|Written by Michael Patrick|
Bet on NCAABWhen Shelvin Mack attacked Pitt during the tournament by scoring 30 points and seeming unstoppable from 3 point range, you would have never guessed that this guy only averaged 15 points per game this season, with the majority of those games coming in the Horizon League, a middle of the road mid-major. When he came out and nearly repeated his performance against Florida, he confirmed to many what Butler fans already knew: as Mack goes, so do these Bulldogs.
There were times this season when the Bulldogs were anything but stellar. Even though they started the season ranked in the top 10 due to their finals performance last season, there were still numerous questions that were left unanswered, the big question being: How would they get along with Hayword?
The beginning of the season and even during the conference season at times, did not bode all too well for the Bulldogs. In conference losses to both Milwaukee and Valparaiso, Mack was a non-factor, and even in a win over conference foe Youngstown State, Mack only scored 6 points.
But Mack stayed positive and kept working even though the shots did not fall on many nights during the season. “I was missing a lot of wide-open shots,” commented Mack. “I always tried to remain positive, keep working hard each day. The next shot is the most important shot.” It has been this approach has jettisoned the Bulldogs, once again, into the Final Four, with an opportunity to take what they could not last season from Duke.
It is no secret that the Bulldogs have reached this point due to their outstanding play on the defensive end; However, their defense is definitely not as stingy as last season, and they have displayed a need for more offense, and that has been where Mack has come in during the post-season. Guard play, especially that of the point guard, is crucial for success in the tournament, and if Mack can continue his tremendous effort on both ends of the floor, then he will give his Bulldogs an opportunity to return to Indianapolis with some hardware.