Saturday, December 1, 2012

Thoughts from the Weekend: Butler

Butler's loss tonight to class AAAAAA Rockdale (20-9 record last season) does not change my view that the Bulldogs will be a force in AAAA action this season.  The loss, along with the near loss at Strom Thurmond Friday night, merely reminds me that there is not a great deal of difference between most high school teams.  So on any given evening (see Evans defeat of Aquinas after a huge loss to Glenn Hills), most any team can beat another.

But the Bulldogs do have some pieces that put coach Cervantes Boddy's team in position to win far more than it loses.  And if the group improves throughout the season, the Bulldogs could have a successful post season.  Don't forget, a Butler team coached by Boddy went to the state championship game only two seasons ago.

Currently, the team gets the majority of its offensive production from guards Marquis Leverett and Dontae Coleman.  Leverett, a senior, plays very intelligently and very efficiently.  He puts the ball into the hands of the appropriate players in the appropriate spots on the floor.  And he scores (24 tonight) without shooting excessively.  I particularly like the way he changes speeds off the dribble.  And he is very comfortable shooting from deep, going all the way to the basket, or stopping short of the paint and knocking dow the mid range jump shot.  All of these attributes were on display this evening against Rockdale, as you can see in the video below.

Coleman plays at one speed: full speed!  He attacks the basket constantly and pulls the trigger from deep when given space in the half court set or in transition.  For much of the first four games, this strategy has worked, especially in the Thanksgiving Classic where the Bulldogs won two of two games with Coleman averaging 31.5 ppg.  Coleman combined with backcourt mate Leverett tonight to score 43 of Butler's 61 points.  See Coleman directly below.

Butler's attack is not strictly perimeter oriented.  6'6" senior Ronald Jones is a very capable scorer, as you will see in the highlights below from tonight's game.  I believe the Bulldogs will be at their best when the group learns how to take advantage of the scoring ability of the guards while also reliably getting great shots in the paint from players like Jones.  To be sure, Jones will be effective whether as a primary scorer or as a support player.  He rebounds, defends, and finishes very well.  But the team's full potential may be found by getting him involved offensively on a consistent basis.

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