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Sophomore Matt Howard led the Bulldogs in both scoring and rebounding in 2008-09.
Sophomore Matt Howard led the Bulldogs in both scoring and rebounding in 2008-09.
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Bulldogs Continue Basketball Success Run

April 14, 2009

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CHAMPIONSHIP SEASON: As basketball success stories go, Butler's 2008-09 campaign fell squarely into the "remarkable" category. Butler head coach Brad Stevens took a team with no seniors and just one returning starter and turned it into a championship squad that earned national recognition and a third consecutive berth in the NCAA Tournament! The Bulldogs matched the fourth-highest single season win total in school history with a 26-6 final record and claimed a third straight Horizon League regular season title (despite being picked fifth in a preseason poll of league coaches, media and sports information directors). Stevens guided the Bulldogs to 11 road victories, which matched the second-highest total in the nation, and 15 Horizon League wins, the third-highest mark in league history! Butler climbed into the "Top 25" in both the Associated Press (A.P.) and the ESPN/USA Today national polls for 12 consecutive weeks, including three weeks among the nation's top 15 teams. Only 10 teams in the nation finished with a better winning percentage than Butler's .813 mark, and only five teams had fewer losses. The Bulldogs became just the 10th team in league history to win 26 games.

Butler's nine regular season titles are the most in Horizon League history.

20-PLUS: The Bulldogs posted their 11th 20-win season in the past 13 years and their fourth consecutive. Butler also won 20 regular season games for the third straight year and for the fifth time in school history. The Bulldogs' 25 regular season victories matched the third-highest total in Butler basketball history.

The Bulldogs became the first Horizon League team to record three consecutive 25-win seasons.

BONUS PLAY: Butler advanced to post-season tournament play for the 11th time in 13 years in 2009. The Bulldogs earned bids to the NCAA Men's Basketball National Championship in 1997, 1998, 2000, 2001, 2003, 2007, 2008 and this season and to the National Invitation Tournament (NIT) in 1999, 2002 and 2006. Butler has 10 postseason wins over the past 13 years.

Butler leads the current Horizon League membership with nine NCAA Tournament appearances.

RECORD RUN: Butler's 85 wins over the past three seasons set a school and Horizon League record for most wins in three consecutive years, breaking the previous mark of 77 wins set by Butler from 2000 to 2003. The Bulldogs also own the two-year record with 59 wins, 2006-08.

TOP DOG: Butler sophomore Matt Howard became the third Butler player in the past four seasons to be named Horizon League Player of the Year. He further was named first team All-League and was picked to the league's five-player All-Defensive team. The 6-8 forward led the Horizon League in field goal shooting (.550), while ranking fourth in scoring (14.8) and rebounding (6.8) and second in blocked shots (1.5). Howard follows former teammate Mike Green (2007-08) and Brandon Polk (2005-06) as recent Butler players to be named league Player of the Year. Last season, Howard was named Horizon League Newcomer of the Year and was chosen second team All-League.

Matt Howard is the fourth player in Horizon League history to be named Newcomer of the Year and Player of the Year in consecutive seasons.

FRESH LOOK: Freshman Gordon Hayward capped off his first regular season with the Bulldogs by being named Horizon League Newcomer of the Year. The first-year forward, who also was named first team All-League, led all Horizon League freshmen in scoring and rebounding, and he ranked among the league's "Top 10" overall in both categories. He became the third consecutive Butler player to be named league Newcomer of the Year, following Mike Green (2006-07) and Matt Howard (2007-08). Hayward became the second Butler freshman to be named league Newcomer of the Year (Matt Howard was the first), and just the second Butler freshman to be named first team All-Horizon League, following Tony Warren in 1979-80.

Butler became the first Horizon League school to have the league's Newcomer of the Year in three successive seasons.

NEW KIDS: Freshman Shelvin Mack joined teammate Gordon Hayward on the Horizon League All-Newcomer Team in 2008-09. Mack was the top freshman in the league in assists, and he ranked third among all newcomers in scoring. The other three players on the All-Newcomer squad were juniors - Tone Boyle and James Eayrs of Milwaukee and DeAndre Mays of Youngstown State.

CLASS OF ONE: Butler's Gordon Hayward was the only player in the Horizon League to rank in the "Top 10" in the ten different statistical categories! He finished eighth in scoring (13.1), fifth in rebounding (6.5), fifth in field goal shooting (.479), second in 3-point field goal shooting (.448), fifth in free throw shooting (.815), fifth in 3-point field goals (2.2), seventh in steals (1.5), sixth in blocked shots (0.9), third in defensive rebounds (5.0) and seventh in minutes played (32.7). He was the top freshman in all 10 categories.

NATIONAL PICKS: Gordon Hayward was tabbed third team All-Freshman by, while Shelvin Mack earned honorable mention on the freshman All-America squad selected by the basketball website.

