Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Stat Line of the Day: April 5th

Butler Bulldogs: 12-64 (18.8%), 9-33 from three (27.3%), 41 points
Oriakhi and the Huskies shut down 
Howard and the Bulldogs in the paint
It's amazing just how poorly Butler shot from the floor--not that they'd been shooting great the entire tournament (at 40.3%, they were under the tournament average), or for that matter the whole season (a mediocre 49.8 eFG%, 130th in the country), but even those numbers would have gotten Butler an easy victory over UConn. Instead, the Bulldogs shot the 2nd-lowest percentage in tournament history--that's right, no matter what round--and the lowest percentage in the history of the national championship game. Shelvin Mack, whose hot shooting carried Butler past Pittsburgh and VCU, shot 4-of-15 from the field. Matt Howard, whose heroics lifted his team past Old Dominion in the first round, went only one for his 13 shots. UConn does deserve some credit for that low percentage--while there were quite a few open shots missed, it's a testament to the Huskies' interior defense that the Bulldogs actually shot worse from two-point territory (3-31) than they did from three-point territory (6-33). It's not like UConn had shot the ball much better for the first 30 minutes or so (they finished at 34.5%), but there wasn't a single player on Butler--not even center Andrew Smith, who shot 2-for-9--who managed to have a decent day shooting the rock. It was really a shame of a championship game, in my opinion--these were two schools capable of putting on a show, who instead looked nervous. For a while it seemed like neither team actually wanted to win this game, but that might have been because Kemba Walker sat out the last few minutes of the first half with two fouls, and most of the offensive opportunities went to Roscoe Smith and Jeremy Lamb, who weren't quite ready to play on the sport's biggest stage. However, the only shooting people will remember from this game were all the Bulldog shots that clanked off the rim.

Honorable Mention

Neil Walker (PIT): 3-for-4, 1 run, 2 RBI, 1 double
Okay, so maybe Neil Walker didn't have the greatest night out of everybody in Major League Baseball, but I wanted to spotlight his first four games: .412/.444/.765 with one home run and seven RBIs. At this point, Walker is officially off to a "hot start," as the Pirates beat the Cardinals last night for their 3rd win in their first four games. The last above-.500 record the Pirates had last year was 7-6, but the way the top of their order is batting, they could look to maintain a pretty decent record into May or June for the first time in years. We said a few weeks ago that Pittsburgh had potential, and they're living up to it in these first few games. Jose Tabata had a slow spring, batting .230 as of our report on March 28th, but is hitting .429/.529/.429 (yes, quite a few singles) from the leadoff spot thus far in the year. It's still quite a small sample size, but you might want to keep an eye on Pittsburgh.

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