Bulldogs Face Cleveland State For League Championship

March 10, 2008

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TITLE MATCH: No. 1 seed Butler and No. 2 seed Cleveland State will square off for the 2008 Horizon League Men's Basketball Tournament crown and an automatic bid to the NCAA Men's Basketball Championship at Hinkle Fieldhouse on Tuesday, March 11. The 9 p.m. (ET) league championship game will be televised nationally on ESPN. The Bulldogs (28-3), who defeated UIC, 66-50, in the tournament semifinals, have advanced to the championship game for the third straight year and for the ninth time in the past 12 years. Butler has 10 league championship game appearances overall, matching the Horizon League record held by former league member Xavier. Cleveland State (21-11) defeated Valparaiso, 78-73, in the semifinals and will be making its first Horizon League Tournament championship game appearance. The Bulldogs, who enter the title game with a three-game winning streak and victories in 12 of their past 13 games, are seeking their first league tournament crown since 2001.

Butler has won more Horizon League Tournament titles (4) than any other active league member.

POLL WATCH: Butler climbed two spots in both the ESPN/USA Today poll and the Associated Press poll, when the national rankings were released on Monday (March 10). The Bulldogs moved back into the "Top 10" with a No. 10 ranking in the ESPN/USA Today poll and rose to No. 12 in the AP poll. Butler has been ranked in the "Top 25" of the A.P. poll for 18 straight weeks and in both polls for 17 consecutive weeks, reaching as high as No. 8 in both polls on February 18.

Butler has been nationally ranked (Top 25) for 33 weeks since Nov. 27, 2006.

ADDITIONAL POLLING: The Bulldogs are ranked first in The CollegeInsider.com Mid-Major Top 25 (Mar. 10). Davidson is ranked second.

20-SOMETHING: Butler has posted its tenth 20-win season in the past 12 years. The Bulldogs' current 28-3 record is the best 31-game mark in school history, and the 28 wins are the second-most in school annals. Last year's Butler team, which finished with a 29-7 record, is the only team in school history to win more than 28 games in a season.

Butler set a school record with 27 regular season wins this year.

LEAGUE RECORD: Butler has established a new Horizon League record for best two-year win total with 57 victories since the start of last season. The previous record of 53 wins was originally set by Butler from 2001-03. The Bulldogs also tied the Horizon League record and set a school mark for most league wins in a season (16).

CAREER START: Head coach Brad Stevens is the first coach in Butler men's basketball history to own an 28-3 career record. Stevens' former boss, Todd Lickliter, Harlan O. "Pat" Page and legendary coach Paul D. "Tony" Hinkle each shared the previous record with 26-5 marks through 31 games. Stevens is just the second men's basketball coach in Butler history to guide the Bulldogs to 28 wins in a season. Lickliter was the first, accomplishing the feat last year.

HOME WORK: The Bulldogs are 13-1 at home this season, including a 10-0 mark against Horizon League foes. Butler has won 36 of its last 39 games in Hinkle Fieldhouse, and the Bulldogs own a 109-15 (.879) mark at home since the start of the 1999-2000 season.

TOP HONOR: Senior Mike Green became the third Butler player in seven years to be named Horizon League Player of the Year. Green, who leads the Bulldogs in scoring, rebounding and assists, received 42 of 46 votes from league coaches, media and sports information directors for the top conference individual honor. A year ago, Green, who transferred to Butler from Towson, was named Horizon League Newcomer of the Year. The 6-1 guard follows Rylan Hainje (2002) and Brandon Polk (2006) as recent Butler players named league Player of the Year.

FRESH LOOK: Freshman forward Matt Howard is the second Butler player in as many years to be named Horizon League Newcomer of the Year. Howard, who follows teammate Mike Green as league Newcomer of the Year, is the first true freshman to earn the league honor since T. J. Lux of Northern Illinois received the award in 1995-96.

ALL-LEAGUE: For the first time in school history, Butler has had three players earn first or second team All-Horizon League recognition. Senior guards Mike Green and A. J. Graves both were named first team all-league, while freshman forward Matt Howard was picked to the second team on the honor squad chosen by league coaches, media and sports information directors. Green and Graves both earned all-league recognition for the second consecutive season. A year ago, Graves was a first team pick, while Green was named to the second team. This year's all-league team marked just the second time in Horizon League history that Butler had two players earn first team recognition. The other time was in 2002, when forward Rylan Hainje and point-guard Thomas Jackson both received the league honor.

GETTING DEFENSIVE: League coaches tabbed Butler seniors Mike Green and Drew Streicher as two of five players on the Horizon League All-Defensive Team. The two Bulldogs have helped Butler to a No. 7 national ranking in team scoring defense. Green ranks among the league leaders in steals, while Streicher gained wide recognition as one of the league's most versatile defenders. The two are the first Butler players to earn Horizon League All-Defensive recognition since 2003.

Butler leads the Horizon League in team scoring defense (57.8).

ALL-DISTRICT: Butler seniors Mike Green and A. J. Graves were among 10 players named to the All-District 10 team, chosen by the National Association of Basketball Coaches. Green was named first team All-District 10, along with Luke Harangody of Notre Dame, DJ White of Indiana, Eric Gordon of Indiana and Brian Roberts of Dayton. Graves earned second team recognition, along with Jamar Butler of Ohio State, Drew Lavender of Xavier, Tim Pollitz of Miami (Ohio) and Leon Williams of Ohio. A year ago, Graves was a first team pick on the honor squad, while Green was named second team. The 150 Division I players honored from 15 districts are now eligible for the NABC All-America team To Be Announced at the conclusion of the 2007-08 season.

