College Basketball Nation: Gordon Hayward

Butler's Khyle Marshall braces for doubters

June, 30, 2011

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. -- Khyle Marshall can’t bring himself to do it.

The Butler forward hasn’t watched tape of the Bulldogs’ ugly loss in the national championship game to Connecticut, and he doesn’t plan to because what‘s done is done. In focusing on the future, Marshall envisions people doubting a team that once again will have to form a new identity.

“They always use what we lost last year as fuel to bash on us and say that we can’t do what we did last year, especially when we did it two years in a row,” Marshall said. “There’s always going to be more doubts, and that’s just something we let go in one ear and out the other. We just worry about our team and just play hard and stay motivated.”

[+] EnlargeKhyle Marshall
Chuck Cook/US PresswireForward Khyle Marshall and Butler are preparing for another season of surprising their critics.
Butler has indeed lost a lot for a second straight offseason -- so much so that it might not even be the favorite to win the Horizon League next season. Shelvin Mack left school for the NBA after his junior year, and the college careers of stalwarts Matt Howard and Shawn Vanzant came to an end as well.

That means without three of his top four scorers, Butler coach Brad Stevens will rely upon Marshall and others to step to the forefront. Marshall was the self-described energy guy for the team as a freshman and shined while playing solid minutes in the NCAA tournament. The Florida native who’s currently playing for USA Basketball’s U-19 world championship team understands he’ll have to do more in order to move into the starting lineup.

After averaging 5.8 points and 3.8 rebounds and buying into Stevens' preference that he bring a rebounding presence off the bench, Marshall has been working on his outside jumper and ball-handling in preparation for a larger role. He was second on the team in field goal percentage and now Stevens wants him to play more small forward. Personally, he has a chip on his shoulder because it appears few outside of Indianapolis think the Bulldogs can actually get back to the Final Four.

“As a team joke going around, we just call ourselves the king of bracketbusters because we’re always messing up people’s brackets,” Marshall said. “That’s something that we love to do. It’s something we just want to continue.

“All we want to do is just prove people wrong.”

Marshall believes the coming season might present an even greater challenge than when Butler lost Gordon Hayward to the NBA draft, and it certainly wasn’t easy getting back to the title game even with a veteran team. Butler was 14-9 at one point last season and needed to learn to stop living off the past, he said. The Bulldogs ended up reeling off 14 straight wins, and America fell in love all over again. The team fell short of the national championship after a horrific night shooting the ball, but Marshall said he’s over it.

“It did take quite a bit [of time],” he said. “Pretty much all you hear is worst shooting performance in NCAA finals history, and that’s something you can’t get rid of. It’s in the books. It’s permanent. It’s something we always got to remember, keep in our minds, and just hope we don’t have a shooting performance like that ever again. It’s something Coach has told us.

“Everybody on campus, they believe we can do it again, and I know our guys they want to do it again. We just need one more step to win it all. They are hungry to win it all.”
There's still time. I have to remind myself that sometimes, because my brain is currently on bubble overload. Today we'll publish our second Bubble Watch of the season, and as I'm learning (this is my first year doing Bubble Watch) it's really hard to spend so much time evaluating teams and not let the bubble picture tinge every piece of analysis you write. Because it is only the first week of February, and the bubble picture is far from complete. It's an important thing to remember.

That said, we are far enough into the season that we can be sure of a few things, and one of the few things I'm sure of, right here, right now (hat tip: Jesus Jones) is that 2010's national title runner-up needs to win its conference tournament even if it wants to avoid being 2011's NIT inclusion.

Yes, we're talking Butler, and yes, Butler lost again last night. This wasn't just any old loss, though. It was a loss to mighty Youngstown State, a team that is now 2-10 in the Horizon League and 6-14 overall. The Penguins are about as bad a loss as you can take at this point in the season, both in RPI terms and from a sheer reality-based (read: efficiency) perspective. Youngstown's RPI comes in at -- avert your eyes -- No. 269. Their Pomeroy rank is No. 276. They are, not to be rude, a pretty bad team. And now Butler will have to pay the consequences.

