Butler Begins Men’s Basketball Practice
INDIANAPOLIS, IND. -- Butler begins a new season under a new head coach in preparation for its first year in a new conference when it holds its first men's basketball practice on Saturday, Sept. 28. The Bulldogs will begin their preseason workouts with an eye on their 2013-14 season-opener at home against Lamar on Nov. 9.
Change has become a familiar word around the Butler basketball camp since last year's team ended a 27-9 campaign in the third round of the NCAA Tournament. Former head coach Brad Stevens left in July to become the head coach of the Boston Celtics, and former player and assistant coach Brandon Miller was named to the Bulldogs' top position just days later.
Then in the first game of Butler's summer trip to Australia, top returning player Roosevelt Jones suffered a season-ending injury to his left wrist. And the biggest change is ahead - Butler's move this season from the Atlantic 10 Conference to the 10-team BIG EAST!
But for the moment, Miller and the Bulldogs are focused on the first practice.
"It's exciting," said Miller of starting fall practice as the team's head coach. "We had fun this summer with the 10 practices leading up to Australia. But at the same time you have your guys for the first day that college basketball is able to practice. I think our guys are really looking forward to it; our guys have a different feel even right now, a little more pep in their step. It's a great time of the year."
Miller, a standout guard on Butler's teams from 2000-03, has nine active players returning from last year's squad, which tied for third in the A-10, finished runner-up at the Maui Invitational and posted three victories over teams ranked in the "Top 10." Included in that group are returning starters Khyle Marshall and Alex Barlow. Marshall averaged 9.6 points and 4.5 rebounds, while leading the team in field goal shooting. Barlow led the team in steals and finished third on the squad in assists.
Also back are senior Erik Fromm, juniors Kameron Woods, Jackson Aldridge, Andrew Smeathers and Elliott Kampen, and sophomores Kellen Dunham and Devontae Morgan. Dunham averged 9.5 points, while playing in all 36 games as a freshman, while Woods led the team in blocked shots for a second straight year and finished third on the squad in rebounds.
New to the squad this year are freshmen Nolan Berry, Rene Castro, Elijah Brown, Andrew Chrabascz, Steven Bennett and Michael Volovic. Berry was a three-time All-State performer at De Smet High School in St. Louis, Mo., while Castro was the Massachusetts Gatorade Player of the Year as a junior at Worcester Academy. Brown (Mater Dei, Los Angeles, Calif.) and Volovic (Carmel, Ind.) led their high school teams to back-to-back state titles, while Chrabacz led Cushing Academy to the 2013 NEPSAC AA title. Bennett, the 12th all-time leading scorer at New Castle Chrysler High School, was named Co-Player of the Year on the 2012-13 Courier-Times All-Area Team.
The Bulldogs will hold regular practices for four weeks, before facing their first exhibition contest against Nova Southeastern on Tuesday, Oct. 29. That game at Hinkle Fieldhouse is scheduled to start at 7 p.m. (ET). Butler will play a second exhibition game against DePauw on Saturday, Nov. 2, at 2 p.m.