ADVANCE WORK: The Bulldogs used a 16-5 scoring run in the final five minutes of the first half to take control of their semifinals game against UIC. The late run gave Butler a 34-24 halftime advantage and the Bulldogs maintained a double-digit lead throughout the final 20 minutes. Senior Mike Green gave Butler the lead for good at 20-19 with a short jump shot and senior Pete Campbell followed with his second three-point field goal of the half. Green scored eight of the 16 points in Butler's decisive run.

Butler improved to 10-3 in Horizon League Tournament semifinals play.

GREEN PARTY: Senior Mike Green put his ample skills on display to help lead Butler to the title game of the Horizon League Championship. The 6-1 Butler guard led all scorers with 19 points, and he topped the Bulldogs with seven rebounds. He also posted a game-high seven assists. Green hit five of the eight shots he attempted and nailed eight of 10 from the free throw line.

Mike Green is the only player who ranks in the Horizon League's "Top 10" in scoring, rebounding and assists.

BULLDOG BITS:

•Butler is leading the Horizon League in scoring margin (+10.5), turnover margin (+3.61), fewest turnovers (10.2), and assist/turnover ratio (1.28). The Bulldogs are second in 3-point field goals (9.26), three-point field goal defense (.328) and free throw shooting (.737).

•A. J. Graves stands in fourth place on Butler's all-time scoring list with 1,769 career points. He became the 39th player in Horizon League history to reach the 1,500-point plateau, and he's the current active league-leader in career scoring.

•A. J. Graves is second on Butler's all-time list for three-point field goals with 295, 19 behind all-time leader Bruce Horan (2002-06). He's currently fourth in the league in three-pointers (2.81).

•A. J. Graves has moved into seventh place on Butler's all-time assist chart with 308 career assists. He's two shy of Mike Monserez, 2001-04, in sixth place.

•A. J. Graves ranks fourth in the Horizon League in steals (1.45). He's second in the league in minutes played (35.29).

•A. J. Graves started his 121st Butler game in the Horizon League semifinals, breaking the previous school record set by Rylan Hainje (1998-2002).

•Mike Green ranks seventh in the Horizon League in scoring (14.6). He's scored 1,593 points during his collegiate career (641 at Towson and 952 at Butler).

•Mike Green leads the Horizon League in assists (5.19) and ranks third in assist/turnover ratio (1.85). He's fourth in defensive rebounds (5.23), sixth in steals (1.32), eighth in rebounding (6.4) and 11th in free throw shooting (.760). Green tops the league in free throws made (165).

•Mike Green currently owns the fourth-highest single season assist total (161) in Butler history. He's one shy of Jeff Rogers, 1996-97, in third place, two away from Thomas Jackson, 1999-00, in second and seven away from the school record held by Tim Bowen, 1990-91.

•Mike Green has moved into eighth place on Butler's all-time list for free throws made (361). He's two shy of Jermaine Guice, 1990-94, in seventh place.

•Mike Green has started 67 consecutive games for the Bulldogs, every game of his Butler career.

•Pete Campbell leads the Horizon League in 3-point field goals (3.21) and ranks seventh in the league in 3-point field goal percentage (.441). He's hit at least one 3-pointer in 31 consecutive games, dating back to last season.

•Pete Campbell stands in ninth place on Butler's all-time list for 3-point field goals (171). He's three three-pointers shy of Jermaine Guice, 1990-94, in eighth place and four away from assistant coach Matthew Graves, 1993-98, in seventh.

•Matt Howard leads the Horizon League in field goal percentage (.606). He's second in offensive rebounds (2.48), fourth in blocked shots (1.13), ninth in free throw shooting (.781), 13th in rebounding (5.6) and 16th in scoring (12.5).

•Matt Howard currently owns the second-highest single season scoring total (386 pts) ever by a Butler freshman. The all-time Butler freshman record of 476 points was set by Tony Warren in 1979-80.

•Matt Howard leads all freshmen in the Horizon League in scoring, rebounding, blocked shots, field goal shooting and free throw shooting. He's the only player, regardless of class, to rank in the "Top 15" in all five categories.

•The Bulldogs, who hit 12 3-point field goals in each of the past two games, are 22-0 when hitting eight or more 3-pointers in a game.

TOURNAMENT NOTES

•Hinkle Fieldhouse is hosting the Horizon League Tournament for the third time in league history. Butler first served as the tournament host in 1994 and again in 2004. Both times, the tournament site was predetermined prior to the season.

•The Bulldogs are 4-2 in Horizon League Tournament action in Hinkle Fieldhouse. Butler advanced to the tournament semifinals at Hinkle Fieldhouse in both 1994 and 2004. The Bulldogs are playing for the tournament championship on their home floor for the first time.

•Butler was 0-12 in Horizon League Tournament play from 1979 to 1991. Since then, the Bulldogs are 24-12 with four league tournament championships.

•The Bulldogs are tied for second (with Loyola and former member Xavier) in all-time Horizon League Tournament wins with 24. Detroit is the all-time leader with 26 wins.

•Butler has been the No. 1 seed in the Horizon League Tournament five times prior to this season. The Bulldogs won the league tournament in four of those five seasons.

•Senior guard A. J. Graves was named to the Horizon League All-Tournament Team last year, after helping Butler to a runner-up finish. Four previous Butler players have earned All-Tournament recognition twice - Jermaine Guice (1993, 1994), Jon Neuhouser (1997, 1998), LaVall Jordan (2000, 2001) and Joel Cornette (2001, 2003).

•Butler assistant coach Matthew Graves earned Horizon League All-Tournament honors as a player for the Bulldogs. Graves was named to the 1998 All-Tournament team, while helping Butler to the tournament title. Graves played on tournament championship teams in 1997 and 1998.

•Assistant coach Brandon Miller was a starter on Butler's Horizon League Tournament championship team in 2001 and Butler's tournament runner-up team in 2003.