Milwaukee Athletics

Butler set to hire LaVall Jordan to be new head coach

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Butler is set to hire LaVall Jordan to be the team’s new head coach, sources confirmed to NBCSports.com.

The 38-year-old Jordan just finished his first season as a Division I head coach at Milwaukee as he is a Butler alum and former assistant for the Bulldogs under head coach Todd Lickliter.

Jordan has a unique tie to this position at Butler since his athletic director, Barry Collier, is his also his former head coach. During his career as a player at Butler, Jordan made three NCAA tournament appearances, helping the Bulldogs to their first tournament win in 39 years in 2001 during his senior season.

A respected recruiter during his time in the Big Ten as an assistant at Iowa and Michigan, Jordan should understand what it takes to win at Butler from a talent standpoint since he helped the program succeed as a player and assistant coach. Replacing Chris Holtmann is going to be tough but this could be a strong hire for Butler given Jordan’s background and reputation as an up-and-coming coach.

The key question for Jordan will be how he handles the on-court coaching at such a high level as a young coach. In his only season at Milwaukee, Jordan only finished 11-24. But the Panthers also peaked at the end of the year and nearly made the NCAA tournament after making the Horizon League conference tournament title game as the No. 10 seed. For a team of mostly underclass players in a rebuilding year, it was a positive sign of things to come for Jordan at Milwaukee.

But Jordan now also has to go head-to-head with respected and experienced coaches like Jay Wright, Chris Mack and Ed Cooley. It might take some time for Jordan to figure out who he is as a coach, but if he can continue to bring in talent then Butler should be in a good position to continue to make NCAA tournament runs.

This hire is also intriguing for Butler because they didn’t promote an assistant coach like they’ve done so many times before. Holtmann, Brad Stevens, Todd Lickliter and Thad Matta were all Butler assistant coaches who were promoted from within, but Collier is opting for an “outside” hire by picking Jordan instead of current Butler assistant Ryan Pedon.

Obviously, Jordan has many ties to Butler as a former player and assistant coach, so it’s not as if he’s a total stranger to the program’s culture, but he hasn’t been with the Bulldogs in any capacity since 2007, so he has been gone from the program for the last decade.

Big East Conference Tournament Preview, Bracket and Conference Postseason Awards

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Big East Player of the Year: Josh Hart, Villanova

Josh Hart confirmed what was almost unanimously believed in November: he was the best player in the Big East. The senior wing averaged a conference-leading 18.7 points — shooting 50 percent from the field and 40 percent from three — to go along with his 6.5 rebounds, 3.2 assists and 1.5 steals per game for first-place Villanova. One of the best two-way players in the nation also had some of his best single-game performances outside of the conference slate.

Big East Coach of the Year: Ed Cooley, Providence

Two days before Christmas, Providence closed out the non-conference slate with a loss at Boston College. The Friars followed by dropping the first two conference games. All three losses were by a dozen or more points. Yet, this team — without Kris Dunn and Ben Bentil — is in possession of another 20-win season, and tied the highest finish Providence has had since the conference’s relaunch. This is a competitive race, especially when you consider what Chris Holtmann and Steve Wojciechowski has done. And that doesn’t include Jay Wright’s continued dominance. But Cooley took a young roster with all the makings of a rebuild and turned it, in all likelihood, a fourth straight NCAA Tournament appearance.

First-Team All-Big East

  • Josh Hart, Villanova
  • Andrew Chrabascz, Butler: The statistics don’t jump off the page, but the senior forward impacts the game in so many different ways for a Butler team that was projected to finish sixth, but ended as the No. 2 seed.
  • Jalen Brunson, Villanova: Taking the full-time ball handling duties this season, the sophomore averaged 14.8 points per game, shooting 54 percent from the field. He also registered a 2:1 assist-to-turnover ratio.
  • Angel Delgado, Seton Hall: The nation’s leading rebounder (13.1 RPG) has recorded 24 double-doubles this season. He’s also improved his offense, posting 15.7 points per game.
  • Marcus Foster, Creighton: The transfer guard is second in the conference in scoring at 18.5 points per game. He’s taken on a bigger role since Watson’s season-ending injury.

