rakes_take_400The final score might have indicated that Butler had an easy time with St. Bonaventure on Wednesday night. The circumstances would tell you otherwise.

The Bulldogs did pick up their largest A-10 win of the season in the 77-58 defeat of the Bonnies. It topped their 15-point win over Richmond on January 13th in terms of margin of defeat. It also resembled that victory in terms of the absence of a key player.

Roosevelt Jones left the game with Butler leading 41-32 with just shy of 18 minutes to play in the game. He injured his left shoulder attempting to challenge a shot from St. Bonaventure. He’d stay on the bench for a few moments, then would head to the locker room without returning.

The Bulldogs proceeded to go on a 15-3 run in his absence, effectively ending any chances St. Bonaventure had of scoring the upset. SBU would get no closer than 14 the rest of the way.

After the game, Brad Stevens told the assembled media that Jones could play on Saturday at George Washington, although a determination wouldn’t likely be made until Friday.

That wasn’t the only injury scare for the Bulldogs during the game. Kameron Woods, whose back-to-back baskets in the first half helped erase the last Butler deficit of the night, took a hard tumble to the floor trying to catch a pass against St. Bonaventure pressure. Woods remained on the floor for sometime after making a sickening thud when crashing to the ground. After a few moments, he’d walk to the Butler bench, and did return later in the game.

Then again, not all the wounds for Butler on Wednesday night were of the physical variety. Erik Fromm played with the heaviest of hearts, just days removed from his father Len losing his battle with cancer. Fromm was given two standing ovations on the night. His first when he entered the game early in the first half, his second when he made his lone basket, a three-pointer that would be Butler’s final bucket with 3:39 to play.

The team will attend a celebration of life ceremony in Bloomington today. A night after a solid team win, they’ll continue to be a team helping a teammate through a terrible loss.

Much of the ‘Butler Way’ that has been so widely discussed over the last decade has similar tenets to what we’ve heard from the just as successful Indianapolis Colts. ‘Next man up’ ring a bell? That was never more true for the horseshoes this year as when Chuck Pagano missed 12 games while fighting his battle with leukemia.

The next man up for Butler was one of their oldest veterans. Chase Stigall connected on three first-half three-pointers and scored a season-high 12 points. He was part of an all-bench 13-0 run in the opening half for the Bulldogs. They would never trail again.

So, we probably shouldn’t be that surprised that Butler didn’t miss a beat while a starter missed nearly the entire half, a key reserve had an injury scare, and another key reserve played with his mind understandably elsewhere. That’s what this program is about, and it’s what they were about for four games in January with Rotnei Clarke watching from the sidelines.

It might have looked like the average game for Butler against a very average team. Believe me, it was anything but.

Trees stand tall

Congrats to Indiana State, big winners in their biggest home game in years. They didn’t just beat 16th ranked Creighton, they demolished the Blue Jays 76-57. Indiana State led by as many as 28, and held Creighton’s national player of the year candidate in Doug McDermott to eight points, and a goose egg in the second half.

Jake Odum was the star of Wednesday night in the Hulman Center, scoring a game-high 22 points and in the process joining the 1,000 point club at ISU. He’s the unquestioned leader and best player of a team that appears more and more likely of heading to the NCAA tournament, whether they win the Missouri Valley tournament in St. Louis in a month or not.

Now the Sycamores have to avoid the stumbles against the bottom half of the league. The good news for ISU is that they have just three true road games remaining. They’ll host Southern Illinois on Saturday looking to avenge an earlier loss in Carbondale.

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