 267.  The school-record of 269 was set in 1990-91.

•Sophomore Gordon Hayward wound up fifth in the Horizon League in scoring (15.5) and third in rebounding (8.2).  He was the only player to rank in the “Top 5” in both categories.

•Gordon Hayward posted the sixth-highest single season rebounding total (305) in Butler basketball history.

•Gordon Hayward led the Horizon League in defensive rebounds with 233 (6.3 pg) in 2009-10.

•Gordon Hayward averaged a team-best 14.9 points during the squad’s 25-game winning streak.  He scored 20 or more points five times during the streak.  Hayward also topped the team in rebounding (7.8) during the streak.

•Gordon Hayward finished third on Butler’s all-time list for sophomore scoring with 572 points, while Shelvin Mack moved into the No. 4 spot with 536 points.  Both players passed teammate Matt Howard (475) on the all-time list.

•Gordon Hayward led the Horizon League in free throws made with 179, while teammate Matt Howard finished second with 178.  Hayward wound up fifth in the league in free throw percentage (.829), while Howard finished tenth (.784).

•Matt Howard became Butler’s all-time leader for free throws made during this year’s NCAA Tournament.  He boosted his career total to 490, breaking the previous school record (477) set by Bobby Plump, 1954-58.

•Matt Howard finished sixth on Butler’s single season list for free throws made with 178.

•Matt Howard and Shelvin Mack each started a Butler record 38 games.

•Shelvin Mack scored in double-figures in Butler’s final 10 games in 2009-10, and he shared the team lead (with teammate Gordon Hayward) with 32 games in double-figures on the season.

•Butler improved to 28-4 when Shelvin Mack scores at least 14 points in a game, and 17-2 when he leads the team in scoring.

•Butler had two of the top six players in field goal percentage in the Horizon League.  Senior Willie Veasley finished fifth (.481),  while junior Matt Howard was sixth (.481).

•Willie Veasley broke Butler’s career record for games played.  He finished his Butler career with 134 games.

•Willie Veasley was named to the 11th Annual All-Glue Team, selected by Seth Davis (SI.com), recognizing players who “do everything to win.”  The other four players chosen were David Lighty of Ohio State, Chris Kramer of Purdue, Reggie Redding of Villanova and Rick Jackson of Syracuse.

•Sophomore Ronald Nored wound up third in the Horizon League in assist/turnover ratio (1.8) and seventh in assists (3.6).

•Ronald Nored finished fifth in the Horizon League in steals (1.8).  His 67 steals on the season were seven shy of the school-record set by Thomas Jackson in 2001-02.

•Ronald Nored posted the 11th-highest single season assist total (136) in Butler basketball history.  He finished one assist shy of Thomas Jackson (2000-01) in 10th place on the single season list.

•Junior Zach Hahn wound up fifth in the Horizon League in three-point field goal shooting (.414).  Hahn shot .429 (36-84) from the three-point arc during Butler’s 25-game winning streak.

•Butler has won its last 23 games when hitting at least nine three-point field goals.  The Bulldogs, who hit 13 three-pointers against UTEP in the NCAA Tournament, are 40-1 under head coach Brad Stevens when hitting nine or more three-pointers.

•Butler was 23-1 this season when leading at halftime.