Second Team All-Big East:

  • Trevon Bluiett, Xavier
  • Khadeen Carrington, Seton Hall
  • Kyron Cartwright, Providence
  • Kelan Martin, Butler
  • Justin Patton, Creighton

RELATED: Player of the Year | Coach of the Year | NBC Sports All-Americans

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Villanova brought the Big East the national championship in 2016, ending critcism of the program’s shortcomings in March and providing the league with an added level of legitiamcy it yearned for since its relaunch in 2013.

So, what will the Big East do for an encore? The conference might send 70 percent of its members to the NCAA Tournament.

Like the previous three seasons, the league was dominated by Villanova, which won its fourth consecutive regular season championship. Butler finished second, and spent much of the year in the top-20. Creighton looked every part of a Final Four contender until Maurice Watson Jr. tore his ACL in mid-January. Xavier, which began the season ranked, has struggled since Edmond Sumner suffered the same season-ending injury. Marquette, Providence and Seton Hall have all made late pushes for at-large bids, resulting in a wild finish to the regular season. Four days in New York should be eventual, to say the least.

The Bracket

When: March 8-11

Where: Madison Square Garden, New York City

Final: Saturday, March 11 5:30 p.m.

Favorite: Villanova

This should come as a surprise to no one. This reigning national champions enter the World’s Most Famous Arena as the top seed for the fourth straight season. Villanova has at its disposal the conference’s player of the year, another unanimous first-team selection, a national coach of the year candidate and the athleticism and versatility not many teams can brag about. Depth is a concern, with Phil Booth out for the season and Darryl Reynolds, the only true big man in the rotation, recently returning from injury. It’s also worth noting that two of three Big East losses came against the same opponent.

And if they lose?: Butler

The Bulldogs have twice defeated the Wildcats. They did so in Hinkle Fieldhouse on Jan. 4, handing Villanova its first loss of the season. Butler went for the sweep by knocking off the Cats on Feb. 22, the only time they lost at the Pavilion this season. In both contests, Butler made the key plays down the stretch for hard-fought victories. Butler has an improved defense from last season to compliment with its always-efficient offense. With a big like Andrew Chrabascz, the Bulldogs are more equipped to match up with Villanova. Also, Kelan Martin, since his move to a reserve role, has caught fire in the last five games of the regular season.

Kelan Martin (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)

Other Contenders:

  • Providence: The Friars have won six straight, with wins over Butler, Xavier, Creighton and Marquette. Kyron Cartwright and Rodney Bullock may not be Kris Dunn and Ben Bentil, but they are anchoring a hot team that could give Providence its second postseason championship in four years.
  • Marquette: The Golden Eagles are the only Big East team team other than the Bulldogs to defeat Villanova. They have a nice balance with a deep roster. Five players average double-digits in points, and Andrew Rowsey, the Big East Sixth Man of the Year, and Katin Reinhardt have been huge in the second unit.

Sleeper: Seton Hall

The Pirates played strong basketball down the stretch last season to win the Big East Tournament championship. Isaiah Whitehead is playing in a different borough now, but Seton Hall is rolling, winners of seven of nine. The defense isn’t as strong as it was during last year’s run, but Angel Delgado, Khadeen Carrington and Desi Rodriguez are capable of a repeat performance.

The Bubble Dwellers:

  • Xavier: The Musketeers lost six of seven to close out the season. They have two wins in the past five weeks: both against DePaul. A loss to the Blue Demons on Wednesday night could burst Xavier’s bubble.
  • Marquette: The Golden Eagles should be safe at this point. Sure, they earned a come-from-behind win against Villanova, but that won’t stop critics from poking holes in their resume on Sunday, especially when four wins against Xavier and Creighton came after injuries to Edmond Sumner and Mo Watson.
  • Providence: A six-game winning streak and a third-place finish should mean the Friars are safe, but most bracket projections have them as one of the last at-large four bids.

