2013-14 College Basketball Season Preview: Butler

Written by Paul Banks of the Washington Times, David Kay and Peter Christian of the The Sports Bank. Send Paul an e-mail here: paulb05 AT hotmail DOT com.
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Butler Bulldogs (Last Year: 28-10, 13-5 in A-10)

2013-14 Projected Depth Chart:

F/C: Erik Fromm (Sr)/Nolan Berry (Fr)

F: Kameron Woods (Jr)/Andrew Chrabascz (Fr)

F: Khyle Marshall (Sr)/Andy Smeathers (Jr)/Roosevelt Jones (Jr-out for season)

SG: Kellen Dunham (Soph)/Devontae Morgan (Soph)/Elijah Brown (Fr)

PG: Alex Barlow (Jr)/Jackson Aldridge (Jr)/Rene Castro (Fr)

Gone: PG-Rotnei Clarke, C-Andrew Smith, SG-Chase Stigall, F/C-Emerson Kampen

2013-14 Outlook:
For the second straight season, the Butler Bulldogs have a new home; moving from the Horizon League to Atlantic 10 and now to the Big East. This time, Butler must do so without head coach Brad Stevens, who surprisingly bolted this summer to the Boston Celtics. Former Bulldogs player and assistant Brandon Miller now assumes the top-dog role and faces the challenge of replacing some key contributors from a year ago.

Butler already suffered a huge blow this offseason when Roosevelt Jones was lost for the year after tearing ligaments in his wrist during the team’s summer trip to Australia. Jones’ versatility made him a valuable asset, especially since he was likely play a point forward role for Butler this year.

Now, the Bulldogs enter their new league with major questions at the point. Former walk-on Alex Barlow developed into a key role player for Butler last season and appears to be the likely candidate to replace Rotnei Clarke at the one. Australian Jackson Aldridge has played minimally in his first two years with the Bulldogs but should see expanded minutes this year. Freshman Rene Castro would be the option for Miller at the point.

Clarke’s ability to light it up from deep will also be sorely missed, but Butler has a capable three-point gunner in Kellen Dunham. The babyfaced shooting guard must take on a more prominent role as a scorer this season since seldom used Devontae Morgan and freshman Elijah Brown are the only other options at the two.

Jones’ absence means Khyle Marshall emerges as the team leader this year. He is a physical forward but hasn’t truly come into his own yet. Lengthy, athletic forward Kammeron Woods also steps into a much larger role this season as will Erik Fromm who figures to take over for Andrew Smith in the middle.

Frontcourt depth is a concern for Miller with freshman Nolan Berry and Andrew Chrabascz. Both guys are skilled for their size but don’t bring a lot of physicality to the paint, which means Butler will be vulnerable on the inside. Junior Andrew Smeathers is another Bulldog who has played sparingly at the college level but might see more minutes this year.

Questions at the point guard position and a lack of real size or grittiness inside will make Butler’s transition to the Big East challenging. Stevens had built a culture of success for this program, regardless of who was on the floor and what opponent was trying to stop them. Replicating that success will be no easy task for Miller, especially as the team takes another step up with their level of competition.

Player to Watch: Kellen Dunham, SG
For Dunham to be the go-to guy at Butler, he needs to become more than a one-trick pony. Everyone knows he can light it up from deep, and opposing defenses will do their best to force him off the three-point line. Dunham must become more well-rounded with the rest of his offensive repertoire and provide the scoring boost the Bulldogs will need to remain competitive.

Key Non-Conference Games:
  • 11/19 vs. Vanderbilt
  • 11/28 vs. Washington State (Old Spice Classic)
  • 11/29 vs. Oklahoma State/Purdue (Old Spice Classic)
  • 12/1 vs. Memphis/Siena/LSU/St. Joseph’s (Old Spice Classic)
  • 12/14 vs. Purdue

  • Predicted Big East Finish: 8th

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