BUTLER'S CALEB WALKER CAN FINISH. (FERNANDO SALAZAR PHOTO) I was in El Dorado last night for the big game — and you can read Jeff Lutz’s game story about No. 18 Butler’s 81-74 win over No. 10 Hutch right here.
Make sure you check out our gallery, too. It’s linked to the story and Fernando Salazar got some great game shots.
I don’t know if I came away more impressed with Butler as a team or surprised at what Hutchinson had to offer. Here’s five thoughts from last night’s showdown at the Power Plant in El Dorado:
1. Cousin vs. Mitchell
The marquee matchup to watch, for me, was Butler point guard Anthony Cousin vs. Hutchinson combo guard Joe Mitchell. First off, Cousin played probably his best game of the year, good enough to get some more buzz circulating about his D1 prospects. Cousin is a qualifier so he can leave the Grizzlies after this year (which I’m assuming he does) and play three years at … wherever. Bradley head coach Jim Les was at the game last night, and I’ve got to think he had his eye on both Cousin and Butler guard/forward Caleb Walker. What people around these parts want to know, however, is if they think he can play at Wichita State. I don’t see why he couldn’t. Could Mitchell? Harder to tell. He scored 19 points last night and I didn’t come away thinking he played great, and a lot of that has to do with my next thought.That is, he doesn’t have a lot of help.
2. Where is Garrius Holloman? Where is Adonis Gantt?
I couldn’t help but thinking that these two are sorely missed. Forget having Robert Goff and Jawanza Poland, who probably should have been able to play this year, it’s these two who are the most conspicuous in their absence. Next to both names in the roster attached to the Hutchinson pre-game notes it simply reads “On indefinite suspension from team” — you have to think with Gantt and Mitchell in the backcourt together plus Holloman in the post things are A LOT different, but for some reason neither one could keep it together this season. With so much on the line, it makes you wonder about character issues with both players, especially when both guys have toed the line for so long leading up to this. Is it addition by subtraction? It didn’t seem like it last night, but the season’s not over yet.
3. Mike Bargen plays it pretty cool
If you had kept a camera on Butler coach Mike Bargen during the game, I don’t know if you could tell when he teams made a mistake. His ability to process problems and keep coaching without letting himself get distracted is very impressive, and as about 20 people told me last night — don’t expect him to be a Jayhawk coach for much longer at this rate. Why is keeping it cool important, you might ask? A LOT of coaches do the very thing they preach to players about not doing: They let one mistake distract them and it turns into two or three for their team because they lose focus on the game.
4. Steve Eck is still a really good coach
At different times in both the first and second half I thought the Blue Dragons were out of the ballgame, and they clawed their way back in each time. When you have as many lineup changes as Hutch has had this year then you have to revamp your coaching style constantly. Credit Coach Eck for being able to adapt on the fly and still almost pull out a win despite only suiting up nine players. After the game, I was talking to Jeff and neither of us could remember ever seeing an Eck-coached team get blown out.
5. Either team could win Region VI
Such is the nature of the Jayhawk Conference this season. Nobody can say they are the favorite. I got to talk to Jayhawk commish Bryce Roderick last night, and he told me that this year was striking in its parity amongst the Region 6 teams. And he’s seen everybody play so I’ll take his word at it.
6. BONUS BONUS BONUS When you’re in the BCC gym, you can’t help but look at that national championship banner for football.
It’s just so … full.
That’s all I got. TA