Butler thrives because everyone fills a role. Shelvin Mack scores. Matt Howard rebounds, gets the put-back buckets. Shawn Vanzant runs the show. And so on.
Ronald Nored? He defends. It’s that simple.
“That’s my role and I want to be the best in my role that I can possibly be,” he said Sunday.
He’ll get a chance to show how good he can be Monday night when he’s the primary defender tasked to stopping Connecticut guard Kemba Walker – something nobody’s done in a month. During UConn’s five tournament wins, he’s scoring nearly 26 points a game and serving as the focal point for everything the Huskies do on offense.
But the other thing about Nored? He’s a confident, capable guy who doesn’t back down from any challenge. That includes Walker.
“Kemba makes it tough for you. The great thing about people is that they all have tendencies. Everyone has something that they are good at,” Nored said. “I am going to try my best to force him that way and relay that to everyone else because we will probably have some switches on him.”
Take note of the last part. Butler coach Brad Stevens noted that it’s foolish to have one player guard Walker. The UConn junior is too quick and too gifted for one defender. Nored, as Butler’s best on-ball defender, will be the main guy, but he’ll have help. Lots of it.
That’s typical, too. The Bulldogs don’t go anything as individuals, but as a unit. They’ll rotate, they’ll help defend and pressure when needed. The biggest challenge might be to not focus too much on Walker.
That’s where the Huskies’ other stars would come in.
“We have played teams that have singular stars, but this isn’t a team that has just a singular star,” Stevens said. “This is a team that has a lot of really good players and possibly a couple of pros around a for-sure pro.”
Twenty-six years ago, another Indiana-based player held a seemingly unstoppable scorer in check during an NCAA tournament game that forever cemented that player’s rep. Nored gets his chance Monday.
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