Of course, the Bulldogs wouldn't be in this position if Youngstown State was their only bad loss. It isn't. The Bulldogs have been swept by Wisconsin-Milwaukee in conference play and lost to Evansville at home all the way back in November; all of those losses carry a distinct "bad loss" stench that will be hard to wash off. Nor do the Bulldogs have any really good wins to speak of. Their only RPI top 50 victory came against Cleveland State on Jan. 7, and their wins against Florida State and Washington State in the Diamond Head Classic in December won't do them much good when it comes to impressing the committee.

But perhaps the most damning piece of their profile is this: After last night's loss, Butler is now 6-5 in Horizon League play. 6-5! The Horizon League is never a conference in which you can go 6-5 through your first 11 games and expect to make the NCAA tournament with anything but a late-season conference tournament title run. It just isn't going to happen.

Can Butler do it? Well, sure. Frankly, anything can happen in conference tournaments, and you'd probably still take the Bulldogs' experienced starting five over any team in the Horizon League in a single-game elimination tournament. But Butler has been hounded (sorry) all year long by its very mediocre defense. It's no secret the Bulldogs have seen a drastic downtick in defensive efficiency since losing Gordon Hayward and Willie Veasley from last season's team. At this point in the season, projecting an equally drastic "hey, we figured it out" development in Indianapolis seems like wishcasting. (This is shocking, considering how well Ronald Nored and Shelvin Mack defended opposing guards in last year's NCAA tournament. It appears we should have been giving just as much credit to Hayward and Veasley.)

These Bulldogs are not who we thought they were. And, as of last night, their at-large chances are kaput. In a season full of surprise disappointments, Brad Stevens's team -- which has gone from the precipice of a national title to the National Invitational Tournament in a matter of 10 months -- might be the biggest letdown of all.

Video: Sport Science -- Butler's last shot

December, 3, 2010

In honor of Round 2 of Butler-Duke, Sport Science examines how close Gordon Hayward’s shot came to beating the Blue Devils in the national championship game in Indianapolis last April.

Brad Stevens likes acronyms

September, 10, 2010
While John Wooden had the Pyramid of Success, Butler coach Brad Stevens has The Butler Way and some acronyms to help describe it.

He talked about what SHARPENS stands for during a speech the other day. According to the Washington Times-Herald:
The Butler way, in a nutshell, forms the acronym SHARPENS: Selflessness, Humility, Accountability, Resiliency, Passion, an "Even keel," "No doubts," and "Service to others."

The coach talked about all those traits, that have not only been stressed by him over the past two years, but by the coaches that came before him at Butler.

But wait! The usage of SHARPENS is apparently flexible as well. The Indianapolis Star in 2008 had Stevens talking about it as well, only with the "H" standing for honesty, the "R" for respect and the "E" for enthusiasm.

This wouldn't be the first time a Stevens-generated acronym was tinkered with. He also came up with TGHT to stand for "The Game Honors Toughness" and preached it with his players.

The only problem with that was the Bulldogs laughed as they rebranded it "Teach Gordon Hayward Toughness."

Brad Stevens has the most beautiful eyes?

September, 9, 2010
Baby-faced Butler coach Brad Stevens got a lot of face time on television during the NCAA tournament.

Now he's lending his image to help Prevent Blindness Indiana raise money, entering in the organization's Most Beautiful Eyes contest that asks people to donate in order to vote for the submitted profile pics with the best-looking set of eyes.

As it turns out, a good amount of people are voting that Stevens' eyes are the most beautiful.

He leads all celebrity contestants with 100 votes thus far, besting the other in-state coaches who are competing. Indiana's Tom Crean has garnered 71 votes and Purdue's Matt Painter has, well, none.

Stevens is still trailing a couple kids in the overall competition, neither of whom are named Gordon Hayward. That's because the fresh-faced former Bulldogs star has picked up only five votes himself.

Crean, Painter and Hayward still have until the end of the month to try to catch Stevens in the voting.

Summer Buzz: Butler Bulldogs

August, 2, 2010
For the next month or so, our friends at The Mag are previewing one high-profile school per day for their Summer Buzz series. For the sake of all that is synergistic, yours truly will be attempting the same, complementing each comprehensive Insider preview with some adjusted efficiency fun. Today's subjects? Butler and Syracuse. (Syracuse will be posted later this afternoon.) Up next? Georgetown.

In retrospect, we should have seen Butler coming.

