OPENING NIGHT: Butler will make its first
visit to Louisville in more than three decades when it heads south
to face the Cardinals in the first game in the new KFC Yum! Center
on Tuesday, Nov. 16. The non-league contest, which will be
nationally-televised on ESPN, is scheduled for an 8 p.m. (ET)
tip-off. Butler successfully opened the 2010-11 season at
home on Saturday (Nov. 13) with an 83-54 victory over NAIA foe
Marian. It was the Bulldogs’ fifth consecutive
season-opening victory. Louisville, coming off a 20-13
campaign, will be making its 2010-11 debut. Butler is making
its first visit to Louisville since 1972, when the Cardinals rolled
up a 90-67 decision. The two teams will meet again next
season at Butler’s Hinkle Fieldhouse. The Bulldogs, who
will return to Indianapolis to host Ball State on Saturday (Nov.
20), won their final nine road games a year
Butler was 12-1 on the road last season.
FAMILIAR FACES: Three players who lined up for the opening tip of last spring’s NCAA National Championship game against Duke headline this year’s Butler squad. Senior Matt Howard and junior Shelvin Mack started every Butler game last season, while junior Ronald Nored started all but five games. Howard was the team’s second-leading rebounder (5.2) and third leading scorer (11.6) last season, while Mack finished as the team’s second-leading scorer (14.1). Nored led the Bulldogs in assists (3.6) and steals (1.8) in 2009-10. Seniors Shawn Vanzant and Zach Hahn played in all 38 games a year ago, while junior Garrett Butcher saw action in 32 contests.
Butler returns 11 letterwinners from last year’s 33-5 team.
EARLY RECOGNITION: Butler, ranked No. 2 in the final ESPN/USA Today national poll a year ago, opened the 2010-11 season with a No. 17 ranking in the Associated Press (A.P.) preseason poll and a No. 18 ranking in the ESPN/USA Today preseason poll. The Bulldogs have been nationally-ranked in each of the past four seasons.
Butler began the season as a “Top 25” team for the second consecutive year and for the second time in school history.
TOP DOGS: Butler was ranked first in the initial CollegeInsider.com Mid-Major Top 25 poll. The Bulldogs received 16 first place votes and edged Gonzaga for the top spot. Butler was ranked No. 1 in the final CollegeInsider.com poll last season.
GRAND OPENING: All 14 Butler players saw action in the game and 12 cracked the scoring column in Butler’s season-opening victory over Marian. The Bulldogs took command with a 26-9 scoring run in the first 13 minutes of the first half, and the home squad stretched the lead to as many as 32 points in the second half. None of the Bulldogs played more than 28 minutes in the game, and only four Butler players saw as many as 20 minutes of action. It was the fourth consecutive season-opening victory under head coach Brad Stevens.
BACKCOURT LEADER: Junior Shelvin Mack started strongly in Butler’s 2010-11 debut, and he wound up leading all scorers in the game with 20 points. Mack scored 13 points in the first half on six of 10 shooting from the floor. He wound up hitting nine of 14 shots in the game, including two of four from beyond the three-point arc. It was the 20th time in his Butler career that Mack has topped the Bulldogs in scoring.
Shelvin Mack has scored 20 or more points in 13 career games.
PRESEASON HONORS: Shelvin Mack has already been recognized on several preseason All-America teams. Mack was chosen first team All-America, along with Kyle Singler of Duke, Harrison Barnes of North Carolina, Jared Sullinger of Ohio State and Jacob Pullen of Kansas State, by Fox Sports.com, and he was named honorable mention All-America by the Associated Press. The 6-3 Butler guard also was ranked fourth among top 2010-11 point guards and combo guards by Gary Parrish of CBS Sports.com, and he was named to the John Wooden Award 2010-11 Preseason Top 50 list.
FIRST DEFENSE: Butler picked up where it left off last spring with a solid performance at the defensive end of the floor in its season-opener. The Bulldogs forced 16 turnovers and limited Marian to 42% shooting, while yielding just 54 points. Last spring, Butler held five of six NCAA Tournament opponents below 60 points.
Butler was 20-0 in 2009-10 when holding its opponent below 60 points.
