Butler Basketball: All Systems Go After Early Struggles

Collin O'ConnorCorrespondent IJanuary 2, 2011

INDIANAPOLIS - APRIL 03:  Head coach Brad Stevens of the Butler Bulldogs looks on while taking on the Michigan State Spartans during the National Semifinal game of the 2010 NCAA Division I Men's Basketball Championship on April 3, 2010 in Indianapolis, Indiana.  (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
Andy Lyons/Getty Images

It was easy to write off Butler after their early losses and poor performances, but there was always something nagging in the back of my mind telling me they'd be back.

They are.

Last year started this way as well with losses to Minnesota, Clemson, Georgetown and UAB, but we all know how that season ended for them.

Playing good teams doesn't automatically make a team better, but for them, it does. Brad Stevens makes sure Butler is tested early and for right reasons. Yes, he's young, but he is definitely a top-15 coach throughout the nation in teaching his team and having them prepared.

Losing to Xavier and Evansville were definitely disappointing for him, but they didn't just forget about the loss and move on. Stevens used it as a tool to make his team better.

"The bottom line is that we're a pretty good basketball team that has its moments...It's more about coming to work everyday and figuring out what we can get better at," Stevens told NCAAB Fanhouse.

All of their games in Hawaii backed this up. They dodged a battle against the ranked opponent in Baylor because they were upset by Washington State, but Butler did defeat Florida State and Washington State, too.

If basketball scouts lined up Butler's five starters and Florida State's five starters, Florida State's five would be the first team picked. They have the looks of the athletic, jump out of the gym type of play, like many NCAA teams do around the country.

The difference between those teams and Butler is the way they play, "The Butler Way," if you will. I'm not going to sit here and blow steam about how the "Butler Way" is better than everyone else's playing style, but the results don't lie.

They play physical, they play smart and they don't beat themselves.

The Bulldogs just finished their non-conference schedule at 8-4, but have two conference wins already. They learned from their losses, and should roll through the Horizon League again this year, perhaps maybe a loss here and there.

However, this will be a team to be reckoned with again come tournament time.

"I'm not concerned at all with our start," Stevens said. "If you start 10-0, you're always worried about the next opponent. If you're 6-4, you're always worried about the next opponent. It really doesn't matter. I'm not focused on the final results of the game as much as I'm focused on getting our team better." (NCAAB Fanhouse)


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