David Woods of the Indianapolis Star, hard at work on the Butler beat and joined us last year to talk Saints-Bulldogs, has generously taken out some time to talk about this year’s match up in Albany on Tuesday night. After writing one book The Butler Way: The Best of Butler Basketball, neither us nor Woods could have realized that there would be a new best for Butler basketball until they went on a March journey to the Final Four.
Woods is sure to capture the same magic again with his new book: Underdawgs: How Brad Stevens and the Butler Bulldogs Marched Their Way to the Brink of College Basketball’s National Championship. The foreword is written by Dick Vitale and if you watched Butler-Louisville during the hoops marathon on ESPN, in the first half Vitale noted Woods’ book coming out and his outstanding coverage of the Bulldogs. Below is the book trailer, check it out!
However, there is a re-match to decide on Tuesday night. Will the Saints get revenge at home and start a new home court win streak? First let’s get some insight into the Bulldogs with the writer of the Bulldogs Insider blog at the Indianapolis Star. Follow him on Twitter at DavidWoods007.
Siena Saints Blog: Well how do you feel now about the Bulldogs, having watched a lackluster performance at Louisville and this weekend in a big win over Ball State?
David Woods: Butler looked more like itself against Ball State. The Bulldogs’ 88-55 victory was their most lopsided victory in 70 games, immediately following their 88-73 loss at Louisville — their lost lopsided defeat in 142 games. However, Butler’s lineup remains unsettled and the team is a work in progress.
Siena Saints Blog: Matt Howard appeared to continue in his ways since the Saints and Bulldogs last meeting, getting in foul trouble early and often, how important is it for the Bulldogs for him to be on the floor against the Saints frontcourt?
David Woods: I think Butler coach Brad Stevens has made it clear to Matt Howard that he needs to stay out of foul trouble. But neither does Stevens want to inhibit Howard’s aggressive nature. Stevens said if Howard gets in foul trouble, “so be it.” Howard was in frequent foul trouble during the NCAA Tournament, but Butler had Gordon Hayward to guard the post. Howard did not guard Ball State’s top inside scoring threat, Jarrod Jones. Instead, freshman Khyle Marshall started on Jones.
Siena Saints Blog: Even though the Bulldogs lost Gordon Hayward and Willie Veasely, how much has and will this Final Four run impact the type of players Brad Stevens will be able to bring in?
David Woods: That remains to be seen. Butler lost a fierce recruiting struggle for 6-foot-10 Tyler Zeller of Washington, Ind. (ranked in Top 20). Zeller picked Indiana after his two older brothers, Luke and Tyler, chose Notre Dame and North Carolina, respectively. Recruiting analyst Dave Telep once told me that egos of recruits rated high nationally “won’t allow” them to choose a school such as Butler. Butler will continue trying to attract skilled, versatile prospects that fit its system. Butler does not waste time trying to recruit players it could never sign. Butler coaches thought they had a genuine chance with Zeller, so they actively pursued him.
Siena Saints Blog: We asked you for last years’ game’s key matchup and you said Ronald Nored vs Ronald Moore, and you were right. Nored’s 8 points and 6 assists beat out Moore’s 1-point, 4 assist effort in Butler’s win. So we ask again, what do you see as the key matchup Tuesday night between the Saints and Bulldogs?
David Woods: It would have to be Howard vs. Ryan Rossiter. If Howard can make that an even match, Butler wins. If Rossiter goes wild, Siena wins. Having stated that, it would not surprise me of Howard did not guard Rossiter.
Siena Saints Blog: Your new book, Underdawgs, due out a week after Siena and Butler hook up at the Times Union Center is coming out right in time for basketball fans to add to their reading list.
David Woods: I hope college basketball fans nationwide will be interested enough in Butler’s story to relive the Final Four run via this book. Given where the program was 20 years ago — humble would be an understatement – the Bulldogs’ achievement was greater than most observers realize.
Siena Saints Blog: Well this is definitely on our reading list and we hope other college basketball fans pick it up as well!
Woods is in his tenth season of covering the Butler Bulldogs. He writes for the Indianapolis Star, has written two books and writes the Bulldogs Insider blog on IndyStar.com. Follow him on twitter at DavidWoods007.