Indiana Daily Student

Kellen Dunham will present problems for IU

Sophomore forward Collin Hartman and Freshman guard Robert Johnson box out an offensive player during the game against Mississippi Valley State Friday at Assembly Hall.
Sophomore forward Collin Hartman and Freshman guard Robert Johnson box out an offensive player during the game against Mississippi Valley State Friday at Assembly Hall.

Kellen Dunham is one of the country’s best shooters. It’s a fact.

Butler’s junior guard may be more comfortable shooting from deep than anywhere else on the floor. Over half of Dunham’s field goal attempts have been 3-pointers, and his 3-point shooting percentage is higher than his 2-point rate.

As a top-100 national recruit in the Class of 2012, Dunham was sought after for his ability to shoot the ball.

“What Dunham does really well is shoot the basketball,” his ESPN.com recruiting profile begins. “How he goes about his business is akin to a master craftsman applying his trade.”

In his two-plus years at Butler, Dunham has continued to shoot, but has developed into an upper-tier scorer.

He led Butler with 16.4 points per game last season and leads the Bulldogs in scoring again this season. He’s one of only three Butler players averaging more than 30 minutes per game this season and has taken 15 more shots than any teammate.

In just over two seasons, Dunham has transformed his offensive approach. The shift hasn’t gone unnoticed.

“The bottom line is he’s more than just a shooter, he’s a scorer,” IU Coach Tom Crean said. “He’s a guy that can drive. He has an arsenal he can get to off the dribble.”

On Saturday, Dunham will be the newest challenge for an IU team that has struggled to slow star scorers in recent seasons.

Crean said no matter how talented a shooter an opponent is, he won’t change IU’s defensive gameplan. Dunham is no exception.

“Doesn’t change it at all,” Crean said of IU’s defensive approach. “We play against great shooters all the time.”

The problem lies not in Dunham’s ability to shoot the ball, but what that threat does to a defense. Skilled shooters often force defenders to choose between playing tight – slowing a defensive rotation – and closing out hard when the ball gets to them.

Trouble comes in those decisions. Close out too hard, and Dunham can drive past his man. Play too close to him and lose reaction time on help defense.

IU junior forward Collin Hartman has seen firsthand how difficult those decisions can be.

“I played against him in All-Stars and stuff like that,” Hartman said. “He’s a great shooter. Loves to do shot fakes. Very crafty, great shooter.”

Dunham knows he poses a shooting threat, so he often pump fakes and drives past a closing defender. If that happens, it creates even more trouble for defenses.

That’s where he creates the most problems, Crean said. It’s not the actual shot that hurts defenses, but the threat of one.

“What he does, there’s a lot of movement after he makes the catch,” Crean said. "There’s a lot of shot-faking, putting his shoulder into you, jumping into you. You have to be very, very smart with how you defend him.

“You’ve got to be very, very disciplined not only with your individual defense, but with your team defense with him.”

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