January 18, 2013
Coach Brad Stevens, like clockwork, trots out a well coached, disciplined team that will try to beat you on their terms. They use great defense and a methodical offense to wear you down and force you into making bad decisions. The expectation is that this should be one of the tougher games the Zags have played this year. We are traveling to a hostile environment, the historic, almost Mecca like gem that is Hinkle Fieldhouse. Home of many Indiana State Basketball battles and one of my all-time favorite movies: Hoosiers. Truly one of the tougher environments in the country.
The first thing you should know is that their leading scorer, Rotnei Clarke, is out. This is a huge blow to a team that has really benefited from Rotnei's big shots and ability to stretch the floor.They have a relatively small front-court that does not necessarily match up well with Gonzaga's bigs. 6-11 Center, Andrew Smith is probably their most seasoned player and should provide solid minutes against Kelly Olynyk, Elias Harris and co., but don't expect him to be able to exert his will on the inside. Ultimately this is a young but very talented Butler team that is set up to be successful in the long term. Expect to see solid minutes out of 6-4 wing Roosevelt Jones, who currently averages almost 10 points and 6 boards a game as a sophomore. Freshman 2-guard Kellen Dunham has come in and played very well in big games. Dunham could be the x-factor if he can get good looks on the perimeter, or he could turn in a performance like his 2-10 three point shooting night versus Richmond the other night.
My expectation for this game is that we will struggle with Butler's defense throughout much of the first half and have trouble finding our niche, but by the beginning of the 2nd half our depth will show through and we will start to pull away. If Rotnei Clarke was playing I would feel worse about our prospects in Indy, but without their big-time seasoned guard wreaking havoc on the perimeter this game seems much more mundane. Final score should be roughly Gonzaga 75, Butler 67.