INDIANAPOLIS, IND. -- For the third consecutive year, Butler has
been picked as the Horizon League favorite in the annual preseason
poll of league coaches, media and sports information
directors. The Bulldogs received 28 of a possible 50 first
place votes and edged Detroit for the top spot in the poll.
The Bulldogs, coming off back-to-back appearances in the NCAA Division I National Championship game, received 468 points in the poll. Detroit, with 19 first place votes, picked up 453 points. Cleveland State received two first place votes and was tabbed third with 388 points, while Milwaukee picked up the remaining first place vote and finished fourth in the poll with 356 points. Cleveland State and Milwaukee tied with Butler for the Horizon League regular season title a year ago.
Valparaiso, under first-year head coach Bryce Drew, was picked fifth with 255 points, while Green Bay was sixth with 247 points. Youngstown State (195) was tabbed seventh, followed by Wright State (157), Loyola (145) and UIC (86).
“It’s a nice compliment to what
(Butler’s) teams over time have accomplished,” Butler
head coach Brad Stevens said of the poll. “One thing
the league has proven to be is not very easy to predict.
It’s a lot less about where you’re picked right now and
a lot more about who gets better and who can navigate the ups and
downs of a season.”
Voters also selected a preseason first and second team All-League squad. Detroit landed three players on the All-League first team, including preseason Player of the Year Ray McCallum. Joining McCallum were teammates Eli Holman and Chase Simon, along with Trevon Harmon of Cleveland State and Kaylon Williams of Milwaukee.
Butler’s Andrew Smith (right) was chosen second team All-League, along with Tony Meier of Milwaukee, Alec Brown of Green Bay, Ben Averkamp of Loyola and Ryan Broekhoff of Valparaiso.
Butler returns two starters and eight letterwinners from last year’s 28-10 squad, which captured a fifth consecutive Horizon League regular season title and a second straight league tournament crown. The Bulldogs won 14 of their final 15 games and matched their league- and school-record No. 2 ranking in the final ESPN/USA Today poll.
Smith started 32 games for the Bulldogs last season and finished as the team’s second-leading rebounder (5.6) and third leading scorer (8.5). He led the Bulldogs and finished second in the Horizon League in field goal shooting (.593). Sophomore Chase Stigall also was in Butler’s starting lineup when the Bulldogs faced Connecticut in the 2011 national championship game, while senior Ronald Nored was in the starting lineup when Butler met Duke in the 2010 national title contest. Nored led the Bulldogs in steals and finished second in assists last season, while Stigall finished fourth on the team in three-point field goals.
The Bulldogs will begin the 2011-12 campaign with a 7 p.m. (ET) exhibition game against Northern State at Hinkle Fieldhouse on Wednesday, Nov. 2. Butler will open the regular season at Evansville on Saturday, Nov. 12.