Tag: Kellen Dunham

Kellen Dunham

Butler releases full non-conference schedule

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After falling to Notre Dame in overtime in the NCAA tournament Round of 32 last season, Chris Holtmann’s Butler Bulldogs will look to exceed that performance while also contending in the Big East in 2015-16. Thursday afternoon the program revealed its non-conference schedule, which has a few solid matchups that should help Butler get prepared for Big East play.

At first glance the biggest matchups for the Bulldogs will come away from Hinkle Fieldhouse, as they’ll play games against Cincinnati (December 2 in Cincinnati) and Purdue (December 19 at the Crossroads Classic at Bankers Life Fieldhouse). Butler will also host a Tennessee team led by new head coach Rick Barnes December 12.

Butler will be one of eight teams playing in the Puerto Rico Tipoff November 19, 20 and 22, with Miami, Minnesota, Mississippi State, Missouri State, Temple, Texas Tech and Utah completing the field. Those matchups will be officially announced later this summer.

Butler, which will begin its regular season against The Citadel November 14, has some challenging games on its schedule. With three starters and their top three scorers, led by Kellen Dunham and Roosevelt Jones, back on campus this is a schedule the Bulldogs should be able to manage ahead of Big East play.

Butler will also have a new point guard in Tyler Lewis, who’s eligible to play after sitting out last season following his transfer in from NC State.

No. 6 Butler eliminates No. 11 Texas, but Roosevelt Jones sprains left knee

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Playing without the injured Roosevelt Jones all of last season, Butler struggled in its inaugural season as a member of the Big East. Jones’ versatility has been a big key for Chris Holtmann’s team this season, so when he left Thursday’s NCAA tournament game against No. 11 Texas with a sprained left knee there was a great amount of concern.

However Jones’ teammates stepped forward, going on an 11-0 run in the immediate aftermath of his injury. The distance created there proved to be enough on an afternoon that saw both teams struggle offensively, with Butler winning by the final score of 56-48 in Pittsburgh. The Bulldogs, now 23-10 on the year, will face No. 3 Notre Dame on Saturday with a spot in the Sweet 16 (Midwest Region) on the line.

Kellen Dunham, who struggled with his shot in the first half, hit some important shots in the second stanza and finished with 20 points but the biggest key scoring-wise for Butler was the foul line. Having struggled from the charity stripe for most of the season, Butler made 20 of its 26 attempts and outscored Texas by 12 points from the foul line. Also of note was the play of Kameron Woods, who grabbed nine rebounds and played well against Texas’ larger front line.

Butler will need to shoot at a better clip than they did against Texas if they’re to knock off the Fighting Irish, and the status of Jones will have an impact in that area. When Jones is on he can use his stocky frame to crack defenses, either getting to the basket himself or creating for his teammates. Upon his return to the game Jones still favored that left leg, so his status will be something to keep an eye on in the next couple of days.

As for Texas, they struggled to establish any kind of flow offensively against a Butler defense that aimed to cut down on the number of available possessions. Texas looked to full-court pressure to force the tempo but they were unable to get Butler out of its rhythm, and looking to Isaiah Taylor to create off of ball screens turned out to be the Longhorns’ most effective offense for most of the second half.

This season was all about rhythm, or their inability to establish it, ever since Taylor went down with a broken wrist in November for Texas. Jonathan Holmes scored 15 points to lead the way for Texas against Butler, but he alternated stretches of positive activity with periods in which it was tough to tell that he was on the floor. And the senior wasn’t the only player to have that issue against the Butler defense. As a team Texas shot 34 percent from the field, and their 15 turnovers were converted into 16 points by the Bulldogs.

With this disappointing season coming to an end, the questions will now focus on the status of head coach Rick Barnes. He did lead Texas to a Final Four appearance in 2003, but more often than not the fan base has seen its expectations unfulfilled in the years that have followed. While Butler has the immediate question of Roosevelt Jones’ knee to be concerned with, Texas will look to answer questions regarding the direction of its basketball program.

Butler leaves the the Bahamas with two key wins

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Butler endured a long 2013-2014 season, finishing its debut campaign in the Big East 4-14 conference record and settling for a ninth-place finish. This year had an ominous start when second-year head coach Brandon Miller took a leave of absence for health reasons just days before practice began.

However, the Bulldogs have proven the Butler Way is still intact, exiting a loaded Battle 4 Atlantis field with not one, but two key victories. Two days after upsetting No. 5 North Carolina, Butler held on to defeat Georgetown, 64-58, in a non-conference conference game on Friday afternoon in the Paradise Island, Bahamas.

Sandwiched between wins over the Tar Heels and Hoyas was a loss to Oklahoma in the semifinals. The Sooners dropped from the top 25 rankings this past week after being upset by fellow Big East program Creighton. You could also make the case that the Hoyas would have been ranked had they defeated Butler. So, for a team picked to finish seventh in the Big East preseason poll, a 2-1 record in the Battle 4 Atlantis not only gives an experienced group a moral boost, it also goes to show that Butler — a program that has moved from the Horizon League to the Atlantic 10 to the Big East and has had three different coaches over the last four years — is back on the right path.

While Butler was not as talented as North Carolina and Georgetown, the experience and toughness was apparent. Interim head coach Chris Holtmann started two seniors — Kameron Woods and Alex Barlow — as well as juniors Kellen Dunham and Roosevelt Jones.

Butler struggled shooting the ball against the Tar Heels, but outworked North Carolina on the glass, corralling 29 offensive rebounds (compared to 26 defensive boards for UNC) leading to 19 second-chance points. Butler’s shooting percentage (27 percent through the first two games) climbed to north of 40 percent in the Bulldogs’ contest against the Hoyas, getting high-percentage shots by forcing turnovers and getting out on the fast break, and even turning made field goals for Georgetown into transition buckets.

In those two wins, Butler’s defense was able to contain the oppositions top scoring option. Marcus Paige shot 5-of-17 for 18 points (11 coming with under four minutes to play) while D’Vauntes Smith-Rivera was limited to 4-of-12 from the field for a dozen points.

For Georgetown, there were positive takeaways with freshmen Isaac Copeland and Paul White going for 16 and 13, respectively. But for Butler, this was a statement weekend — in a week filled with impressive wins for the Big East — as the Bulldogs continue the Butler Way in the post-Brad Stevens era.

Butler returns stateside to take on Indiana State on Dec. 3.