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Butler's Clarke looks to slow pace - at times

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For more on college basketball, follow Tom Davis via Twitter at Tom101010.

Senior guard seeks to improve decision making

Saturday, December 29, 2012 - 12:01 am

INDIANAPOLIS – Before dissecting the aspects of Rotnei Clarke’s basketball ability and pointing out the areas which could stand to see some improvement, it’s important to note that even Kate Upton gets pimples.

That is what it feels like in being critical of Clarke’s game since suiting up for Butler last month.

The 18th-ranked Bulldogs (9-2) will travel to Vanderbilt (5-5) today at 8 p.m. (ESPNU).

The Arkansas transfer has been tremendous in a myriad of ways – particularly offensively. However, he also has a tendency – just a tad, mind you – to get slightly out of control at times.

“I have to stop trying to go full speed all of the time and slow down a little bit,” Clarke said following a 20-point, but 5-turnover game against Evansville recently.

What makes the 6-foot senior guard so special is his pace of play. But on the other hand, what makes Clarke so reckless is his pace of play.

“Sometimes when the ball is in my hands,” Clarke explained, “I’m maybe looking at just one option (mostly chucking it). I’ve got to do a better job of seeing the whole floor.”

The Evansville game was a perfect example of what Clarke is speaking of. He made half of his six three-point shots (he’s fourth in the entire country in made three-point shots), but for a guy that Bulldog coach Brad Stevens said would be “a very good point guard” this year, Clarke’s lone assist and five turnovers were a bit ghastly.

“I didn’t do a good job of getting it out of my hands,” Clarke said. “I’ve got to do better at that.”

But whatever he does, he can’t slow down too much. His pace of play is frenetic to say the least, and that is what makes him so unguardable much of the time.

Clarke cuts, spins, dives, cuts again and gets open for only a split second – and that is all he needs. He has made 44 three-point shots this season and connects at an astounding 45.4 percent rate. Clarke is open anytime he crosses mid-court (ask Marquette). But he also five more turnovers (30) than assists (25) this season.

When Clarke announced that he was transferring to Butler, Commodore coach Kevin Stallings had to have been pleased that he was leaving the Southeastern Conference – that is until he saw his 2012-13 schedule.

As a junior, Clarke torched Vanderbilt for 36 points (12 of 16 shooting) in a Razorback win, so he’ll certainly be the focal point of the Commodore defensive game plan. However, he’ll still need to be wary of trying too much, too quickly.

“I’ve got to slow down when the ball is in my hands,” Clarke said. “I want to come off quick when I’m coming off of a screen without the ball. But I need to slow down and try to find other guys.”