On Saturday, December 9th, the Youngstown State Penguins visit the Butler Bulldogs in a throwback match-up from the Horizon League. The Bulldogs own a 21-3 advantage in the series and have a perfect record at home. Youngstown State’s last win came 2011, a 62-60 decision. That was Butler’s last loss until they were defeated by Connecticut in the National Championship.
Youngstown State is seeking it’s first win on the road this season under first year head coach, Jerrod Calhoun. The Penguins have struggled this year with only two wins, both over teams that are not affiliated with Division I basketball. In fact, according to kenpom.com, the Penguins aren’t favored to win a game until the play Detroit on February 16th of next year, a 51% chance of winning that game.
Fortunately for the Bulldogs, Youngstown does not strut a lot of height on the floor, an advantage that Joey Brunk, Nate Fowler, and Tyler Wideman need to capitalize on.
A few players to watch from Youngstown include Senior Cameron Morse. He has scored over 1500 points. Sophomore Braun Hartfield has the ability to score in bunches, putting up 33 points in an earlier game this season.
With Butler, winner of their past four games, finding a rhythm on offense to go with their somewhat disciplined defense, will we see continued growth with ball movement? In their last two games, the Bulldogs have 26 assists on 56 made field goals. In their two losses and their poor outing against Ohio State that still resulted in a win, the Bulldogs had 25 assists on 67 made field goals. Butler appears to be evolving in it’s understanding of where their strengths and weaknesses lay depending on the personnel on the floor.
Senior Kelan Martin passed Bobby Plump for 15th all-time on for career points scored at Butler. Joey Brunk was granted a red-shirt and reclassified to freshman status for eligibility. Sean McDermott is expected to miss 4-5 more weeks due to an ankle sprain he sustained while playing out in Portland in the PK80 tournament.
For the Bulldogs to win, they will have to use their size to their advantage, continue to move the ball, and not become complacent on either end of the ball. If their shooting goes cold, Bulldog fans could be in for a long day.