Game Preview: #21 Butler vs Detroit

January 9th, 2009

Detroit Titans
Record: 4-10 (1-8 away)
Conference: Horizon (0-5)
RPI: No. 274 (vs. Butler #3)
Sagarin’s: No. 287 (vs. Butler #11)
Best Wins: Saint Louis (W 62-57)
Notable Losses: @Youngstown St (L 80-78), @Valpo (L 64-41)

Notes: Think Ray McCallum knew what he was getting himself into when he over as head coach at Detroit? This once-proud program has fallen on hard times, recently. The team finished dead last in the Horizon League last season with a 3-15 record and appears to be on the same path this season. On Thursday, they looked lifeless at Valparaiso, losing 64-41, and falling to 0-5 in conference play (4-10 overall). It hasn’t helped that leading scorer Xavier Keeling (12.4 ppg) has been unable to play since suffering a knee injury against UW-Green Bay on Dec. 6th. McCallum has his team pushing the tempo, but Detroit doesn’t have the athletes to finish and is careless with the basketball (16.2 turnovers per game). On defense, they play man to man but are undisciplined and can be beat off the dribble.

Other stats:

Scoring margin: -8.4 (last in the HL)
Rebounding margin: -0.6
Turnover ratio: -2.29 (last in the HL)

Starters
Detroit PG Foster, Donavan 5’10 150lbs FR
PPG: 6.1, RPG: 1.5, APG: 1.2
Butler PG Nored, Ronald 6’0 170lbs FR
PPG: 4.1, RPG: 2.9, APG: 2.6

Donavan is a speedy, but undersized PG out of Chicago. He’s not a particularly good shooter (33%) or distributor (1.2 APG) and has gone scoreless in the Titans’ last two HL games. Nored should have the advantage in this one. The kid can flat-out handle the ball. Most of his turnovers (2.5 a game) come off passes; you’ll rarely see someone pick his pocket.

Advantage: Butler

Detroit SG Payne, Woody 5’11 160lbs JR
PPG: 9.2, RPG: 3.9, APG: 3.6
Butler SG Mack, Shelvin 6’3 185lbs FR
PPG: 12.5, RPG: 3.8, APG: 3.6

Payne can play either the 1 or 2 positions. He is undersized as a shooting guard but is a decent shooter and has shown some spark offensively (24 pts vs. YSU). He’ll have some problems, though, guarding the taller and stronger Mack. The Butler frosh was quiet in Butler’s win over Wright State, but anticipate a big game from him against Detroit.

Advantage: Butler

Detroit F Jokic, Nemanja 6’6 220lbs JR
PPG: 5.2, RPG: 2.9, APG: 1.1
Butler F Hayward, Gordon 6’8 180lbs FR
PPG: 12.9, RPG: 6.9, APG: 1.6

Jokic is one of Detroit’s more experienced players. He isn’t spectacular by any means, but he is a glue guy kind of like Brian Ligon was for Butler a couple seasons ago. Against Valpo, he looked like one of the only Detroit players still competing in the second half. Meanwhile, Hayward has become a rebounding machine. In the last four games, he’s averaged 10.7 rebounds and had three double-doubles.

Advantage: Butler

Detroit F Kennedy, Thomas 6’7 200lbs JR
PPG: 10.6, RPG: 4.4, APG: 0.7
Butler F Veasley, Willie 6’3 190lbs JR
PPG: 8.0, RPG: 4.0, APG: 1.2

Kennedy is a JUCO transfer who has brought size and athleticism to the Titans. At 10.6 ppg, Kennedy is arguably Detroit’s best offensive weapon. He’s played well against big time opponents, scoring 18 in the season opener at Purdue and 17 against a good Illinois team. Veasley continued his solid play with an 11-point performance against WSU and has scored double-digits in four of the last five games. He gets the advantage with his stifling defense.

Advantage: Butler

Detroit C Bennett, Jason 7’3 285lbs JR
PPG: 16.8, RPG: 9.0, APG: 1.5
Butler C Howard, Matt 6’8 220lbs SO
PPG: 14.0, RPG: 6.6, APG: 1.1

At 7’3, Bennett will likely be the tallest player the Bulldogs face all season. Luckily for Butler, he simply is not a skilled basketball player. Although Bennett starts, he averages just less than 14 minutes a game. Off the bench, Michael Harrington will play the majority of minutes in the middle for Detroit. On the other hand, Howard is a very, very skilled basketball player. When he’s not in foul trouble, he is arguably (definitely, in my opinion) the best player in the HL.

Advantage: Butler

Bench

Detroit
F Harrington, Michael 6’8 230lbs SR PPG: 5.0, RPG: 5.1, APG: 0.4
G Stephens, Eulis 6’5 185lbs JR PPG: 6.5, RPG: 2.4, APG: 0.7

Butler
G Hahn, Zach 6’0 170lbs SO PPG: 5.5, RPG: 2.0, APG: 1.0
F Jukes, Avery 6’8 215lbs JR PPG: 4.0, RPG: 2.4, APG: 0.4
G Vanzant, Shawn 6’1 175lbs SO PPG: 3.3, RPG: 2.1, APG: 1.1

Both Harrington and Stephens see a lot of minutes for Detroit. Harrington is post player, while Stephens is a slashing guard. Both players are capable of scoring in double figures, but don’t count on it against Butler. The Dawgs' bench has gotten a big boost from Vanzant of late. The sophomore guard is coming off a career-high 9 pts against Wright St. And Jukes, although not scoring much, has clearly bought into the team concept. He’s improved his defense and screening ability.

Advantage: Butler

Final Analysis: Detroit is years away from becoming a relevant basketball program again, while Butler has legitimized itself as one of the best mid-major programs in the country. It would be a shocking result if Butler doesn’t win by more than 20 at home on Saturday. Expect a Nick Rodgers and Alex Anglin sighting in this one.

Prediction: Butler 73, Detroit 48.

Your thoughts on the game? What did Butler show you against Wright St?