Sunday, December 30, 2007

Dec. 30 Player of the Week: Brian Butch

Note: This column originally appeared at

Despite the holiday-shortened week, there was plenty of outstanding basketball played the past few days. We had the A.J. Graves pull-up three to beat Southern Illinois; great finishes in the Oklahoma-West Virginia, Wisconsin-Texas and Florida State-Georgia Tech games; and marquee match-ups with Tennessee vs. Gonzaga and Memphis vs. Arizona. With all the great hoops came standout performances from across the country, including Dayton’s Brian Roberts, Oklahoma’s Blake Griffin, Winthrop’s Michael Jenkins and Tennessee’s Tyler Smith. However, the best overall performance which helped his team win came from Brian Butch of Wisconsin.

Butch came into school as a highly-touted big man who was expected to make an immediate impact for the Badgers. However, he never really lived up to his billings through most of his career in Madison aside from the occasional big game here and there. Well, coach Bo Ryan needed him on Saturday on the road against top-10 Texas and he came through in a major way. With leading scorer Trevon Hughes out, Butch had to step-up, and he did, scoring 21 points, grabbing 11 rebounds and also dishing out three assists. Butch was also clutch, hitting several big shots in the second half to keep Wisconsin in the game. On the season, Butch is averaging 13.6 points and 8.3 rebounds per game.

It remains to be seen if Butch will ever live up to his high school press clippings, as he has shown this type of ability before – only to fall back to a 10-point, five-rebound performance the next game. If Hughes is still out, the Badgers will need Butch to become a go-to-guy and a leader on the court. With Big Ten conference play looming around the corner, the senior is going to have to finish his career on a high note. Luckily for him and the Badgers, they open the Big Ten with an enormously easy schedule, playing four of the six games at home, with the only road games at Michigan and Penn State. It’s a great chance for Butch to continue his stellar play.

Jeff Borzello, founder, editor and lone writer of March Madness All Season, also writes weekly columns for

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