North Carolina State transfer joins revamped Butler roster

Matt Cashore-USA TODAY Sports
0 Comments

INDIANAPOLIS — Butler coach Thad Matta landed his second big man in less than a week Monday, announcing the addition of 6-foot-11 Manny Bates from North Carolina State.

The grad transfer had 147 blocks, fourth in school history, and shot 64.7% from the field in two seasons with the Wolfpack. He played just one game last season after suffering a season-ending shoulder injury in the first minute of North Carolina State’s season opener.

“Manny’s presence defensively will be incredibly impactful,” Matta said in a statement. “He blocks and alters shots at a high level. Offensively, his size and athleticism give him the ability to score in the post, in the pick-and-roll, and in transition.”

The announcement comes just days after Matta announced that 6-10 forward Jalen Thomas would transfer to Butler from Georgia State. The Bulldogs also recently landed former Akron swingman Ali Ali and are expected to announce soon that a fourth player will transfer into the program.

Last week, Matta also hired former Ohio State stars Greg Oden and Jon Diebler to his staff.

Oden, the IndyStar Mr. Basketball in 2006 and No. 1 overall draft pick in 2007, will serve as director of basketball operations. Diebler will be director of recruiting.

“Both possess great energy and strong basketball knowledge,” Matta said. “They will relate well to our players and will help them grow on and off the court. I was excited years ago when they committed to be part of my program as players, and I’m just as excited they are joining my staff.”

Butler hires Austin Parkinson as women’s basketball coach

Michael Allio/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images
0 Comments

INDIANAPOLIS – Butler hired Austin Parkinson as its new women’s basketball coach Friday, ending a search that lasted a little more than two weeks.

Parkinson won’t even have to leave town. The IUPUI campus is only a few miles away from Butler’s Hinkle Fieldhouse.

He replaces Kurt Godlevske, who was fired by director Barry Collier on March 22 after two of the worst seasons in Bulldogs history. Butler went 1-27 last season.

“Austin set himself apart from a strong pool of candidates with his experience building a championship-caliber program at IUPUI and his vision for how Butler will achieve similar success within the Big East,” Collier said.

Parkinson, a former Purdue star, left the IUPUI men’s staff in September 2010 to take over the scandal-tinged women’s program. Over the next 12 seasons, the program went 224-141 and became a Horizon League powerhouse.

He posted eight 20-win seasons including a 24-5 mark last season when the Jaguars won their second league tournament title in three years and made the first NCAA Tournament appearance in school history.

“Everything is in place at Butler for our program to make noise in the Big East and I am grateful for the opportunity to lead the Bulldogs,” Parkinson said.

IUPUI chancellor Andrew Klein said a search for Parkinson’s replacement will begin immediately.

It’s the second hiring Butler has made this week. Collier named Thad Matta as the men’s basketball coach on Sunday.

Thad Matta returning to Butler for 2nd stint as head coach

Getty Images
0 Comments

INDIANAPOLIS – Thad Matta is returning to Butler, hired on Sunday to coach the Bulldogs almost five years after he cited his health while stepping down at Ohio State.

The 54-year-old Matta led Butler to a 24-8 record and an appearance in the 2001 NCAA Tournament during his only season as the head coach at his alma mater. He then had successful runs at Xavier and Ohio State.

Matta spent the 2021-22 season as an associate athletic director for basketball administration at Indiana.

Now he’s going back to where it all started for him.

“I’m grateful for the opportunity to return to Butler and lead our men’s basketball program,” Matta said in a release. “There is a solid foundation in place and I’m confident that Butler will consistently be among the top programs in the Big East. I can’t wait to attack the work we have in front of us and to be back on the sidelines at Hinkle Fieldhouse.”

Matta also played for Butler for three seasons after transferring from Southern Illinois as a sophomore. He was an academic coordinator and administrative assistant at Butler from 1991 to 94 and then-coach Barry Collier’s top assistant for the 1999-2000 season.

Matta and his wife, Barb, are Butler graduates. His daughter, Ali, also graduated from the school, and his daughter, Emily, is pursuing her undergraduate degree at Butler.

“The success that Thad has achieved at every one of his programs speaks for itself,” said Collier, who took over as Butler’s athletic director in 2006. “He is a championship-caliber coach and recruiter who brings valuable experience and contagious energy to Butler.”

Matta is replacing LaVall Jordan, who was fired Friday after two straight losing seasons. The Bulldogs were 14-19 this season and tied for ninth in the Big East at 6-14.

Butler played in the 2018 NCAA Tournament and was expected to make it back in 2020 before the tournament was canceled because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Durham hits clutch 3 to send No. 11 Providence past Butler

Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports
0 Comments

NEW YORK — Al Durham has made plenty of big shots for Providence this season – at the foul line. He was about the last guy anyone would expect to sink a critical 3-pointer.