Defining moment of the season: Marquette, down 17 points, comes back to stun No. 1 Villanova, starting a run for the NCAA Tournament.

CBT Prediction: Villanova

Five Takeaways from No. 8 Creighton’s win over No. 12 Butler

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Creighton had a strong overall performance on Wednesday night as the No. 8 Bluejays ran past No. 12 Butler for a 75-64 home Big East win.

Here are five takeaways from Creighton’s impressive win.

1. Creighton’s defense is getting better — Creighton’s top-10 offense has been praised repeatedly this season but its defense also appears to be improving.

The Bluejay defense has never been bad this season — they ranked a respectable 69th in KenPom defensive efficiency entering Wednesday — but this team appears to be more focused on that end of the floor from the start of the season.

Butler was held to 41 percent shooting on Wednesday night as they were 32 percent from three-point range and only shot seven free throws. Creighton defended without fouling and made perimeter looks very tough. The Bluejays also clearly had the right gameplan for Bulldogs star Kelan Martin as they held him scoreless in the first half and made things frustrating for him all night.

Creighton doesn’t need to be a defensive juggernaut to win its games, but they do need to show that they can get late stops in a tight game like they couldn’t during the Villanova loss. This game obviously didn’t give the Bluejays a test in that department but their defense was so good early that they didn’t need to get stops to win.

2. Butler needs Kelan Martin to show up in Big East play — Junior forward Kelan Martin is Butler’s leading scorer and best player. The 6-foot-7 forward is averaging north of 17 points per game this season. But he’s had a slow start in Big East play.

Wednesday saw more of the same. Martin missed his first eight shots and was held scoreless in the first half as the Bulldogs fell behind big and never recovered. To start the second half, Martin found himself on the bench as he finally started to make some shots once he re-entered the game.

So far in five Big East games, Martin is only shooting 30 percent (20-for-66) from the field. At 6-for-27 from three-point range during that same span, Martin has also struggled to find his perimeter shooting stroke during conference play. Clearly, Martin needs to make some adjustments because the Big East seems to be more familiar with his game and is having an easier time of slowing him down.

Much like Wisconsin senior forward Nigel Hayes, Martin could stand to tone down the number of perimeter looks he is taking at the moment. Martin has always hovered around 37 percent from three, and that’s a respectable number, but he’s now attempting over six attempts a game from three even though he’s been off the last five games.

3. With Justin Patton rolling, Creighton’s offense becomes a juggernaut — Watching Creighton has been fun for a number of reasons this season but the continued development of freshman center Justin Patton continues to be thrilling to witness. The 7-footer has really stepped up his overall game lately as he’s been more productive while getting the lion’s share of the minutes at center.

When Creighton’s guards like Mo Watson and Marcus Foster can get to the rim, Patton becomes a valuable dump-off option. With the amount of shooting that Creighton has on the roster it also gives Patton plenty of room to operate on the interior. If Cole Huff is knocking down shots, it makes the Bluejays such a matchup nightmare on the offensive end because they have so many unique weapons and ways to score.

Patton only finished with 10 points on 5-for-6 shooting but that all came in the first half as Butler’s bigs had no answer for him. Since Creighton’s guards could get in the paint whenever they wanted, Patton’s post touches weren’t as necessary in this one, but Patton’s confidence is growing immensely as the season goes on.

4. Butler can have struggles containing dribble penetration against good guards — One of Butler’s major issues during Wednesday night’s loss was the ability to slow down guards like Watson, Foster and Khyri Thomas from doing what they wanted off the bounce.

In the first half, the Bluejays built their commanding lead by attacking the rack and sharing the scoring balance and the second half saw a strong takeover performance from Watson. The senior was simply unguardable for Creighton in the second frame as he was able to touch the paint whenever he wanted on his way to 21 points and seven assists.

