Freshman Butler shines for Syracuse with aggressiveness, elite shooting

first_img Facebook Twitter Google+ Published on February 1, 2013 at 10:25 pm Contact David: [email protected] | @DBWilson2 The Syracuse bench was dotted with sweat suits during the Orange’s win over Seton Hall on Wednesday.Shanee Williams, Pachis Roberts and Carmen Tyson-Thomas all didn’t dress, largely for precautionary measures. It was a testament to the Orange’s depth—head coach Quentin Hillsman had the confidence to go without three players, including his sixth man. But he still needed someone to come up big. That player was Brianna Butler.“Brianna Butler was tremendous tonight,” Hillsman said after SU’s win over the Pirates. “She was as aggressive as she’s been in a long time.”With Tyson-Thomas sidelined after having a tooth pulled, Butler turned in a career-high 14 points in SU’s (17-3, 5-2 Big East) 65-34 victory over the Pirates. The freshman sharpshooter knocked down 4-of-9 3-point attempts and helped fill the void left in the scoring column by Tyson-Thomas’ absence. The performance lifted her scoring average to 7.7 points per game and her 3-point percentage to 33.5 percent.The addition of the highly touted freshman class meant that starting lineup mainstays such as Tyson-Thomas and Rachel Coffey have been relegated to reserve roles this season. Even so, it’s paid dividends for Syracuse as each of the three freshmen in the starting lineup – Butler, Cornelia Fondren and Brittney Sykes – have played critical roles. For Butler, it’s been that of the shooter, and it’s a role the Orange needs her to continue excelling in Saturday when it takes on Providence at 1 p.m. in the Carrier Dome.AdvertisementThis is placeholder text“We’ve got a lot of great shooters,” SU center Shakeya Leary said, listing Butler as one of them. “ … Everybody’s going to be worried about the outside presence, so it’s going to make it more effective for Kayla and me.”Butler entered the locker room during the win over the Pirates with just five points and just one 3-pointer. But the second half was a clinic.More than two minutes into the second half the 450 Syracuse fans dotting the Carrier Dome bleachers remained on their feet, waiting for the Orange’s first field goal of the half. Butler grabbed a defensive rebound and the break was on. The freshman brought the ball up court herself and confidently pulled up from beyond the arc for her first 3 of the half.SHU responded with a jumper, but then Syracuse broke the game open with a 19-1 run. Sykes kicked off the run with a pair of buckets, then came Butler’s second 3 of the half, this time from the left wing—the same spot on the floor she hit her 3-pointer in the first half. Less than five minutes into the frame, Butler had already matched her first-half production.Butler went without another bucket for nearly eight minutes, at which point she drained her fourth and final 3-pointer of the game from the right wing. By then the game was already in hand.“I guess you could say I was feeling it,” Butler said. “But I wouldn’t have been able to score if it wasn’t for my teammates to pass it to me.”With Tyson-Thomas out of the lineup, it was La’Shay Taft who filled in as sixth man. Less than two minutes into the game, she came in to replace Butler as the first player off the bench.The guard didn’t score, but contributed valuable minutes off the bench.“Our players picked the slack up for that because those two players are important players for us,” Hillsman said. “Our bench and our starters did a really good job.”So back came Butler minutes later. When she returned to the court she made an impact almost immediately. Two minutes after checking back in for Taft, Butler showed off her versatility, showed that she’s not just a shooter.The guard set up on the left side of the paint in the high post. From there, she went to work on her defender, executing a smooth spin move to get around the defense in the post to free herself up for an easy layup.Butler was more than a shooter on Wednesday night. She was a complete, aggressive basketball player. It paid dividends, and it’s what the Orange will need all season.“Coach usually gets on me for not looking at the basket, I usually pass it,” Butler said. “But today I was more offensive-minded.” Commentslast_img

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