The question was asked a lot last March and into the summer: What will Butler's success mean for the league on the court?
Halfway through the League season it's evident that the Horizon League is more physically tough and Butler's success may be to blame.
Coaching changes and new personnel are other reasons for a more bruising League, but the blueprint that Butler, and to a lesser extent Cleveland State, has laid out shows you can win consistently in the Horizon League with smart, physical players. That blueprint is much easier to copy than finding superior talent or simply trying to out-coaching everybody else with similar talent.
The best example of the League's increased toughness was Sunday in Valpo. Neither Green Bay or Valpo would have been mistaken for the Bad Boy Pistons the last few years. Yet on Sunday, both teams were throwing their bodies around trying to impose their will in the paint.
"They're definitely physical," Valparaiso sophomore Matt Kenney said."
A stark contrast to the perimeter oriented games we've seen between these two teams in the last half decade.
Tough physical play = success in the Horizon League.
Detroit starting making waves when coach McCallum brought in physical guys like Xavier Keeling, Thomas Kennedy and Eli Holman.
Valpo has a different type of intensity this year led by captain Howard Little, human bowling ball Matt Kenney, and their Dutch enforcer Kevin Van Wijk.
Note: Van Wijk's presence has taken a lot of the onus off of Cory Johnson's back as the sole big man for Valpo.
Green Bay is transforming from an offense-first team to a defense and rebounding squad. Thanks in large part to their first ever 7-footer.
Butler's struggles have come against big (read: thick) frontlines at Loyola and Milwaukee.
Teams noticed why Butler has been successful, and who they struggled against. Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery...until you get popped in the mouth.
An entire entry on physical play without the word physicality. I KNEW it could be done.
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