Butler has some strong defensive players and strong defensive principles, but senior Tyler Lewis isn’t a good on-the-ball defender and his size makes him susceptible to being beat. It’s going to be interesting to see how Butler adjusts its perimeter defense after this game to prepare for elite guards. The good news is that Butler isn’t going to have to face many top-10 offenses with killer backcourts, but it was still concerning to see how much they were getting beat.

5. Nobody else is going to beat Creighton at home — Sorry, Big East. No disrespect, Xavier. But I’d be stunned if Creighton lost another home game this season.

Creighton’s dismantling of Butler was an impressive effort on both ends of the floor as the Bluejays made a good, disciplined team look average for most of the game. With Villanova already having won at Creighton this season, I don’t see another Big East team going into CenturyLink Center and picking up a win.

The Bluejays have always been a tough out at home over the years as it is, but with how talented this team is and how they’re playing right now, it would take a huge effort to earn a win there.

Butler lands commitment from four-star 2017 forward Kyle Young

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Butler picked up an important commitment on Monday as four-star forward Kyle Young committed to the Bulldogs.

A Class of 2017 stretch forward who can hit jumpers and has an improving skill set, the 6-foot-7 Young comes from Massillon, Ohio and he’s regarded as the No. 109 overall prospect.

Young was impressive in the Nike EYBL this spring and summer with King James as he averaged 15.5 points, 8.0 rebounds and 1.8 assists per game as he shot 48 percent from the field and 36 percent from 3-point range.

This is a nice grab for Butler as Young is the type of versatile perimeter shooter that they like to utilize and he should be able to help a bit on the glass as well.

Young joins a class that includes guards Cooper Neese and Jerald Butler.

No. 5 Xavier finds shooting touch in 74-57 blowout at Butler

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INDIANAPOLIS (AP) No. 5 Xavier learned its lesson.

To keep winning, it must continue do the dirty work.

Four days after stumbling at Creighton, the Musketeers got back to basics and used a balanced offense and a smothering defense to run away from Butler 74-57 on Saturday.

“We played much better today and after about the first four or five minutes, we defended,” coach Chris Mack said. “Our shots were, in my opinion, really good ones because we got in the lane, we made the extra pass and I thought that was the difference.”

Whatever the explanation, the Musketeers (22-3, 10-3 Big East) certainly looked worthy of the highest ranking in school history.

After making a season-low 30 percent from the field and just 1 of 21 3-point attempts in Tuesday’s loss, Xavier rebounded by shooting 56.9 percent and going 9 of 18 beyond the arc. J.P. Macura led the way with 13 points while Edmond Sumner and Remy Abell each had 12.

But the biggest improvements showed up in other areas – defense, rebounding and effort. They allowed 36 points over the final 31 1/2 minutes.

“Everybody was boxing out and rebounding, and on the offensive end we have so much talent we could get whatever we wanted,” said Abell, who started his college career playing for the Indiana Hoosiers.

The difference was obvious.

Butler (17-8, 6-7) was held almost 25 points below its season average.

Kelan Martin, with 15 points, and Andrew Chrabascz, with 12, were the only players to score more than 10. And the top three scorers – Martin, Kellen Dunham and Roosevelt Jones – were a combined 11 of 39 from the field as the Bulldogs’ three-game winning streak came to an end.

Xavier crushed the Bulldogs so thoroughly that chants of “Let’s Go X” resounded throughout sold out Hinkle Fieldhouse over the final minutes.

“We didn’t have near the effort, the juice, the purpose defensively and we didn’t move the ball offensively and that was actually the case from the opening minute,” Butler coach Chris Holtmann said. “We mentioned that in the four-minute media and said that had to improve and when it doesn’t these things happen.”

Butler used a 9-0 first-half run to take a 21-13 lead midway through the first half.

Xavier answered with a 27-6 run that included four 3s and a three-point play in a 27-6 run to make it 40-27. The Bulldogs got as close as 47-39 early in the second half, which later became a seven-point deficit after a replay review gave Dunham a 3.

But the Bulldogs couldn’t get closer.

