D.J. Davis, Connor Turnbull lead Butler to exhibition win over Ohio Northern

The new-look Butler Bulldogs men's basketball team debuted Saturday at Hinkle Fieldhouse in an exhibition game against Division III Ohio Northern.

Three Bulldogs reached double-digit scoring with D.J. Davis' 13 points leading the way to a 78-46 victory. Pierre Brooks II finished with 12 and freshman Finley Bizjack added 10 off the bench.

Here are five takeaways from the Dawgs' exhibition opener.

D.J. Davis shows off long-range shooting

Davis came to Butler with a reputation as a 3-point marksman after three strong seasons at UC-Irvine. Davis got the start opposite Posh Alexander in the backcourt and quickly showed why his teammates consider him the team's best shooter. Davis shot 3-for-4 from 3 and 4-for-4 from the free throw line.

The Bulldogs haven't had many knock-down shooters with limitless range in recent years. Even when he's not scoring, Davis' presence makes life easier for his teammates.

"That's what he does. The young man can really, really shoot the basketball," Butler coach Thad Matta said. "It's such a luxury to have. When he lets it go, you've got a pretty good feeling that it's going in.

"Teams are going to have to really lock in on him and that's going to allow Posh, Landon (Moore) and those guys to get deeper inside the defense."

Connor Turnbull unleashed on the perimeter

Injuries and an overall lack of team size forced Connor Turnbull to spend long stretches of his freshman season at the center position. This offseason, Matta and his staff brought in true centers in Bucknell transfer Andre Screen and freshman Boden Kapke to pair with returning starter Jalen Thomas.

The added beef allowed Turnbull to play on the perimeter offensively, and the 6-10 sophomore showed athleticism that was hidden with him stuck in the post.

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Twice against Ohio Northern, Turnbull caught the ball on the left baseline, pump faked, dribbled past his defender and rose for ferocious slams.

"I'm just trying to be aggressive and just take what the defense gives me," Turnbull said. "A couple guys jumped on some shot fakes, so I just drove to the basket."

Turnbull was already one of the better spot-up shooters on the team. The ability to put the ball on the floor, attack the rim and protect the paint makes him a matchup nightmare.

Turnbull finished with nine points, three rebounds and a team-high three blocks in 17 minutes.

"We sort of made a collective effort this year to put Connor throughout all practice in those positions (on the perimeter)," Matta said. "Maybe he'll have to play the 5 for us at times, maybe he doesn't this year.

"The biggest thing is that he's probably in the best shape he's ever been in his life.He's able to sustain more minutes. … The shot fakes and drives were good to see."

Pierre Brooks II aggressive attacking the basket

Michigan State transfer Pierre Brooks II joined Davis, Alexander, Thomas and Jahmyl Telfort in the starting lineup. Brooks, a former four-star recruit, was used sparingly during his two seasons in East Lansing, averaging just 8.2 minutes per game.

With the Bulldogs, Matta wants Brooks to use his strong 6-6, 240-pound frame to put pressure on the interior of the defense.

Brooks scored 12 points on 5-of-9 shooting with one made 3-pointer. No Polar Bears defender had the strength or speed to keep Brooks out of the lane. Brooks showed the ability to create contact and finish, earning a team-high four free throw attempts.

"Coach Matta put that stigma on me to stay aggressive, and I think I've been aggressive, for sure," Brooks said. "I want to stay aggressive. That's an asset and part of my play style as well."

Landon Moore handles backup point guard duties

Once Alexander committed, his experience and playmaking ability made him the likely starter at point guard. The player filling the backup point guard role was less clear.

With several capable options, St. Francis transfer Landon Moore ran the offense well, finishing with eight points and tying for the team lead with three assists. At 6-3, Moore's size allows him to fill multiple roles. He's comfortable off the ball, and he's strong enough to guard small forwards as part of a three-guard lineup.

All of Butler's guards do a good job of creating for teammates. Keeping the ball moving will be key for the Dawgs this season.

"Spacing wise and just the ability to move the basketball around was pretty good," Matta said. "That's something we've done a great job of this season in practice is we really, really shared the basketball. The ball zips around."

Butler's versatility makes for endless lineup combinations

At one point, Butler had Moore at point guard, Bizjack and Davis at the other guards, along with Turnbull and Kapke in the frontcourt. This lineup features the team's best pure shooters, creating a long and versatile lineup.

There will likely be an adjustment period needed for all the new faces to gel, but it's clear that Butler improved its length and shooting ability.

Andre Screen flashed offensive potential to go along with his imposing size inside. If the Dawgs need to go big, Screen has the strength to hold his own at center, allowing a more skilled big to play next to him. Davis and Bizjack can run the offense when needed. Telfort and Brooks have the strength to play the 3 or the 4. With so many versatile pieces, it will be interesting to see which combinations grow into the most efficient and effective lineups.

This article originally appeared on Indianapolis Star: Butler basketball: Five takeaways from Bulldogs win over Ohio Northern