Paul Jorgensen ‘responds’ well for Butler at both ends of play
INDIANAPOLIS – The Butler men’s basketball program was pushed to respond on a couple of instances over this past weekend.
The Bulldogs had lost three consecutive games and had a difficult-to-deal-with Providence team coming into town, and then to add to that, the Friars banged in six 3-pointers in the opening half and led by as many as six early in the second half.
Butler answered both challenges successfully, as it limited Providence to (yes, this is correct) 15.6 percent shooting over the final 20 minutes and won easily 69-54.
“We talked the other day,” first-year Bulldog coach LaVall Jordan explained afterward, “just about response. What happens to you doesn’t define you; it is just how you respond to it.”
The Bulldogs (18-10, 8-7 Big East) will have to “respond” yet again Tuesday, as they host Creighton (19-8, 8-6) at 7 p.m. (FS1). The Blue Jays have won four of the past five games within this series.
The Butler players were asked to fight through a bit of adversity, but none more so than redshirt junior guard Paul Jorgensen.
After starting 20 consecutive games, Jordan moved Jorgensen to the bench against Providence.
“It was a lineup shift,” Jordan explained of moving redshirt sophomore Sean McDermott into the starting lineup in place of Jorgensen. “With a little bit more size, with Sean in there, we could switch some things and do some things defensively.”
Jordan then added that there was more to the decision than just a personnel maneuver.
McDermott had been shooting the ball effectively of late, while Jorgensen definitely had not been.
In his previous 12 games, Jorgensen had not connected on half of his shots and was an anemic 6 of 24 in the previous three Butler losses.
“I thought maybe it would give ‘Paulie’ some life coming off the bench,” Jordan said.
Jorgensen sank 5 of his 7 shots and scored 12 points in 17 minutes of playing time.
It was the fewest minutes that Jorgensen had played since a Nov. 23 loss to Texas, but he made the most of the opportunity.
“He came in and responded really well,” Jordan said.
As solid as Jorgensen was in contributing offensively, Jordan said he played a role in helping the Bulldogs rally in the second half.
“Defensively, he was locked in,” Jordan said. “We know that ‘Paulie’ is going to be one of our offensive weapons, we need him to make some plays and make some shots, but his focus defensively helped us as much as anything.”
That same “focus” will be needed tonight.
The Blue Jays are second in the Big East in 3-point shot attempts, while Butler is next to last in allowing its opposition to make those shots.
Creighton is averaging nearly 27 3-point attempts per game.
“We need to come out with a lot of energy,” Bulldog senior forward Kelan Martin said of facing Creighton. “Creighton is a good team and they scout well. They’ve got a lot of good players. But we have to come out with that same focus that we had (against Providence).”
The Friars are the least dangerous team in the conference from the perimeter, yet against the shaky Butler perimeter defense early on, they looked somewhat explosive.
Providence averages six made 3-pointers per game, but had that many by halftime.
If Butler doesn’t shore that area of play up, Creighton will go off on the Bulldogs yet again.
“We have to have the same mindset and be locked in defensively and get stops,” Martin continued.
GOING OUT STRONG
Tonight will be the final game at Hinkle Fieldhouse for both Martin and classmate Tyler Wideman, and both are finishing their careers in exemplary fashion.
Wideman is leading the Big East in field goal percentage (69.2 percent), is 9th in free throw shooting (84.2 percent), and is 14th in rebounding (5.6 per game).
His 2.1 offensive boards per game are the fourth-best in the league.
As for Martin, his second half to this season has been stupendous.
After averaging a very good 17.5 points per game through this season’s initial 11 games, Martin has scored nearly 23 per game over the last 17 outings.
He has been a key contributor at both ends of the floor for Jordan and the coach recently acknowledged such.
“I’m proud of ‘Key,'” Jordan said. “He’s been fun to get to know and coach. His growth and maturity has been on display. It is a credit to him. He wants to get better. He has asked questions, he has sat down and listened, and then he has applied (that information) on the court.”
Wideman and Martin originally committed to play for coach Brandon Miller, but ultimately spent their first three seasons under former Bulldog coach Chris Holtmann, before spending this season with Jordan.
Through all of that flux, the two have helped the program win 88 (and counting) games, including three trips to the NCAA Tournament.
As juniors, they started on the Bulldogs’ squad that advanced to the Sweet 16.
Martin currently is Butler’s fifth leading scorer ever, while Wideman should leave as the Bulldogs’ leader in field goal percentage.
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