“You can go 1 for 21 one game, and then the next game it’s – I’m sure it was better,” Macura said. “That’s basketball.”

POINTERS

Xavier’s dominance showed up in two key stats on the box score. The Musketeers outscored Butler 36-14 in points off the bench and 36-18 in the paint despite having only two offensive rebounds. Xavier has won six of its last seven.

ON THE ROAD

Even the road has been kind to the Musketeers this season. They have won seven times in true road games, their highest season total since 2010-11. They have also won five Big East games on the road – more than they won in either of their first two seasons in the league and they have won 10 of the last 13 at Hinkle.

MOVING UP

Dunham continues his ascent on the Bulldogs’ career scoring list. After moving from 14th to sixth on the list in the first 23 games this season, Dunham moved passed Lynn Mitchem (1,798) for fifth and within one point of A.J. Graves (1,807) for fourth. Matt Howard is third (1,939) and the only 2,000-point scorers in school history are Chad Tucker (2,321) and Darrin Fitzgerald (2,019).

TIP-INS

Xavier: Former Indiana prep star Trevon Bluiett had 11 points and four rebounds and James Farr had 12 rebounds. … Each of Xavier’s 22 wins has come by at least seven points. … The Musketeers were the highest-ranked team to play at Hinkle Fieldhouse since No. 3 DePaul visited Feb. 23, 1981.

Butler: Shot 33.3 percent overall and was 8 of 22 on 3s. …. The Bulldogs only have three wins at home against Top 10 teams – No. 8 Gonzaga in January 2013, No. 3 Michigan in 1965-66 and No. 5 Tennessee in 1958-59. … Boston Celtics coach Brad Stevens and Indiana Gov. Mike Pence attended the game.

UP NEXT

Xavier hosts No. 20 Providence on Wednesday.

Butler hosts Creighton on Tuesday.

LATE NIGHT SNACKS: No. 11 Providence, No. 20 Kentucky fall

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GAME OF THE NIGHT: DePaul 77, No. 11 Providence 70

Ben Bentil left the game with an ankle injury, Kris Dunn struggled and no one else could get going for the Friars. When that happens the Friars are in trouble, as Rob Dauster notes here. Myke Henry was the standout for the Blue Demons, scoring 27 points and grabbing 11 rebounds with Billy Garrett Jr. adding 16 points, six rebounds and four assists. Dunn led Providence with 14 points and eight assists, but he shot 5-for-20 from the field, and as a team the Friars shot 39.3 percent from the field.

IMPORTANT OUTCOMES

Tennessee 84, No. 20 Kentucky 77: The Volunteers came back from 21 points down late in the first half to beat the Wildcats in Lexington, with Kevin Punter leading the way with 27 points. Armani Moore also played well for the Vols, adding 18 points, 13 rebounds, four assists and two blocks. Jamal Murray scored 21 points and Tyler Ulis 20 for the Wildcats, who lost to an unranked opponent for the fifth time this season. And for the young Wildcats, some familiar issues got them in trouble Tuesday night.

No. 14 West Virginia 82, No. 13 Iowa State 77: Jaysean Paige scored 23 points off the bench and Devin Williams added 17 points and 18 boards as the Mountaineers erased a 15-point deficit to win in Ames. Georges Niang scored 20 points for the Cyclones but he also turned the ball over eight times, with fellow front court starter Jameel McKay having four turnovers himself. As for WVU, after getting blown out at Florida Saturday Bob Huggins’ team showed the toughness we’ve grown accustomed to seeing from them.

Butler 87, Georgetown 76: Kelan Martin put forth an outstanding showing in Butler’s win over Georgetown, scoring 35 points and grabbing eight rebounds in a key matchup for both teams. This is Butler’s first Big East win over a team other than DePaul or St. John’s, and even with their non-conference slate the Bulldogs were trending in the wrong direction prior to Tuesday night. This win helps, and on the other side of the equation the Hoyas find themselves in even greater trouble when it comes to the NCAA tournament.