Sure, hindsight is 20/20. And sure, the Bulldogs lost a few early-season nonconference games (to Minnesota, Clemson, Georgetown, and UAB) that made their torrid undefeated run through the hapless Horizon League difficult to evaluate. Still, teams with defenses as efficient as Butler's -- which ranked No. 5 in the country in adjusted defensive efficiency by the end of the season, a mark that improved as the team worked through its brilliant bracket run -- don't come along all that often.

Butler's methodical march to the precipice of a remarkable national title was a great story off the court. On the floor, it was less surprising. Even when it struggled to find points, Butler's stifling team defense was just that good. We should have seen it coming.

[+] EnlargeHayward
Andy Lyons/Getty ImagesNot only will Butler miss Gordon Hayward's scoring, but the Bulldogs need to replace his defensive production as well.
Will we make the same mistake in 2010-11? Will Butler be good enough to give us a chance? Or, with the losses of Gordon Hayward and Willie Veasley, did Brad Stevens and company leave their best chance at a national title in Indianapolis?

Simply enough, those answers will depend on how well Butler can cope with the aforementioned losses, how Butler's remaining core -- a formidable one -- can collectively recreate Hayward's considerable offensive and defensive production.

And make no mistake: Hayward's contributions came all over the floor. While not a dominant player in any statistical category, the athletic 6-foot-8 forward was blatantly good at some things and subtly good at others. The blatantly good: Shooting (52.7 effective field goal percentage) and scoring (112.7 offensive rating), drawing fouls (5.5 fouls drawn per 40 minutes) and getting to the free throw line (57.9 percent free throw rate).

But Hayward, perhaps less blatantly, was also a major factor in Butler's defensive excellence. His block rate of 2.8 percent helped shore up Butler's interior defense, and he had by far the best defensive rebounding rate -- 23.3 percent, ranking him 67th in the country in the tally -- of anyone in Butler's often undersized lineup. The team's next-highest defensive rebounding percentage, 16.5, belonged to Matt Howard.

That last stat is notable for more than proving Hayward's versatility. In fact, Hayward's contributions on the defensive glass were the one thing holding Butler back from being a truly vulnerable defensive team. The Bulldogs' only real weakness in 2009-10 came on the defensive boards: Butler allowed its opponents to rebound 27.8 percent of its misses, the 18th-highest figure in the country. With Hayward gone, it's unclear who can help Butler shore up that already-exposed area of an otherwise stalwart defense.

Howard is the obvious candidate, but thanks to chronic foul trouble, Howard played few key minutes during Butler's tournament run. That will have to change; Howard will have to find a way to guard bigger, stronger opponents without taking himself out of the game for key stretches.

Another likely candidate is sophomore Andrew Smith. The 6-foot-11 forward has played limited minutes in his freshman season but was forced into action in the tournament by Howard's foul-prone habits. Smith is a big body, and playing him alongside Howard could alleviate the pressure on Butler's former Horizon League player of the year both in guarding and blocking out fellow big men.

Butler also has a pair of sneaky-good recruits that Stevens will hope can combine to approximate some form of the versatility lost with Hayward and Veasley's absences. Khyle Marshall, a 6-foot-6 small forward with a wealth of athleticism, was the No. 22-ranked small forward in the 2010 class. There's also 6-foot-9 Indiana native Eric Fromm, a power forward who's shown a penchant for defensive rebounding and an ability to start the break on the dribble. Some combination of those players -- mixed in with relative newcomer Smith -- could help Butler avoid the obvious pitfalls of losing Hayward's defensive contributions.

Butler will still be very good elsewhere. Shelvin Mack and Ronald Nored are two of the best perimeter defenders in the country. Mack is good enough to handle an increased offensive scoring load. Howard, provided he can figure out how to stay on the floor, will be as solid and productive as ever. Butler was never particularly lethal on offense in 2009-10 -- even Hayward had his noticeable offensive flaws -- but they didn't have to be.

Whether that equation changes will have everything to do with whether Butler's newcomers can make up for the less noticeable things Hayward did for his team on the defensive end. If the Bulldogs can find a way to keep their only subpar area -- defensive rebounding -- from becoming an even greater liability in Hayward's absence, the Bulldogs won't be a surprise to anybody. They'll just be good.

If so, we'll see them coming before our brackets are completely busted. That much we know for sure.

