College Hoops Player of the Day for Friday, January 7, 2011
The 2009-10 hoops season was a memorable one for the Butler Bulldogs, reaching the NCAA finals and finishing with a 33-5 record after losing, 61-59, to Duke.
This season has not been nearly as gratifying. The Bulldogs are currently unranked with an 11-5 record, uncharacteristic of the perennial Horizon League champions, though perhaps the schedule was a bit too optimistic.
An early loss at Louisville was amplified after the Bulldogs were beaten on their home court by Evansville, and then suffered back-to-back road losses to Duke and Xavier. That dropped them out of the Top 25, but on February 3rd, they suffered their worst loss of the season, a 76-52 beating dished out by 8-8 Wisconsin-Milwaukee, their first conference loss.
The Bulldogs regained some of their confidence Friday night with a convincing, 79-56, win over Cleveland State, shooting 48% as a team and forcing the Vikings into 18 turnovers. High scoring honors went to sophomore center Andrew Smith, who recorded a career high with 22 points on 7-for-9 shooting and hitting all eight of his free throws.
Smith, a 6'11" native of Indianapolis, also hit the glass with gusto, wiping off five offensive and five defensive rebounds for his first collegiate double-double.
Butler is 11-5 and into the heart of their conference play. A January 16 date at Wright State looms large.