Butler NCAA Notebook: Quick hits from Friday

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The return of the running back bump?

It’s one of the more photogenic moments of Butler’s NCAA Tournament runs in 2010 and 2011. Whenever the Bulldogs pulled off a big victory, Butler Head Coach Brad Stevens gives one impressive running back bump.

The Bulldogs have yet to see the success since that run that leads to such a show of emotion from his coach. Would a trip to the Sweet Sixteen, which would take an impressive win over #3 seed Marquette (24-8), bring such a moment?

“Plan on one tomorrow night,” said Butler Senior Emerson Kampen. “Plan on one tomorrow night, that is the plan. I think after the Sweet Sixteen, it happens every single time. We really don’t have a rhyme or reason, we just do it in the heat of the moment. I think we did it against Old Dominion, just because it was so close.”

That’s of course if Butler pulls off the victory, and if Coach Stevens gives Kampen the signal.

“He usually just kind of points at me and we know what the deal is,” said Kampen. “We didn’t do it yesterday, so hopefully we can do it tomorrow.”

Bulldogs expect first game jitters to be all gone

To no surprise of anyone, some of the Butler Bulldogs perhaps looked a little antsy and excited to be playing in their first NCAA Tournament game Thursday afternoon in the team’s 68-56 victory over Bucknell. Now that key players, such as Kellen Dunham, Rotnei Clarke, and a handful of others have gotten their first game out of the way, the Bulldogs expect the team to be in full force come Saturday.

“Once you get through the first round you start to figure things out,” said Butler Senior Chase Stigall. “You start figuring out how things move and how things work. It is nice because once you get that first round done, those butterflies are gone. You can just settle down and play basketball.”

After the Bulldogs practice on Friday afternoon he could sense the team is in a good place now mentally, and the whole staff has taken notice.

“It was kind of interesting,” said Butler Head Coach Brad Stevens.

“Michael Lewis was here today for the first time with our group. I guess everyone in our group and on our staff kind of has this experience, and I guess a couple of our grad assistants are the same way. He was talking about how we are very business-like when we need to be business-like, and very kid-like after that. I think that is what we have always been. You guys have been in our locker rooms, our guys are goofballs. They are normal, and they tweet stuff and you kind of look at them thinking ‘you are 18-22, I forgot that’, but that’s what they do. They are good at turning on that switch, and this group is the same in that regard.”

Smith a talented, but humble, big man

Butler Senior Andrew Smith has had some success dealing with big men in 2013, having to play against the likes of Indiana’s Cody Zeller, Gonzaga’s Kelly Olynyk, and most recently putting up 14 points and 16 rebounds against Bucknell’s Mike Muscala in Thursday’s victory.

It’s performances like that, and the way he handles himself among the team, that his Bulldogs teammates have so much respect for him.

“Andrew is just a humble guy,” said Butler Sophomore Kameron Woods.

“He is not going to come in here and talk about how he played yesterday or anything like that, he just goes out there and gets the job done. I think he comes to the game with a business approach, he just comes in here to go to work everyday. That’s what he does, he works hard in here and off the court, he just a great teammate.”

Smith, the only current player in the NCAA who has played in two National championships, is averaging 11.1 points and 6.0 rebounds per game. And though he never quite wants to talk about it unless you pressure him with questions, Smith feels good going into any game against any opponent.

“The confidence is there,” said Smith. “But also as you saw yesterday, Khyle started on Muscala, so I can’t take all the credit.”

Mark down another humble moment for Smith.

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