That’s just how this charmed season has played out for the 11th-ranked Friars.

Durham drained a go-ahead 3 with 41 seconds left for his first basket of the game, and Providence barely got past pesky Butler 65-61 in the Big East Tournament quarterfinals Thursday.

“It was a little rough there for a second,” Durham said. “But, like you said, the last shot went in.”

Nate Watson scored a season-high 26 points for the top-seeded Friars (25-4), who avoided an early exit at Madison Square Garden after winning the first regular-season conference championship in school history.

Jared Bynum, the league’s sixth man of the year, added 16 points off the bench and defensive specialist Justin Minaya made two huge blocks as Providence advanced to the Big East semifinals for the first time since 2018 and fifth since the 2013-14 realignment.

“We didn’t do a lot of things great but we did enough to win,” said Ed Cooley, the Big East coach of the year. “And I think today was a microcosm of the type of season we’re having.”

The gritty Friars, playing for the first time in nine days, improved to 11-2 in games decided by five points or fewer. They will face No. 4 seed Creighton, a 74-63 winner over fifth-seeded Marquette, in the opener of Friday night’s doubleheader.

“Wasn’t pretty out there. We definitely showed some rust,” Cooley said. “I think a lot of that credit goes to the way Butler defended us. But just like the season has gone, I guess we saved our best for last.”

Chuck Harris had 14 points and Bryce Golden scored all 13 of his points in the second half for the ninth-seeded Bulldogs (14-19), who rallied late to beat No. 8 seed Xavier in overtime in the first round Wednesday.

Bo Hodges added 10 points and a career-best 15 rebounds. Butler, however, finished 3 for 19 from 3-point range and shot 36% overall.

“You know, it’s March, so the ball bounces one way or the other,” coach LaVall Jordan said. “A lot of credit to Providence. They’ve been doing this all year in close games. They’ve had guys that have made the shot or made the play. They’ve been surviving and advancing way beyond now. But proud of our guys for the effort and the fight.”

In the first of four sold-out quarterfinals, a boisterous crowd was decidedly in Providence’s favor.

The score was tied 55-all late in a back-and-forth second half before Simas Lukosius sank two free throws and Golden made a layup to give the Bulldogs a three-point lead with 2:38 left.

Watson snagged a loose ball out of the air, dropped in a layup and drew a foul with 1:20 remaining. But he missed the free throw that could have tied it.

Minaya blocked a shot by Harris and the ball went out of bounds to Providence. A.J. Reeves found Durham in the left corner and the Indiana transfer knocked down a clutch 3 that gave the Friars a 61-59 lead and left him 1 for 8 from the field.

It was the first 3-pointer since January for Durham, who is 20 for 96 (21%) from behind the arc this season.

“I would laugh at that, too,” Cooley said. “But you know what? He made it. And I trust him. He’s made some big shots for us the whole time.”

Cooley has called Durham his “closer” because of the lefty guard’s proficiency at the foul line – especially down the stretch. He began the week leading the Big East with 153 made free throws.

Minaya came up with another huge block at the other end flying off the weakside and Hodges missed a contested layup. Bynum hit a pair of free throws with 12.9 seconds to go before Hodges scored quickly on a drive.

Providence had trouble getting the ball inbounds cleanly, but Bynum finally secured it and passed to a wide-open Durham for a dunk at the buzzer.

Golden made four straight layups, two on smooth passes from Lukosius, to account for all the points in an 8-0 run that gave Butler a 51-45 lead with 9:13 to play.

“I just try to play with a will,” Golden said. “I knew this could be our last game. And I was just trying to give it everything I had for for the dudes that don’t get any college experience after this.”

There were 26 fouls – 15 on Butler – in a tightly called first half that ended tied at 31. The 6-foot-10, 260-pound Watson bullied the Bulldogs down low and went into the break with 15 points.

“Nate was a monster the whole night,” Cooley said.

BIG PICTURE

Butler: A disappointing season ended with a heartbreaking defeat for the Bulldogs, but they certainly were a tough out in New York. Butler led for more than 21 minutes in a game that featured 11 ties and 12 lead changes. Since joining the Big East in 2013-14, their only appearance in the tournament semifinals came in 2018.

“It’s hard to look at all those guys in the locker room and know we don’t get another practice and we don’t get another road trip together,” Jordan said.

Providence: A founding member of the league in 1979, the Friars are seeking their third Big East Tournament title (1994, 2014).

UP NEXT

Providence clinched the Big East regular-season crown with a 72-51 win over Creighton at home on Feb. 26 in their only meeting. The other one was canceled because of COVID-19 protocols.