MORE: Tuesday’s Bubble Banter

STARRED

Ray Lee, Eastern Michigan: Lee played just 24 minutes in the Eagles’ 94-69 win over Miami (Ohio). He scored 46 points, shooting 9-for-11 from three (11-for-16 from the field), so took full advantage of his time on the court.

Kelan Martin, Butler: Martin scored 35 points and grabbed eight rebounds off the bench in the Bulldogs’ win over Georgetown.

Shawn Long, Louisiana-Lafayette: 28 points and 17 rebounds in the Ragin’ Cajuns’ overtime win over UL-Monroe.

Devin Williams, West Virginia: Williams scored 17 points and grabbed a career-high 18 boards in the Mountaineers’ win at No. 13 Iowa State.

STRUGGLED

Reed Timmer, Drake: Timmer finished the Bulldogs’ loss at Indiana State with 15 points, ten rebounds and four assists. But he scored those points on 5-for-20 shooting from the field.

Kris Dunn, Providence: Losing Ben Bentil after 14 minutes didn’t help matters for Dunn, who shot 5-for-20 from the field in the Friars’ loss at DePaul.

Four McGlynn, Rhode Island: With the Rams playing without Jarvis Garrett (jaw) and Kuran Iverson (concussion), McGlynn had a lot of responsibility on his shoulders Tuesday night. He finished the Rams’ overtime loss at UMass with 13 points and four assists, but he shot 3-for-16 from the field and committed six turnovers.

THE REST OF THE TOP 25

  • Buddy Hield led six Sooners in double figures with 17 points as No. 1 Oklahoma blew out TCU, 95-72. Hield’s failed to reach 20 points in a game just three times in Big 12 play this season, but the Sooners have won all three of those games (West Virginia and Baylor being the others).
  • After getting off to a slow start Indiana flipped the switch in a big way, outscoring the Wolverines 41-9 over the final 14:31 of the first half and going on to win comfortably 80-67. Yogi Ferrell scored 17 points and dished out nine assists to lead the way for Indiana, which continues to make strides defensively.
  • Yante Maten accounted for 18 points, eight rebounds and four blocks at Georgia beat No. 25 South Carolina 69-56. The Gamecocks are now 19-3 on the season, but given their non-conference slate Frank Martin’s team doesn’t have a large margin for error down the stretch.

OTHER NOTABLE GAMES

  • Josh Williams scored 20 points, shooting 7-for-8 from the field, as Akron went on the road and beat Ohio, 80-68. Keith Dambrot’s Zips are now alone atop the MAC East standings at 7-2, one game ahead of Kent State (which lost at Central Michigan).
  • Ben Simmons tallied 21 points, 13 rebounds and seven assists to lead LSU to an 80-68 win at Auburn.
  • Clemson outscored Wake Forest 56-34 in the second half of their 76-62 win in Winston-Salem. Jaron Blossomgame posted a double-double, finishing with 22 points and 13 rebounds.
  • Michael Gbinije scored 17 points and Tyler Roberson added 12 points and 15 rebounds as Syracuse beat Virginia Tech 68-60 in overtime. The Orange have now won five of their last six games.
  • Louisiana-Lafayette won its seventh straight game, moving to 8-3 in the Sun Belt with a 72-65 overtime win over UL-Monroe. Shawn Long finished with 28 points and 17 rebounds.
  • Grayson Allen scored 27 points and grabbed seven rebounds, and Brandon Ingram chipped in 15 points, ten boards and four blocks despite an off shooting night to win at Georgia Tech 80-71. The Blue Devils were without head coach Mike Krzyzewski, who remained in Durham due to illness.
  • James Webb III scored 19 points and grabbed nine rebounds as Boise State held off Utah State, 70-67. The Broncos held the Aggies without a point over the final 2:49.
  • San Diego State moved to 10-0 in Mountain West play with a 69-67 win over Colorado State. Trey Kell scored 19 points and Jeremy Hemsley added 16 and five assists for the Aztecs, who host second place New Mexico (7-2) on Saturday.