#58 Butler Bulldogs: College Basketball 111 in 111

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Welcome to The Sports Bank’s fourth annual college basketball season preview series where we break 111 teams in the 111 days leading up to the opening tip-off of the 2013-2014 season.  We will rank the 84 power conference teams (including the new Big East and American Athletic Conferences) and top 27 mid-majors in reverse power ranking order.  We’ll break down rosters, transfers, incoming freshmen, non-conference schedules, and pick a player to watch for each team.

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 Bulldog 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 BULLDOGS
Last Season: 3rd, 11-5 in A-10, 27-9 overall
Predicted Big East Finish: 7th

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 (So)/Devontae Morgan (So)/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

2013-2014 Outlook:
The Butler Bulldogs already suffered a huge blow this off-season 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 baby-faced 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 had the breakout season many were expecting after a promising freshman year.  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 Adrew 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
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 meaning he 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

OTHER 111 IN 111’S:
#59 Minnesota
#60 Florida Gulf Coast
#61 Akron
#62 Temple
#63 Alabama
#64 Florida State
#65 Arkansas
#66 N.C. State
#67 Kansas State
#68 Davidson
#69 Dayton
#70 Miami FL
#71 SMU
#72 Texas A&M
#73 Long Beach State
#74 UMass
#75 Northwestern
#76 Indiana State
#77 Georgia Tech
#78 Oklahoma
#79 Richmond
#80 Manhattan
#81 Belmont
#82 Texas
#83 Houston
#84 Washington State
#85 Iona
#86 Oregon State
#87 Louisiana Tech
#88 Towson
#89 Wake Forest
#90 Central Florida
#91 Rutgers
#92 Drexel
#93 USC
#94 Charleston
#95 Seton Hall
#96 Vanderbilt
#97 George Mason
#98 Clemson
#99 Penn State
#100 Nebraska
#101 West Virginia
#102 South Florida
#103 Mississippi State
#104 DePaul
#105 South Carolina
#106 Texas Tech
#107 TCU
#108 Virginia Tech
#109 Georgia
#110 Utah
#111 Auburn

David Kay is a senior feature NBA DraftNBA, and college basketball writer for the Sports Bank.  He also heads up the NBA and college basketball material at Walter Football.com and is a former contributor at The Washington Times Communities.  David has appeared on numerous national radio programs spanning from Cleveland to New Orleans to Honolulu to Milwaukee.  He also had the most accurate 2011 NBA Mock Draft and the most accurate 2012 NBA Mock Draft on the internet , AND the second most accurate 2013 NBA Mock Draft. (Yup, nearly 3peat champ… #humblebrag.)

You can follow him on Twitter at David_Kmiecik.

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