No. 8 Providence rallies from 19 down, beats Butler in OT

Marc Lebryk-USA TODAY Sports
0 Comments

INDIANAPOLIS- Jared Bynum made two free throws with 38 seconds left in overtime and No. 8 Providence rallied from a 19-point deficit to beat Butler 71-70 Sunday.

Down 43-24 early in the second half and still trailing by seven points with 2 1/2 minutes left in regulation, the Friars (22-4, 12-2 Big East) pulled off the comeback.

Nate Watson scored 22 points and Noah Horchler had 15 points and 11 rebounds to help keep Providence atop the conference standings. Horchler’s basket with 23.4 seconds to go in the second half made it 64-all and forced the extra session.

Chuck Harris had 17 points and Aaron Thompson added 16 for Butler (13-15, 6-11), which has lost three in a row. The Bulldogs never trailed over the final 36 minutes of regulation, and Jayden Taylor missed an open 3-pointer at the end of OT.

The Friars weren’t themselves without injured starting guard Al Durham – they started 4 of 24 from the field and dug themselves into a 32-15 deficit. Butler extended the margin to 19 with about 16 minutes left.

Providence cut the deficit to 52-43 with 8:53 left, then steadily closed the gap before making it 56-54 on Watson’s dunk with 4:20 remaining. After the Bulldogs answered with a three-point play from Bo Hodges and a basket by Bryce Golden, Providence rallied again.

The Friars finally tied the score at 64. Butler’s Aaron Thompson had a layup blocked at the rim with 1.8 seconds left and A.J. Reeves’ buzzer-beating heave was off the mark to force overtime.

Watson’s putback with 2:08 to go gave Providence a 69-68 lead and after Butler made two free throws, Bynum made two more for the final points of the game.

BIG PICTURE

Providence: A week ago, the Friars looked like they might coast to their first Big East regular-season crown. Sunday’s victory should keep them in the lead after Tuesday’s home loss against No. 10 Villanova. A road trip to to Villanova still looms but a loss at Butler would have been damaging.

Butler: The Bulldogs nearly got back to .500 for the first time since mid-January with a second straight win over a ranked foe. With three regular season games and the Big East Tournament still remaining, Butler still needs to do some major work to make its case for a postseason bid.

POLL IMPLICATIONS

On Monday, the Friars earned their highest ranking in more than six years. It still could be a short stint in the top 10. But surviving this one should take some of the sting out of Tuesday’s loss.

UP NEXT

Providence: Hosts Xavier on Wednesday.

Butler: Visits Seton Hall on Wednesday.

Butler uses 3-point flurry to beat No. 18 Marquette, 85-79

Marc Lebryk-USA TODAY Sports
0 Comments

INDIANAPOLIS — Bryce Golden scored a career-high 22 points and Bo Hodges added 11 points and 11 rebounds on Saturday to help the Butler Bulldogs hold on for a surprising 85-79 victory over No. 18 Marquette.

The Bulldogs (12-13, 5-9 Big East) never trailed, and snapping a three-game losing streak.

Justin Lewis led Marquette with 27 points and nine rebounds. Tyler Kolek had 17 points as the Golden Eagles (16-9, 8-6) lost for the second time in five days.

The Bulldogs took advantage quickly, making six of their first eight from behind the arc to jump to a 26-11 lead. A 7-0 run helped Butler extend the margin to as much as 21 in the first half before the Golden Eagles started fighting back.

Marquette cut the halftime deficit to 42-27, opened the second half with the first five points. After watching Butler rebuild a 55-39 lead, the Golden Eagles answered with seven straight points to get within 60-55 with 7:44 left.

Butler scored the next five, though, and the Golden Eagles never got closer than four the rest of the game as the teams largely matched baskets and free throws.

Marquette had won the previous three matchups against Butler.

BIG PICTURE

Marquette: The Golden Eagles have played better than expected this season. But losses at No. 24 UConn followed by a subpar showing at Butler didn’t help. With no more ranked teams between now and the conference tournament, Marquette needs to rebound.

Butler: These were the Bulldogs fans expected season. They were fast and efficient on offense and pestered Marquette defensively. One more win would get Butler back to .500, a major accomplishment given how this season has gone. The question is whether the Bulldogs can use this win to make a postseason push.

POLL IMPLICATIONS

Marquette opened this week with its highest ranking in nearly two years. Two losses in five days, especially this one, will certainly send the Golden Eagles sliding. The question is how much they’ll fall in Monday’s rankings.

UP NEXT

Marquette: Returns home to face Georgetown on Wednesday.

Butler: Begins a two-game road trip Tuesday at DePaul.