Butler player, coach: Ignore the stats, we’ve got good shooters
INDIANAPOLIS – There are nine pages of teams listed on ESPN’s web site when you search for where exactly the Butler men’s basketball program ranks among the 351 NCAA Division I squads in 3-point shooting.
Be prepared, it will take you awhile to find the Bulldogs.
Eight pages in, you’ll see that Butler ranks 317th nationally with its paltry 28.8 percentage success rate. However, those within the program are exuding as much confidence in a coming improvement in that number as a team would, let’s say, that might be trailing by 15 points in a game with less than four minutes remaining (just for an analogy).
“The shots are going to fall,” Bulldog guard Paul Jorgensen said. “We really do have great shooters on this team. I’m a big believer.”
The Bulldogs (5-2) will host Saint Louis (3-3) Saturday at 2 p.m. (FS1).
Jorgensen’s confidence is somewhat understandable; after all, he has actually shown the ability to shoot from the perimeter this season.
In the three recent Butler games in the PK80 Invitational in Portland, Ore. Jorgensen had a solid game against Portland State (4 of 7 from 3-point range), but struggled against Texas and Ohio State (2 of 9).
“The shots are going to fall,” Jorgensen reiterated. “Things are going to click (offensively). We’re only seven games into the season.”
Seven games isn’t two or three games, it is a big enough sample size to cause concern, especially giving that Butler only has one player shooting a decent percentage coupled with a respectable volume.
That sharp-shooter happens to be redshirt sophomore Sean McDermott, who is now out until, at best, the New Year with a severely sprained ankle that he suffered against Portland State.
“Sean is a big piece,” first-year Butler coach LaVall Jordan told News-Sentinel.com Thursday of his team’s offense. “He was facilitating things. We used him as a passer and he has been shooting the ball really well.”
The 6-foot-6 forward is tied with senior forward Kelan Martin with a team-high 11 made 3’s, but McDermott had done so at a 42.3 percent clip, compared to Martin’s anemic 20.8 percent rate.
“We’ll make some adjustments,” Jordan said.
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Those “adjustments” began in Portland after McDermott went down, as Jordan started two “bigs” in center Tyler Wideman and forward Nate Fowler, the latter of who has perimeter skills. Despite his 6-foot-10 frame, Fowler has made 2 of 5 3-pointers this year and is a threat with his shooting and passing abilities.
One thing that Jordan does have is personnel options to replace McDermott.
The Bulldog coaches worked with different players in more significant offensive roles in practices this week and Saturday’s game could see any number of guys replacing McDermott.
Butler could move Jorgensen into the starting lineup and go with three guards (along with sophomore Kamar Baldwin and freshman Aaron Thompson), start Fowler again, use sophomore Henry Baddley (a good defender, if not an offensive threat), or even go with freshman forward Christian David, who showed potential in his limited playing time in Portland.
“We haven’t decided,” Jordan said of the playing rotation. “We’ve tossed a lot of (ideas) around the table and a lot of it may be match-up based.”
Jordan said that his team is shooting the ball well in practices, which like Jorgensen, gives him confidence, especially when it comes to Martin.
“He’s a good shooter,” Jordan said of Martin. “We don’t worry about him. If we can be (competitive) in the games, I think water finds its level. We’ve got good shooters on our roster.”
“We watch them every day in practice and we shoot as much as we can in practice and I know that these guys are in the gym on their own getting extra shots.”
MARTIN GETTING DEFENSIVE
In earlier days, no Butler fan or coach ever concerned themselves with Martin’s contributions at the offensive end of the floor; it was his defensive effort that sometimes lagged. However, Jordan isn’t worried about either so far this season.
“I’m proud of Kelan for responding without making 3’s,” Jordan said. “He’s finding other ways to score and affect the game. Defensively, he is really focused.”
In a recent loss to Texas, Martin guarded Longhorn forward Dylan Osetkowkowski, who is his team’s second leading scorer, and limited him to just four makes in 13 shot attempts.
“Kelan has had an impact on that end of the floor,” Jordan said. “He is finding other ways to help us.”
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