BENCH MARK: The Bulldogs picked up 40 bench points in their win over Marian. Sophomore Andrew Smith came off the bench with a career-high 10 points in 15 minutes, while freshmen Khyle Marshall added nine points in 14 minutes.
EXHIBITION LEADER: Senior Matt Howard averaged 15.5 points and 8.5 rebounds in Butler’s two exhibition wins. His 19 points against Florida Southern were the most by a Butler player in the two exhibition tests, as were his 10 rebounds against Hanover. The 6-8 forward, who had 12 points against Hanover, shot .632 (12-19) from the field and .778 (7-9) from the free throw line in the two games. Howard, who averaged just 22 minutes per game in the two contests, was the lone Bulldog to score in double-figures in each of the two exhibition games.
SCORING WATCH: Senior Matt Howard has moved into 15th place on Butler’s all-time scoring list with 1,337 career points. He trails Rylan Hainje (1998-2002) in 14th place on the all-time list by 51 points. Howard needs 148 points to reach the “Top 10” in all-time scoring at Butler.
•Butler was 1-1 against teams from the Big East in 2009-10. The Bulldogs dropped a 72-65 decision to #15/13 Georgetown in the Jimmy V. Classic at Madison Square Garden, before defeating #4 Syracuse, 63-59 in the “Sweet 16” of the NCAA Tournament.
•Senior Matt Howard, who had a game-high seven rebounds against Marian, has moved into 13th place on Butler’s all-time rebounding list with 606 career rebounds. He’s 19 rebounds behind J. P. Brens (1989-93) in the No. 12 position.
•Matt Howard, who had six points against Marian, has scored in 105 consecutive Butler games, every game of his collegiate career.
•Butler’s Matt Howard is one of 30 candidates nominated for the 2010-11 Lowe’s Senior CLASS Award. The award is presented to one senior who has shown notable achievement in four areas of excellence - classroom, character, community and competition.
•Junior Shelvin Mack will be playing in his home state for the first time in his Butler career. Mack, from Lexington, Ky., attended Bryan Station High School, and he was a two-year All-State performer and a member of the Kentucky All-Star Team, which faced Indiana during the summer.
•Shelvin Mack is closing in on becoming the 33rd Butler player to reach 1,000 career points. Mack enters the Louisville contest with 938 career tallies.
•Shelvin Mack has posted 131 career three-point field goals. He’s 27 three-pointers behind Darrin Fitzgerald (1986-87) in 10th place on Butler’s all-time list for three-point field goals.
•The Bulldogs are 29-4 when Shelvin Mack scores at least 14 points and 18-2 when he leads the team in scoring.
•Junior guard Ronald Nored had four steals in Butler’s season-opener, one shy of his career-high set against both Valparaiso and Syracuse last year. Nored led the Bulldogs in steals (67) last year.
•Junior Garrett Butcher made his first collegiate start in Butler’s season-opener against Marian. Butcher, who had off-season surgery on both knees, played in 64 games in his first two seasons with the Bulldogs.
•Butler’s starters were 5-9 (.556) from beyond the three-point arc against Marian.
•Butler has won its last 23 games when hitting at least nine three-point field goals. The Bulldogs are 40-1 under head coach Brad Stevens when hitting nine or more three-pointers.
•Butler is one of just three NCAA Division I schools to win at least 25 games in each of the last four seasons. The other two are Kansas and BYU.
•Butler head coach Brad Stevens landed four recruits on the first day of the NCAA’s fall signing period. Joining the Bulldogs’ 2011-12 freshman class were 6-4 Roosevelt Jones of O’Fallon, Ill., 6-1 Jackson Aldridge of Sydney, Australia, 6-6 Andy Smeathers of Bargersville (Center Grove H.S.) and 6-9 Kameron Woods of Louisville, Ky. (Eastern H.S.). Jones averaged 20 points and 12 rebounds for 30-4 O’Fallon last year, while Aldridge was a gold medal-winning point-guard on Australia’s U18 team. Smeathers, averaged 14 points for 17-4 Center Grove, while Woods averaged 7.0 points and 7.0 rebounds at Eastern, one of the top prep teams in Kentucky.