DEFENSIVE STAND: Butler finished second in the Horizon League and sixth in the NCAA Division I in team scoring defense (57.9). The Bulldogs held four of their last five opponents under 60 points and kept 20 total opponents to 59 points or less. Butler led the Horizon League in three-point field goal percentage defense (.321), while ranking second in field goal percentage defense (.385). The Bulldogs were 18-2 when holding an opponent below 60 points.

Butler ranked seventh in the NCAA Division I in field goal percentage defense.

ALL-DISTRICT: Butler's duo of Matt Howard and Gordon Hayward were among 10 players named to the All-District 12 team, chosen by the National Association of Basketball Coaches. Howard was named first team, along with Ben Woodside (North Dakota State), Ryan Tillema (Green Bay), J'Nathan Bullock (Cleveland State) and Erik Kangas (Oakland). Hayward was picked second team, along with Brett Winkelman (North Dakota State), Josh Mayo (UIC), Todd Brown (Wright State) and Robert Jarvis (Oral Roberts).

LEAGUE HONOR: Butler head coach Brad Stevens was named to 2008-09 Horizon League Coach of the Year, after leading the Bulldogs to the league regular season title. He became the fourth different Butler coach in the past decade to earn the league's top honor, following Barry Collier (1999-2000), Thad Matta (2000-01) and Todd Lickliter (2005-06 and 2006-07).

QUICK STUDY: Brad Stevens has moved into the No. 2 spot on the NCAA Division I list for Best Career Coaching Starts-Two Seasons with his 56-10 career record. Bill Guthridge of North Carolina holds the top spot with a 58-14 record from 1998 to 1999, while Everett Case was 55-8 in his first two seasons (1947-48) at North Carolina State. The No. 4 spot on the list is Stevens' former boss, Todd Lickliter, who was 53-12 in his first two seasons at Butler, 2002-03!

ALL-TOURNAMENT: Butler's duo of sophomore Matt Howard and freshman Shelvin Mack both were named to the five-player Horizon League All-Tournament Team, following the league championship. Howard scored 38 points in Butler's two tournament games, including a game-high 24 points in the Bulldogs' semifinal win over Wright State. Mack had 25 points in the tournament, including a team-high 18 points in the championship game. Rounding out the All-Tournament squad were Cedric Jackson, Norris Cole and J'Nathan Bullock, all of Cleveland State.

Matt Howard earned Horizon League All-Tournament recognition for the second consecutive year.

SMART PICK: Matt Howard was one of 15 NCAA Division I basketball players named to the 2008-09 ESPN The Magazine/CoSIDA Academic All-America Team. Howard, a finance major with a 3.727 grade point average, was picked second team on the honor squad and was the lone sophomore among the 15 players chosen. He became Butler's third Academic All-American in two seasons, joining former teammates A. J. Graves (second team) and Drew Streicher (third team) who were honored in 2007-08.

POLLING DATA: Butler was ranked in the "Top 25" in both the Associated Press (A.P.) and ESPN/USA Today national polls for the final 10 weeks of the regular season. The Bulldogs, ranked as high as No. 11 this year, wound up at No. 22 in the A.P. poll (March 16) and No. 25 in the ESPN/USA Today poll (April 8). Butler has been ranked in at least one poll for 31 weeks under second-year head coach Brad Stevens.


•Butler sophomore Matt Howard was named honorable mention on the 2009 Associated Press All-America team. He also was named to the five-player All-Mid-Major Team, and he joined teammate Gordon Hayward on the 21-player Mid-Major All-America Team.

•Matt Howard posted the third-highest sophomore scoring total in Butler basketball history with 475 points in 2008-09. Howard also owns the third-highest freshman scoring total with 417 points in 2007-08.

•Matt Howard stands fifth on Butler's list for career field goal shooting after two seasons. The 6-8 sophomore is shooting .566 (289-511) over his first two seasons.

•Matt Howard averaged 18.7 points over Butler's last 10 games. He posted nine consecutive double-figures scoring performances to end the season, including a career-high 30 points against Loyola.

•Matt Howard tied the third-highest single season total for blocked shots in Butler history with 48. The second-highest total is held by Brandon Polk (205-06) with 50, while Butler's single season record of 64 was set by 7-2 Rolf van Rijn in 1996-97 and again in 1997-98. Howard ranked second in the Horizon League in blocked shots (1.5) in 2008-09.

•Matt Howard posted the fifth-highest single season total for free throws (177) in Butler basketball history. He's made 312 free throws in his first two seasons.

•Matt Howard was one of just four players in the Horizon League to score 30 or more points in a game this season (30 vs. Loyola, Feb. 15). Ryan Tillema of Green Bay (twice), J. R. Blount of Loyola and Josh Mayo of UIC were the other three.

