Bulldogs Host Florida Southern In Exhibition Opener

STARTING GATE:  Nearly seven months after the NCAA Division I national championship game, Butler will return to the basketball court to begin the 2010-11 season.  The Bulldogs’ first test will come in an exhibition game against Florida Southern on Saturday, Oct. 30.  The contest at Hinkle Fieldhouse will start at 2 p.m. (ET).  Three starters return from Butler’s 2009-10 squad, which posted a school-record 33-5 mark, won Horizon League regular season and tournament championships, captured a West Regional title in the NCAA Men’s Basketball Championship and advanced to the national title game against eventual national champ Duke.  The Bulldogs were the only unbeaten (18-0) conference champ in the NCAA Division I, and Butler had the nation’s longest winning streak with 25 consecutive victories prior to the 61-59 loss to Duke.  Gone from that successful squad are senior forward Willie Veasley, now playing professional basketball in Japan, and leading scorer and rebounder Gordon Hayward, the No. 9 draft pick of the NBA’s Utah Jazz.  But head coach Brad Stevens can call on returning regulars Matt Howard, Shelvin Mack and Ronald Nored.  Howard, a first team All-Horizon League performer in each of the past two seasons, was the team’s second-leading rebounder (5.2) and third-leading scorer (11.6), while Mack, also a first team All-League pick, finished second on the team in scoring (14.1).  Nored, named Horizon League Co-Defensive Player of the Year, led the Bulldogs in assists (3.6) and steals (1.8).  Eight other letterwinners return, and they’re joined by three newcomers, 6-7 Khyle Marshall, 6-9 Erik Fromm and 6-1 Chrishawn Hopkins, all freshmen.  The game against Florida Southern will be the first of two exhibition contests for the Bulldogs.  Butler will host Indiana foe Hanover in the second exhibition game on Thursday, Nov. 4, at 7 p.m.                          

Matt Howard was the 2008-09 Horizon League Player of the Year.

EARLY RECOGNITION:  Butler, ranked No. 2 in the final ESPN/USA Today national poll a year ago, will open the 2010-11 season as the No. 17 ranked team in the Associated Press (A.P.) preseason poll and with a No. 18 ranking in the ESPN/USA Today preseason poll.  The Bulldogs have been ranked in the “Top 25” nationally in each of the past four seasons.  Florida Southern is ranked fifth in the Division II Bulletin Preseason Poll.

Butler will begin the season as a “Top 25” team for the second consecutive year and for the second time in school history.

PRESEASON PICK:  Butler was tabbed as the unanimous favorite in the preseason poll of Horizon League coaches, media and sports information directors.  The Bulldogs captured all 48 first place votes in the poll and finished well ahead of second place pick Detroit.  It’s the second straight year and the third time in four years that Butler has been the league’s preseason pick.  Butler junior Shelvin Mack was selected as the Horizon League Preseason Player of the Year, and he was joined on the All-League First Team by senior teammate Matt Howard, the league’s Preseason Player of the Year in 2009-10.

SUMMER PREP:  Butler’s Shelvin Mack had a busy summer of basketball, and his play took him all across the country.  The 6-3 guard was named to the USA Basketball Select Team, chosen to train against the U.S. National Team in Las Vegas in mid-July.  His performance there earned him a spot on a second, 10-member Select Team that trained with the national team in New York in early August.  In addition to his work with USA Basketball, Mack also attended the LeBron James Camp in Akron, Ohio, and the Darrin Williams Camp in Chicago, Ill.  When he was in Indianapolis, the Butler junior competed in a local summer league with college and professional players.

Shelvin Mack earned a gold medal with the USA Basketball U19 World Championship Team in the summer of 2009.

BULLDOG BITS:  

•Shelvin Mack was named Third Team Preseason All-American by Dick Vitale.

•Gary Parrish of CBS Sports.com listed Shelvin Mack No. 4 on his list of the top point guards and combo guards in the NCAA Division I this season.

•Juniors Ronald Nored and Garrett Butcher both will test surgically repaired legs in Butler’s exhibition game against Florida Southern.  Nored (shins) and Butcher (knees) both had off-season surgery.

•The Bulldogs boast six players with at least 60 career games played, led by senior Matt Howard with 104 games in three seasons.  Senior Zach Hahn has played in 102 games, senior Shawn Vanzant has 100, juniors Shelvin Mack and Ronald Nored each have played in 70 and junior Garrett Butcher has played in 64.