Butler Faces Franklin In Final Exhibition Test
FINAL CHECK: Butler will try to bounce back from an opening-game setback when it hosts Franklin in a second exhibition contest on Saturday, Nov. 5. The game at Hinkle Fieldhouse, which starts at 7 p.m. (ET), will be Butler's final preseason test. The Bulldogs, playing for the first time since the 2011 NCAA Division I national championship game, fell to visiting Northern State (S.D.), 53-50, on a last-second shot on Wednesday (Nov. 2). The game was the debut for the 2011-12 Butler squad, which features eight returning letterwinners and six newcomers. Gone from last year's 28-10 team, which won the Horizon League regular season and tournament championships and advanced to the national title game for a second straight year, are starters Matt Howard, Shelvin Mack and Shawn Vanzant, top reserve Zach Hahn and four-year letterwinners Grant Leiendecker and Alex Anglin. Howard finished his career as Butler's third all-time leading scorer and rebounder, while Mack was taken by the Washington Wizards in the second round of the NBA Draft. The Bulldogs have just two seniors on this year's squad and just five players who boast more than one season of experience.
Butler will open the 2011-12 season at Evansville on Nov. 12.
LONG HISTORY: Butler and Franklin will be meeting for the first time in more than six decades, but the two central Indiana schools were formerly frequent foes on the hardcourt. The two teams last met at Hinkle Fieldhouse in 1946, and Butler prevailed, 61-58. Prior to that meeting, Butler and Franklin played 63 times. The Bulldogs, who have won the last 15 meetings between the two teams, lead the all-time series, 46-18. The Grizzlies' last win came in 1937-38 in Franklin, 39-26.
EXHIBITION OPENER: Northern State, playing its third game in four days, rallied from a nine-point deficit in the final five minutes and stunned a Butler crowd of 5,544 with a game-winning three-point field goal at the buzzer on Wednesday (Nov. 2). The Bulldogs took a 50-41 lead on a basket by freshman Roosevelt Jones with 4:35 remaining in the contest, but that turned out to be Butler's final points. The visiting Wolves closed the game with a 12-0 scoring run, capped by a three-pointer by senior guard Alex Thomas. Northern State held the ball for the last shot, and Thomas delivered from the top of the key as the final buzzer sounded. It gave the Wolves their first win on the three-game tour.
SOLID START: Junior Andrew Smith, who started 32 games for the Bulldogs a year ago, led both teams with 19 points and eight rebounds in Butler's exhibition opener. The 6-11 center his five of nine shots from the floor, including his first collegiate three-point field goal, and eight of 12 from the free throw line. He also had an assist and three blocked shots in 30 minutes of action. Smith was Butler's third-leading scorer (8.5) and second-leading rebounder (5.6) last season. He finished second in the Horizon League in field goal shooting (.593).
BULLDOG BITS: Senior Ronald Nored (left) has been named to the 25-player Lou Henson Preseason All-America Team. The team honors the top Mid-Major players in the nation. Nored joined Detroit's Ray McCallum as the lone Horizon League players selected to this year's preseason squad. Butler's Matt Howard was named the Lou Henson Player of the Year in 2010-11...Sophomore Chrishawn Hopkins sat out Butler's exhibition opener with concussion symptoms, and the remains doubtful for the Franklin game. Hopkins played in 21 games a year ago as a freshman...Butler head coach Brad Stevens used 11 different players in the Bulldogs' exhibition opener, and five of those players, freshmen Kameron Woods, Andrew Smeathers, Jackson Aldridge, Roosevelt Jones and Elliott Kampen, were seeing their first collegiate action.