Rex Beihan: The Butler Way

Re: Rex Beihan: The Butler Way

Postby jksander » Thu Dec 29, 2016 6:58 pm

January 9, 2017
Marquette (8-5, 3-1) @ Butler (5-8, 0-4)

We played well at the start of this one, battling the Golden Eagles back and forth early but taking a 10-8 lead on a trey by Bret Hart with 14:06 to play in the first half. With 6:36 to go we held a 23-17 lead, but Marquette kept things nailbitingly close and we had to put our starters back in to keep things from getting out of hand.A pair of Damion Phillips free throws kept us ahead 28-24 with 2:20 remaining, but they followed with a triple moments later, and Brett Hart's free throws with 1:02 to go kept us with a trim 30-27 advantage in a tight battle. That would remain the margin as we went into halftime, but we held a lead, and eight players had played a role in the offense that put us in that lead.

Rich Alston opened the half with a quick jumper twenty seconds in to put us up 32-27, and a Tavaras Watkins three-pointer with 17:53 to go in the game gave us a 37-28 advantage! We made it a 41-31 lead with 15:49 to go thanks to another Alston jumper, and seemed to finally have things firmly in our control, though Watkins and Phillips were in foul trouble. I took them both out for breathers, subbing in Jerry Walter at forward and Josh Lynch in an experiment at center. And in the next sixty seconds we had a Russell Harris triple, a Russell Harris rebound and a Rich Alston jumper and free throw, making the margin 47-34! With 9:26 to go we led 54-36, so I gave Harris and Hart breathers and put McPherson and Anderson in (Anderson hasn't had a lot of minutes lately, so now's a chance for him to see how he can do in a less pressured situation). Phillips and Watkins kept us firmly in the lead, staving off Marquette's attempts at a comeback, and with our lead 60-41 with 6:30 to go, I put the rest of our bench in. Marquette gained ground in those final minutes, but I felt it was important to see what our bench could do – we held tough to win this one 68-58!

Player of the Game: Russell Harris (10 pts 5 reb 4 ast 1 stl 2 blk)
Honorable Mentions: Tavaras Watkins (11 pts 10 reb 1 ast 1 blk); Rich Alston (11 pts 3 reb 2 stl)

Harris shot .600 for the night, compared to Watkins' .308 performance … I was pleased with his double-double! In the end 10 of our players scored in the game, which showed we can put together an all-around performance when we really want to. This was not a weak team we just beat!

January 12, 2017
Butler (6-8, 1-4) @ DePaul (9-7, 2-3)

We came out firing early, up 4-3 on DePaul thanks to two Damion Phillips jumpers in the first sixty seconds. Phillips would again score to tie it 6-6, and then Brett Hart rattled one home in traffic to put us up 8-6 with 17:47 to play! With 15:15 to play we led 14-8 and four of our starters had contributed to our shooting performance. But DePaul was shooting well too, and they would outscore us 8-0 in the next two minutes to take the lead, and Brett Hart had to do everything in his power not to lose the ball as he slammed the tying two home with 12:20 to play, making it a 16-16 game again. But we struggled with depth issues and fatigue as DePaul took us apart thereafter. Danny Adams hit a brilliant three with 7:48 to pull us within three, down 24-27, but it was taking every bit of my coaching energy to find ways to juggle our players and keep us in this one.

Phillips laid in an easy jumper with 4:57 to go, cutting their lead to six, 26-32. Watkins pulled down a key defensive board moments later, dished it to Harris, who found an open Alston who DUNKED THAT BALL, making it 28-32 with 4:25 to go! Russell Harris grabbed another defensive board, got it to Hart, who took it down the court, dished it to Alston who found an open Harris at the top of the key … THREE POINTS OFF THE GLASS! Suddenly it's 31-32 with 3:35 to play. DePaul answered with a three moments later, but our tired starting five, back in this game and ready to play to the end of the half, are proving they want to be in this game. But we went into the half trailing DePaul 34-41.

Tavaras Watkins fouled out three minutes into the second half. I blame myself for not keeping a better eye on the foul situation, but we'd needed him so much in the first half. We fought to keep this close, but it was a battle all around and the fouls were killing us across the board. Down 48-57 with 11:32 to go in the game, this home crowd was becoming unbearably loud as the DePaul faithful did everything they could to shut us down for good. And we just had no gas in the tank. Rich Alston fouled out with 5:35 to go and us trailing 58-74. We'd go on to lose 71-89, but we never quit. Russell Harris begged me to let him keep playing, and he nailed a three in the final seconds that told all our fans who had stuck it out that we may be struggling this year but we're not broken.

Player of the Game: Russell Harris (13 pts 6 reb 9 ast 1 stl 1 blk)
Honorable Mentions: Rich Alston (15 pts 3 reb); Damion Phillips (13 pts 5 reb 4 ast 1 stl 1 blk)

Seton Hall, on an 11-game winning streak, just cracked the top 25 at #25.
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