John Wall skipping the ESPY Awards

July, 14, 2010
John Wall has been nominated for the ESPY Awards for Best Male College Athlete and Best Breakthrough Athlete, but the former Kentucky star won't be rubbing shoulders with the other celebrities Wednesday night in Los Angeles.

According to the Washington Post, Wall has decided to skip the event due to scheduling conflicts -- including a meeting for NBA rookies.

But that doesn't mean college basketball won't be well represented at the event.

Butler should have a presence in anticipation of the Duke-Butler NCAA tournament championship game winning the award for Best Game.

Butler coach Brad Stevens, forward Matt Howard and former star Gordon Hayward are expected to be in attendance.

And Northern Iowa coach Ben Jacobson, along with former players Ali Farokhmanesh and Jordan Eglseder, also hope to take the stage and win the award for Best Upset. After beating Kansas in the second round of the NCAA tournament, it would probably be an upset if they didn't.

College basketball's ESPY nominations

June, 24, 2010
Kentucky's John Wall, who is expected to be the first overall pick in today's NBA draft, headlines college basketball's ESPY nominations with two of them. Wall will go up against Ohio State's Evan Turner among others in the category for Best Male College Athlete and is also nominated for Best Breakthrough Athlete.

Here's a rundown of the rest of the college basketball nominees...

Best Championship Performance:

Anthony Johnson's 34-point second-half outburst for Montana in the Big Sky conference championship game against Weber State

Prediction: If big names and big stages have the advantage, it's going to be hard to beat Drew Brees in the Super Bowl.

Best Upset:

Northern Iowa shocks top-ranked Kansas in the second round of the NCAA tournament

Prediction: Y.E. Yang beating Tiger Woods in the PGA Championship was also a stunner, but Ali Farokhmanesh and Co. should walk off with the hardware.

Best Game:

Duke gets past Butler in the NCAA championship game

Prediction: Twins over the Tigers in a tiebreaker game? Canada over the USA in overtime for the gold medal? Unlike Gordon Hayward's shot, this one isn't close.

Best Coach/Manager:

Duke's Mike Krzyzewski

Prediction: Phil Jackson seems to be the current sentiment, but Geno Auriemma could be a dark horse.

Krzyzewski made $4.1 million in 2008-09

June, 8, 2010
The News & Observer of Raleigh obtained tax filings showing that Duke University paid coach Mike Krzyzewski at least $4.1 million in 2008-09, a dramatic increase from the $1.3 million he pulled in from the school during the 2005-06 fiscal year.

From the report:
In that 2008-09 fiscal year, the university reported that it paid Krzyzewski $3.76 million in taxable income. That was made up of $1.96 million in base pay and $1.75 million in bonuses or incentives in 2008-09, according to the new tax filing. Because Duke doesn't release to the public its coach contracts, it is not clear what incentives were met. Typically, coaches are paid extra money for winning titles, advancing in the NCAA tournament, being ranked high in polls and players achieving at certain levels in the classroom.

The university also paid Krzyzewski $418,172 in deferred compensation and he received about $14,000 in nontaxable benefits.

So there you have it. In case you weren't sure, yes indeed, Coach K is one of the highest paid coaches in America.

And who knows what kind of bonuses or escalators kicked in this year at the very moment Gordon Hayward's shot barely missed.
NCAA coaches got what they wanted: a mostly stress-free May and early June.

No one can whine anymore about an early-entrant testing the draft process and holding the program hostage for two months. The NCAA's deadline passed Saturday, and the with the official early-entry list forthcoming from the NBA this week, the uncertainty of rosters -- save a few late recruits -- is no longer an issue for 2010-11.

