Monday, December 29, 2014

Rhodes and Coleman lead Butler to win over ARC

Butler's Ben Rhodes
Butler's Ben Rhodes has been instrumental in his team's 11-1 start to the season. Friday's 74-60 win over ARC in the first of three holiday tournament games at the Paine College gym was no exception.  The quiet but effective lefty drained 4 three pointers in the first half as the Bulldogs established a commanding lead. He and teammate Don Coleman then thwarted a Musketeer comeback attempt, scoring a combined 19 points in the final 8 minutes.  Rhodes ended with 25 and Coleman added 24 in the win.

Game Notes

I've been impressed with the number of ways Rhodes has helped his team win this season.  With Coleman on the bench late in a region contest at Josey, he made huge hustle plays to spark an important comeback win.  He also created a lot of opportunities with his effort in the team's 88-81 home win versus Heritage, the only team that has beaten the Bulldogs this season.

Friday's scoring burst may have been a season high for Rhodes, but it was nothing new to his coach, his teammates, or to me.  In the only other Butler game I've seen in person, a season opening scorching of Salem at Evans High School, Ben drove baseline going right and converted multiple three point plays after drawing contact.  His willingness to do what his team needs him to do to get wins, his consistent effort on both ends, and his ability to shoot from deep AND create off the dribble makes him a great teammate.  Coleman called this out Saturday in an Instagram post to the right:

Speaking of Coleman, I continue to be impressed with his growth as a leader and a scorer.  It took him a few tries to get in rhythm Friday, but I don't remember any shots that I would prefer he not take.  And he was at his best after Richmond cut the deficit to 1 point in final period.  He was assertive offensively in every way.  He patiently handled double and triple teams in the back court, finding teammates for easy baskets.  And he was electric in the half court offense, making threes off the bounce and getting to the basket for scores that eventually erased ARC's hopes.

Butler will now turn its entire focus on its region schedule, which coach Cervantes Boddy jokingly called "murderer's row."  Road wins at Josey and Washington County before the holiday break got the Bulldogs off to a fast start.  I have made a fuss over my circling for my schedule the January 9 game at Laney.  But for the Bulldogs to be great (like I believe they can be) they will not only need to compete fiercely in highly anticipated matchups like that one, but also in games like those ahead on January 2 (versus Glenn Hills) and January 6 (versus Westside).

Added Bonus:

I was asked multiple time Friday if I'd caught on film junior Ricquail Smoot's two-handed, off-the-stride tip dunk in transition.  I did.  Smoot sat, due to foul trouble, during much of Friday's game.  But here is a moment early that contributed to Butler's fast start and got the crowd buzzing:

***Here are some posts from the pasts about Don and the Butler Bulldogs.***

Dec 29, 2014
Rhodes and Coleman lead Butler to win over ARC

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

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