Challenging Slate Awaits Butler Men’s Basketball
INDIANAPOLIS, IND. -- Butler men's basketball coach Brad Stevens has always welcomed a challenge, which should make the Bulldogs' upcoming schedule an absolute delight. Butler's 2012-13 slate includes a tantalizing mix of traditional rivals, first time foes and national powers as a lead-in to the Bulldogs' first season in the Atlantic 10 Conference.
Butler will face at least 16 teams that advanced to postseason play in 2011-12. Included in that group are NCAA Tournament teams Indiana, Marquette, Gonzaga, Xavier, VCU, Vanderbilt, St. Bonaventure, Saint Louis and Temple. Additional 2012-13 foes Northwestern, Dayton, La Salle, Massachusetts and Saint Joseph's each played in the NIT, while Penn and Evansville were in the College Basketball Invitational (CBI).
"The non-conference portion of the schedule is, and always has been, terrific," said Stevens, who will be beginning his sixth season at Butler's helm. "And when we get into league play, without a doubt you can look at it and say that this is as challenging a conference schedule as Butler has played in a long, long time."
Butler's non-conference schedule includes a game against Indiana, a team tabbed at the top of several preseason polls, and a trip to the always-tough Maui Invitational. The Bulldogs will play Indiana at Bankers Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis on Dec. 15. Butler will meet Marquette in the first round of the Maui Invitational on Monday, Nov. 19. The tournament field also includes NCAA Tournament teams North Carolina, Mississippi State and Texas, plus Illinois, USC and Chaminade.
The rest of Butler's non-conference slate includes home games against Elon (Nov. 10), Hanover (Nov. 27), Ball State (Dec. 1), Evansville (Dec. 22), Penn (Jan. 2), New Orleans (Jan. 5) and Gonzaga (Jan. 19), and road games at Xavier (Nov. 13), Northwestern (Dec. 8) and Vanderbilt (Dec. 29). The unusual non-conference game against conference foe Xavier was scheduled as part of the ESPN Tip-Off Marathon prior to Butler joining the A-10. The Gonzaga game will cap a day that has ESPN Gameday visiting Hinkle Fieldhouse.
Butler will be introduced to the A-10 with a pair of rugged road games. The Bulldogs will visit Saint Joseph's on Wednesday, Jan. 9, and then travel to Dayton on Saturday, Jan. 12. Butler's first A-10 home game will be against Richmond on Wednesday, Jan. 16.
Other conference foes to visit Hinkle Fieldhouse in 2012-13 are Temple (Jan. 26), Xavier (Mar. 9), Saint Louis (Feb. 22), Charlotte (Feb. 13), Duquesne (Feb. 19), St. Bonaventure (Feb. 6) and Rhode Island (Feb. 2). The Bulldogs will play conference road contests at Fordham (Feb. 16), George Washington (Feb. 9), La Salle (Jan. 23), Massachusetts (Mar. 7), VCU (Mar. 2) and Saint Louis (Jan. 31).
"I want to play a schedule that energizes our players and gets them excited about the challenges they'll face," added Stevens. "This year we have road games in great places, like Maui, New York, Washington D.C., Philadelphia, etc. Our guys are going to have a chance for some great experiences, and that's the best part of this."
Butler returns four starters and 12 letterwinners from last year's 22-15 squad, which advanced to the semifinals of the CBI. Included among the returnees is 6-11 senior Andrew Smith, who was the team's leading scorer last season, and 6-4 sophomore Roosevelt Jones, who was the squad's leading rebounder. Stevens also has added four newcomers, including 6-0 senior guard Rotnei Clark who sat out last season after transferring from Arkansas. Clark averaged 15.2 points and earned second team All-SEC honors in his final season with the Razorbacks.