Some of the programs either hit or salvaged from the decisions had obvious consequences. Earlier in the blog, I discussed the impact on Kentucky and the rising programs at NC State and Richmond. Here are some quick takes on 10 other schools affected in some way by the draft process:

  • Purdue is now a Big Ten co-favorite along with Michigan State and a realistic team to reach the Final Four now that JaJuan Johnson and E'Twaun Moore have decided to stay in school and join Robbie Hummel to give the Boilermakers three senior studs.
  • BYU will remain a Mountain West title contender with the return of Jimmer Fredette. New Mexico will have to be in reload mode with the early departure of Darington Hobson and the graduation of Roman Martinez.
  • Butler is still the clear favorite to win the Horizon, but no longer a projected Final Four repeat visitor with Gordon Hayward's decision to stay in the draft.
  • Ole Miss lost Terrico White, a likely first-round pick, but the Rebels still have leading scorer and fellow guard Chris Warren, who didn't flirt with the NBA draft.
  • Mississippi State lost its point guard (Dee Bost), but got back its shooter (Ravern Johnson) and will at the very least be back on the NCAA bubble again.
  • Illinois hopes to get off that bubble and in the NCAA tournament with the return of Mike Davis and Demetri McCamey.
  • Virginia Tech has a chance to be an ACC contender with Malcolm Delaney's sensible decision to return. The Hokies return essentially their entire roster.
  • With Alex Tyus listening to reasoned minds and returning to school (his father and uncle thought he should leave Florida because he wasn't playing the 3 position), the Gators can now claim they have all five starters back for the first time since starting the season as the preseason No. 1 in 2006.
  • Xavier lost its best player in Jordan Crawford and won't be the A-10 preseason favorite that it probably would've been. Meanwhile, Temple remains a contender in that conference with the return of Lavoy Allen.
  • Penn State wasn't going to be an NCAA team either way, but at least it has its marquee player returning in Talor Battle.
There's no question that the NCAA's decision to cut back from two months to 10 days had a positive affect for coaches. Players who normally may have had time to work out and move up on the second- or first-round board didn't have a chance. There were barely any workouts to be had, so the players didn't get a true chance to test the draft process.

For some likely first-round players, it didn't matter as they were leaving anyway with the fear of a lockout and a lower rookie salary scale in 2011 and beyond. For many others, however, the lack of workout opportunities and inability to go to the NBA-sponsored Chicago draft camp probably forced them to return to school.

That's good for the coaches and their nerves, but is it good for the players and the overall process? That's debatable.

What's not is that it's the new reality.
Given the way Gordon Hayward's season ended -- with two just-misses that gave Duke the 2009-10 NCAA title -- most would have expected him to be conflicted about his decision to enter the NBA draft. He has two more years of eligibility left, his teammates are all returning, and with him in the fold, Butler would have a great chance of making it back to the Final Four and finishing the job in 2010-11. Defer the NBA and come back to win a title? Or take the first-round money and begin a pro career?

[+] EnlargeGordon Hayward
Brian Spurlock/US PresswireGordon Hayward gave up his remaining two years of eligibility to enter the NBA draft.
As it turns out, Hayward chose the latter. Was it tough? This is the sort of decision I'd spend weeks agonizing over. Hayward, on the other hand, seems pretty confident in his choice:
"I'm pretty ready," Hayward said. "My mind's pretty made up, and it's been made up for a while now, at least since talking to my dad about it after the (college basketball) season. I've never really wrestled with it, at least in a pure basketball sense; it was no decision for me.

"My only concern would be the transition -- going from dorm life and hanging out with teammates, who are my best friends, the same age, they like the same things that I do -- to a business, a job. Certainly, it's going to be a lot of fun. Not many people get to play basketball for a living. But at the same time, you're traveling, living on your own. Those are the only things that concern me, but I'm excited about that, too."

If I read that right, Gordon Hayward's main concern isn't whether or not he's ready to be an NBA player on the court. His main concerns, far as I can tell, are whether or not his new teammates will like him, and also whether or not he's going to have to worry about balancing his own checkbook and, like, paying rent on time. That stuff is scary, sure. I still don't know how to balance a checkbook. But if you ask me, assuming basic adult responsibilities and fitting in with NBA veterans would not be nearly as scary as getting dunked on by Amare Stoudamire. If Hayward is that confident he can play in the league, well, no wonder he made up his mind so early.

Hayward staying in draft?

May, 5, 2010
The Butler-Duke rematch set for Dec. 4 just got a whole lot less exciting. Bulldogs star Gordon Hayward, who was testing the draft waters without an agent following his stellar junior season will, according to the Indianapolis Star, stay in the NBA draft and hire an agent.