•Junior Willie Veasley wound up eighth in the Horizon League in field goal shooting with a .460 mark. Veasley averaged a career-high 8.9 points in 2008-09.

•Sophomore Zach Hahn hit 43 of his 52 field goals in 2008-09 from beyond the three-point arc. He hit 17 of 23 field goals from three-point range during his freshman season.

•Freshman Shelvin Mack wound up second in the Horizon League in assist/turnover ratio (1.7). The first-year guard ranked sixth in the league in assists (3.5).

•Shelvin Mack became the third freshman in Butler history to record 100 assists, posting 111 in his initial season. Darrin Fitzgerald had 117 assists as a freshman in 1983-84, while Tim Bowen recorded 168 assists in his first season in 1990-91.

•Shelvin Mack placed 12th in the Horizon League in scoring with an 11.9 average, and he finished seventh in the league in three-point field goals with 57.

•Gordon Hayward and Shelvin Mack both finished in the top five on Butler's all-time freshman scoring list. Hayward took over the No. 2 spot with 420 points, while Mack finished in fourth place with 364. Tony Warren set Butler's freshman scoring record with 476 points in 1979-80. Hayward and Mack were the top-scoring freshmen in the Horizon League.

•Gordon Hayward became the first freshman in Butler basketball history to record 400 points and 200 rebounds. A year ago, Matt Howard became the first Butler freshman with 400 points and 175 rebounds.

•Gordon Hayward set Butler freshman records for most rebounds (207) and for most 3-point field goals (69). Matt Howard had the previous freshman rebounding mark (187), while Jermaine Guice (1990-91) owned the three-point record (51).

•Gordon Hayward, Shelvin Mack and Ronald Nored set a Butler freshman record for games started. Each started all 32 games in 2008-09, breaking the previous mark of 28 held by Tim Bowen (89-90) and Rylan Hainje (1998-99).

•Butler led the Horizon League in scoring margin (+9.8) in 2008-09. The Bulldogs also led the Horizon League in scoring margin in 2006-07 (+10.5) and in 2007-08 (+10.4).

•Butler topped the Horizon League in rebounding margin (+3.3). The Bulldogs out-rebounded eight of their last nine opponents and 22 foes on the season. The last time Butler out-rebounded its opponents for an entire season was 1999-2000, and the Bulldogs also led the league in rebounding margin (+3.5) that season.

•The Bulldogs finished second in the Horizon League in three-point field goals (8.0). Butler was 14-0 in 2008-09 when hitting at least nine three-point field goals in a game.

•Butler finished second in the league in field goal shooting (.438) and third in three-point field goal shooting (.352). The Bulldogs also finished third in the circuit in free throw shooting (.724), assists (13.0) and scoring offense (67.8).

Maybe You Missed This:

•The Bulldogs became the third team in Horizon League history to win 15 league games. Green Bay's 1995-96 squad and last year's Butler team both share the league record with 16 conference wins.

•Butler tied the Horizon League record for consecutive regular season league victories with 21 from January 2008 to February 2009.

•Butler became the second team in Horizon League history to achieve a national ranking in three consecutive seasons. Xavier cracked the Top 25 for three straight seasons, 1992-95, before leaving the Horizon League after the 1994-95 season.

•Since the start of the 2006-07 season, the Bulldogs have been ranked in the "Top 25" (A.P. and/or ESPN/USA Today) for 47 weeks. All other teams in the history of the Horizon League have been ranked for a combined total of 26 weeks.

•Butler faced three teams ranked in the "Top 25" in 2008-09. The Bulldogs defeated #14 Xavier, 74-65, while falling to #20 LSU, 75-71, and #21 Ohio State, 54-51. Butler is 9-11 against teams ranked in the "Top 25" since 2000-01.

•The Bulldogs compiled an 11-game winning streak from Dec. 20 to Jan. 30, matching the fourth-longest win steak in Butler basketball history. Butler opened the season with an eight-game win streak.

•Butler's victory over Wright State in the semifinals of the 2009 Speedway Horizon League Championship was the Bulldogs' 26th all-time Horizon League Tournament win, matching Detroit for the most tournament wins in league history. All 26 Butler wins have come since 1992.

•Butler head coach Brad Stevens picked up his 50th career win at Detroit in just his 56th career game! Only two coaches in major college basketball history reached 50 wins faster. Doc Meanwell was 50-1 at Wisconsin (1911-15), and Bill Carmody won 50 of his first 55 games at Princeton (1996-98). Buck Freeman of St. John's also won his 50th game in his 56th career outing.

•Brad Stevens was named the mid-season recipient of the Hugh Durham Award, presented by to the nation's top mid-major coach. Former Butler coach Todd Lickliter also received the mid-season honor from in 2006-07.

•Brad Stevens agreed to a contract extension that will keep him as the Butler men's basketball coach through the 2015-16 season. He's the only coach in Horizon League basketball history to have posted a 30-win season.