August 3, 2009

Bulldogs Travel To Italy For Summer Basketball Tour

Butler head coach Brad Stevens will get an early preview of his 2009-10 basketball squad when he takes the team to Italy for a 10-day summer basketball tour.  The Bulldogs, who will depart Indianapolis on August 4, will visit four cities and play four games on the foreign trip.

“We’re extremely thankful for this opportunity,” said Stevens, who’s guided Butler to a 56-10 record in two seasons as head coach.  “We’re looking forward to the chance to be together, to grow as a team and to experience Italy.”

The Bulldogs will travel from Indianapolis to Milan, where they will play the Swiss national team on the evening of August 6 and on the afternoon of August 7.  Following the second game, the team will have two days of sight-seeing in Venice (Aug. 8) and Florence (Aug. 9), before concluding the trip with four days in Rome (Aug. 10-13).  While in Rome, the Bulldogs will have games against a local Italian team on Monday (Aug. 10) and Tuesday (Aug. 11).

Stevens has all 14 players back from last year’s 26-6 club, which won the Horizon League regular season championship and advanced to the NCAA Tournament.  That group includes 2009 Horizon League Player of the Year Matt Howard (6-8, Jr.) and 2009 Horizon League Newcomer of the Year Gordon Hayward (6-8, So.), plus starters Willie Veasley (6-3, Sr.), Shelvin Mack (6-3, So.) and Ronald Nored (6-0, So.).  Howard led the Bulldogs in scoring (14.8) and rebounding (6.8) in 2008-09, while Hayward was the team’s second-leading scorer (13.1) and rebounder (6.5).

Also heading to Italy are Alex Anglin (6-4, Jr.), Garrett Butcher (6-7, So.), Zach Hahn (6-1, Jr.), Emerson Kampen (6-9, R-Fr.), Avery Jukes (6-8, Sr.), Grant Leiendecker (6-4, Jr.), Nick Rodgers (6-2, Sr.), Chase Stigall (6-3, R-Fr.) and Shawn Vanzant (6-1, Jr.).  Stigall and Kampen, both of whom sat out last season as “redshirts,” will be playing for the Bulldogs for the first time. 

The lone player on Butler’s 2009-10 roster not making the trip is 6-10 freshman Andrew Smith, who can’t begin practicing with the Bulldogs until school starts.

Hayward and Mack will be making their second overseas basketball trip this summer, following a Gold Medal-winning performance as members of the U. S. national team at the 2009 U19 World Championship in New Zealand in July.  Jukes, who spent 11 days in Uganda with Ambassadors for Children during the summer of 2008, will be heading overseas for the second consecutive year. 

The foreign trip is Butler’s first since 2004, when the Bulldogs visited the Bahamas for a pair of October games.  Butler also has taken trips to Finland (2000), Europe (1996) and Australia (1992).