What can we expect from Butler Basketball heading into this college basketball season?
LaVall Jordan’s third season at the helm of his alma mater was a breakout season in Indianapolis. Butler Basketball went 22-9 with essentially the same team that finished the previous season with a loss in the first round of the NIT and overachieved early on, spending mid-November through mid-February in the top 20, even getting all the way to No. 5 in the nation.
Make no mistake, this was not a top 5 college basketball team, but Jordan and his staff had them playing that way for several weeks and that alone is an incredible achievement. A final AP Poll ranking of 23rd was more than likely exactly who Butler was, but it’s sure a shame that Kamar Baldwin (16.2 Pts, 4.6 Reb, 3.3 Ast) did not get a chance to show off his clutch gene in the NCAA Tournament.
Prior to last season, one thing that had plagued Jordan and his Bulldogs was an inability to win away from home, something that they remedied in 2018-19. Butler was 4-13 in away or neutral games two seasons ago but took a huge leap in 2019-20 going 8-6 away from the friendly confines of Hinkle Fieldhouse. That is a recipe for major improvement, and a trend, that if it continues will have fans buying in in a big way to Jordan’s system.
Jordan definitely has this program on the right track. That said, replacing Baldwin and Sean McDermott (11.7 Pts, 6.3 Reb, 1.0 Ast) is a difficult undertaking. Here’s a quick view of Butler’s key losses heading into 2020-21:
Key Losses- Kamar Baldwin, Sean McDermott, Jordan Tucker (8.9 Pts, 3.8 Reb, 0.7 Ast), Henry Baddley (3.2 Pts, 1.4 Reb, 0.2 Ast), Kahlif Battle (3.0 Pts, 1.0 Reb, 0.5 Ast) and Derik Smits (3.1 Pts, 1.7 Reb, 0.5 Ast)
Baddley, Battle and Smits both played under 15 minutes a game, but those losses still hurt Butler’s depth, which as you will read is probably the teams’ biggest weakness. Baddley was a defensive specialist that became a surprisingly reliable and timely shooter in his senior season, both things that will be missed to a degree, but can be masked.
Tucker, while talented, was a streaky high-volume shooter and was never able to develop enough as a ball handler to allow him to drive to the basket with consistency. Despite the depth concern, the Bulldogs should be able to replace the role players just fine, but how will Jordan’s group cope without its best shooter, McDermott, and best playmaker, Baldwin?
Let’s find out what to expect from the 2020-21 version of the Butler Bulldogs…