The more I watch Butler, the more I believe the Bulldogs can be a great team. Senior Don Coleman is probably our area's best player. His teammates and he play extremely hard. They also play together and support each other. After earning a pair of crucial region road wins at Josey and Washington County, the Bulldogs avenged its only loss of the season at home Saturday in an 88-81 victory that Coleman punctuated with a 38 point explosion.
Despite Coleman initiating much of the offense, Butler has great chemistry. Seniors Tyekeith McClattie, Ben Rhodes, and Jaylon Archie continue to cause havoc all over the court in the Bulldogs' full court trapping defense. They make their fair share of offensive plays, too. And Ricquail Smoot anchors the defense with by getting in position to block and change opponents' shots. Smoot is also a capable offensive player with a nice touch. Let's look closely Butler's performance Saturday.
Many high school teams have trouble scoring. Two years ago, when Frank Booker led Westside to a regular season sub region title and a region tournament championship I often predicted Patriot victories because I thought Westside had a head start scoring wise because you could pretty much mark Frank down for 25-30 points or more each outing. This is how I feel about Coleman and Butler. Like Frank, Don is a volume shooter. At times he can take questionable shots. But I'm not the one to question them. I've coached some exceptional scorers. And I often encouraged them to "take some bad shots" for two reasons: a great scorer's bad shots are often better than a lesser scorer's "good shots." And as a former shooter I realize that scorers need to get into a rhythm offensively.
Don was in rhythm instantly Saturday. Whether scoring off a high screen, catching and shooting, or even the occasional heat checking step back three, he looked very comfortable on the way to his season high of 38 points. See here:
As mentioned above, and during a post after Butler's region win over Josey, seniors Rhodes, McClattie, and Archie spearhead the second aspect of Butler's identity that couples with Coleman's offense to make the Bulldogs such a threat. This is the defensive pressure and sheer effort that forces opponents into mistakes. Along with Jzwa Collier, Deandre Barton, and others, these guys live on the floor, diving for loose balls and creating extra possessions and opportunities in the open court. And Smoot is a much better deterrent at the rim than I realized. He blocks and changes many shots. This is easier to show than explain...
These guys also make offensive plays...
Now I'll share the sequence from Saturday's game that gave Butler its first real lead. Early in the third quarter, Archie chose to set up an offensive set rather than swinging the ball to an open Coleman. Don was visibly upset. But rather than let it affect his play (or his team's) he quickly went to the floor for a loose ball and converted a three point play. Four possessions later, Coleman had run off 10 consecutive points and Butler had opened up a 7 point lead. The frustration Don showed to his friend and teammate was the kind teammates on good teammates share with each other. These teammates hold each other accountable, get things off their chests, and move forward, leading by example. This was an important set of possessions that pushed Butler ahead for good in a game they wanted badly.
***Here are some posts from the past about Butler***
Dec 24, 2014
Butler avenges season's only loss
Dec 17, 2014
Butler takes a backseat to no one
Dec 1, 2014
Don Coleman: A Timeline
Nov 24, 2014
Friday at the Will Avery Tip-Off Tournament
Aug 27, 2013
Coleman Measures Up Nicely
Jan 3, 2013
Butler Controls its Destiny
Jan 24, 2013
Butler's Coleman does it Again
Dec 1, 2012
Thoughts from the Weekend: Butler
Nov 23, 2012
Thanksgiving Classic Notes: Butler Bulldogs
Aug 1, 2011
July 21, 2011
Southern Kings 14u AAU Team Returns from Orlando, and Heads to Las Vegas