The decision makes sense. Hayward climbed up draft boards throughout the 2009-10 season, a climb helped by Butler's unlikely run to the NCAA tournament final. The one-time, three-star recruit from Brownsburg, Ind. is now a first-round lock according to ESPN Insider's Chad Ford; Hayward's father recently said he's been told that Hayward won't fall any further than No. 20 overall, and could go as high as No. 10, right in the middle of the lottery. If the NBA draft is about striking while the iron is hot, Hayward is timing his strike perfectly.

In the meantime, Butler fans will be disappointed, and not just because Hayward won't be around Dec. 4 to help the Bulldogs avenge their title game loss. With the 6-foot-9 swingman, Butler was a favorite to win the NCAA title next season. Without him, Brad Stevens' team will still be formidable -- they'll have center Matt Howard and guards Shelvin Mack and Ronald Nored still in the fold; the 2010-11 Bulldogs will still be ruthless on defense -- but they won't have the star that could have pushed them over the top.

Instead, this leaves Duke and Michigan State -- and maybe Purdue, depending on the decisions of JaJuan Johnson and E'Twaun Moore -- as your early preseason favorites for the 2010-11 NCAA title. Butler will still be a very good team, but it won't be the same. The last shot of Hayward's college hoops career may be the closest they get to the NCAA title for some time.

Will Gordon Hayward be back?

April, 15, 2010
Other than perhaps Kyle Singler and Greg Monroe, Gordon Hayward was the one big name in college basketball who hadn't declared, one way or the other, whether he was going to declare. Would he stay for another year and go back at the title with Butler? Or take his skyrocketing NBA draft stock and run? The answer, as of late yesterday, is -- drum roll, please -- we don't know.

Hayward is doing what so many others in this class have done: He's testing the NBA waters without hiring an agent.

You know the drill here: Hayward will get out there, get a feel for how much NBA teams love him, do a few workouts, and then decide by the draft deadline whether or not he really wants to do this. The difference for Hayward is that there is a lot riding on a few draft spots. The Butler forward is currently a first-round lock, according to Chad Ford, which means he could go anywhere from the late lottery to late in the first round. Which means he could earn as much as, say, a No. 12 pick -- $1.63M in 2009-10's NBA rookie scale. Or, if he's drafted late in the first round -- say, No. 25 overall -- could earn as little as $900,000.

The question Butler fans might ask is whether that disparity would be enough to bring Hayward back for another year. If you can get in the lottery, great. You almost have to go for it. But if you're a low first-round pick, and you have Gordon Hayward's talent, and you think you can come back for a junior year and top yourself, do you do it?

There's also this to consider: Hayward's father, Gordon Sr., has been told that his son will be selected between Nos. 10 and 20 in the draft and likewise revealed that his son has received so many requests and prayers from Butler fans that he had to take down his Facebook page:
"He's pretty solid 10 to 20," Gordon Sr. said. "It's not an easy decision disappointing all the great and wonderful Butler fans, if it turns out that way."

In other words, it sounds like Hayward is intent on seeing this NBA thing through. He's not just testing for testing's sake. At the same time, if he doesn't hear good things in the between today and the draft deadline, he still has his amateur status and a loaded Butler team to welcome him back. That, my friends, is a win-win.

Coach K: Duke likely would have lost in OT

April, 7, 2010
Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski made the call for Brian Zoubek to purposely miss his second free throw attempt rather than have him try to put the Blue Devils up by three with 3.6 seconds to go.

Butler's Gordon Hayward got the rebound and his halfcourt heave nearly won the national championship for the Bulldogs.

Today in an interview on the Dan Patrick Show, Krzyzewski defended his decision, explaining that given the situation, going into overtime was "not an alternative" for Duke since Zoubek and Lance Thomas were playing with four fouls.

"If it goes into overtime, it’s not a good situation for us with David and Goliath, and we’re playing an away game," Krzyzewski said. "We’re in foul trouble.

"I think we lose. Not the defeatist attitude, but we have a better chance of losing if that extreme happens and a better shot of winning if the extreme that occurred happened."

Krzyzewski said it wasn't an easy decision for him to make and one he had plenty of time to think through. He called playing for overtime "conservative" and instead went for the win.

"It turned out right," he said. "It turned out well. I don’t think you can say one is right and one is wrong. It’s always the thing that turns out well that turns out to be right."


Video: Sport Science on Butler's last shot

April, 7, 2010

Sport Science examines how close Gordon Hayward's shot was to going in and beating Duke.