The Butler Bulldogs preseason began on a rough note with expected starting point guard Chrishawn Hopkins getting dismissed from the team. Still, Brad Stevens has enough talent on the roster to bounce back from a less than stellar year in the Horizon League and be extremely successful in transitioning to the Atlantic 10 Conference.
the point guard position becomes the biggest area of concern with Hopkins out of the picture. Arkansas transfer Rotnei Clarke likely takes over as floor general, which is a new position for one of the top three-point shooters in the country, since he was primarily used off the ball during his time with the Razorbacks. Sophomore Jackson Aldridge will resume his role as the backup though he is more of a shooter than pure distributor, just like Clarke. Freshman Chris Harrison-Docks will try to earn minutes off the bench as well.
There is decent talent on the wing, but Clarke's presence really provides a needed perimeter-scoring threat. Chase Stigall has been used primarily in a reserve role but will likely move into the starting five. Roosevelt Jones might be 6-4, but he plays much bigger on the wing, having led the Bulldogs in rebounding last year as a freshman. Freshman Kellen Durham is another sharpshooter who should be a dangerous weapon off the bench, while Andy Smeathers and DeVontae Morgan add more depth on the wing.
Butler returns a solid duo up feront with true big man Andrew Smith and Khyle Marshall. Smith led the team in scoring a year ago, while Marshall adds some athleticism and energy at the four. Kameron Woods is a lengthy, bouncy forward looking to build off a solid freshman campaign in which he made his biggest impact on the boards. Erik Fromm is a stretch four who will have to play some five behind Smith.
The Bulldogs have played a tough non-conference slate for the past several postseasons and proven they can hang with anybody. The level of competition obviously gets taken up a notch for Butler as the team joins a very competitive Atlantic 10 this year, but don't underestimate Brad Stevens' ability to have his squad competing for the conference crown right away.
Player to Watch: Rotnei Clarke, G
The three-point assassin was going to play a huge role for Butler this season, but that definitely got amplified with Hopkins' dismissal. Clarke's ability to transition from a pure scorer to scorer/distributor will be a vital factor to how successful the Bulldogs will be this season.
Key Non-Conference Games:
11/13 at Xavier
11/19 vs. Marquette (Maui Invitational)
11/20 vs. North Carolina/Mississippi State (Maui Invitational)
11/21 vs. Texas/Chaminade/Illinois/USC (Maui Invitational)
12/8 at Northwestern
12/15 vs. Indiana (Crossroads Classic in Indianapolis)