Butler basketball is finally back! In front of a crowd of over 7,500 fans in Hinkle Fieldhouse, the Bulldogs put on a show, securing a lopsided 68 – 36 victory over the Hanover Panthers in Saturday’s exhibition game.
Butler’s starting lineup consisted of sophomore and (R) junior guards Kamar Baldwin and Paul Jorgensen, alongside senior star forward Kelan Martin, (R) sophomore forward Sean McDermott, and senior forward Tyler Wideman. The starters played for several minutes, then Aaron Thompson and Nate Fowler checked in for their first appearances. Henry Baddley clocked in shortly after.
With 11:39 remaining in the first half, Butler led 17 – 8. It was about here when the Dawgs truly hit their stride and things started to get out of hand.
More substitutions took place as Joey Brunk made his first appearance of the day. Brunk’s late father Joe Brunk was a Hanover alum, and Butler honored him with a tribute video at the end of the first media timeout.
Nate Fowler’s appearances were spotty because he got into foul trouble, but he established himself more as the game went on.
Freshman Christian David entered the fray and attempted to throw down an alley-oop jam on his first possession. However, the lob pass from Baldwin went too high. The ball sailed over David’s outstretched hands and into Butler’s student section. Oops.
At the 7:37 mark, the Bulldogs capped off a nice scoring run with a driving and-one layup by Baldwin, just under the right side of the basket. Butler’s budding star sank the free throw and continued to play with tremendous accuracy and poise.
Jerald Gillens-Butler was the last of the Bulldogs who made their first appearance in the first half. Butler continued to outpace and overwhelm Hanover with depth.
With 4:30 left, Butler led 35 -14. Things finally slowed down a bit, and the Bulldogs headed to the locker room with a 44-19 lead at halftime. Sean McDermott quietly led all scorers with 9 points and also contributed 2 rebounds. Kamar Baldwin (7 pts., 2 reb.), Tyler Wideman (6 pts., 3 reb.), Paul Jorgensen (5 pts. 3 reb.), and Kelan Martin (5 pts. 3 reb.) were also strong performers for Butler in the first half, meaning that all of the starters played well.
Up to this point, Butler had great success on both sides of the ball. The Bulldogs shot 19 of 37 (51.4%) from the floor while holding Hanover to just 6 of 25 (24%). The main downside was that the Bulldogs shot a below-average 3 of 12 (25%) from beyond the arc, but shooting woes weren’t terribly detrimental to Butler this half since Hanover shot 3 of 13 (23.1%) from downtown. On defense, Butler was getting steals in the passing lane, crashing the boards, and playing physical down low.
The starting five was back on the floor to begin the second half for the Bulldogs, and it was more of the same.
McDermott opened the floodgates with a strong dunk which put him in double digits. Hanover answered with a score, and a timeout was called with 15:59 left in the game. The score was 46 – 21.
During the timeout, a Butler fan impressively made a half-court shot in just 3 attempts. It’s always fun to see a fan get in on the action like that.
Following that bombshell, Baldwin drained a 3 which brought his scoring total up to 10, and McDermott followed that up with a 3 to top off his own total at 14. This pair of 3’s was one of the only times the Bulldogs showed consistency from behind the arc in the entire game.
With 7:30 left, Butler led 58-25 and a comeback by Hanover seemed out of reach.
By about the 7 minute mark, Butler subbed out most of their starters for the rest of the game. McDermott led all scorers with 14 points, 3 rebounds, and 4 assists. Baldwin added 10 points and shot a perfect 100%, Wideman had 6 points and 5 rebounds, and Jorgensen finished with 5 points and 5 rebounds.
Martin was the lone starter on the floor for a couple minutes, and then he too was subbed out. He finished with 5 points and 4 turnovers on a rough outing but led the Bulldogs with 6 rebounds.
David found himself unable to score until just inside the final 7 minutes, when he drove right to the baseline, cut left towards the basket, and showed off his touch with a beautiful reverse layup. This was his only basket, but he finished with 5 rebounds which tied 4 other Bulldogs for the team’s second most rebounds.
Thompson showed flashes of promise, ending his day with 4 points off 2 of 3 shooting, 3 rebounds, and 2 assists in 19 minutes.
Fowler played through 4 fouls and still put up 8 points in the game. He has a smooth jumper and he really showed his scoring ability from mid-range.
Baddley had a pair of highlights in the second half with a steal and emphatic fast break dunk, followed by an offensive rebound and put-back layup just a few minutes later. He finished with an impressive 8 points and 5 rebounds in just 13 minutes.
Finally, freshman Campbell Donovan checked in with 2:30 left. A walk-on guard hailing from Fort Wayne IN, he’s a crowd favorite. The people’s champ finished with several touches, but a blank stats sheet aside from his 2 minutes.
Butler finished the game shooting 30 of 64 (46.9%) from the floor, including a dismal 5 of 23 (21.7%) from beyond the arc. The Bulldogs only got to the free throw line twice, but they made the most of it and shot a perfect 3 of 3 on free throws. 68 points isn’t exactly the greatest offensive performance the Dawgs could’ve hoped for. But the fact that they held Hanover to just 36 points on an abysmal 12 of 50 (24.0%) total and 5 of 26 (19.2%) from 3 speaks volumes about Butler’s defense. Also note that a very large portion of the second half was basically treated as “garbage time”, and not having top players on the floor for a substantial amount of time may have skewed the stats down slightly.
Stats for both Butler and Hanover are here.
Butler’s next game is another home exhibition match, this time against the Lincoln Memorial Rail Splitters on November 4 at 7 pm. The Bulldogs’ regular season begins November 10 at home against Kennesaw State.