OPENING DAY: There won't be any "madness," just a concentrated effort and hard work when Butler tips off the 2012-13 basketball season with its first practice on Friday, Oct. 12. The Bulldogs will hold one practice on Friday evening, two practices on Saturday and one on Sunday to jump-start the season. All practices will be closed. Butler, coming off a 22-15 campaign, will be looking to blend several promising newcomers with a strong returning cast as it prepares for its first season in the Atlantic 10 Conference. The Bulldogs will have a pair of exhibition games against Marian (Oct. 27) and Indianapolis (Nov. 3) before opening the regular season at home against Elon on Nov. 10. Butler will face at least 16 teams that advanced to postseason play in 2011-12, including home opponents Gonzaga, Xavier, Saint Louis, St. Bonaventure, Temple, Penn and Evansville.
FAMILIAR FACES: Butler head coach Brad Stevens has 11 of the 14 players from last year's squad back this season, and that group includes three returning starters. Leading the group is 6-11 senior center Andrew Smith, who led the Bulldogs in scoring and finished second in rebounding a year ago. Smith, who started 36 of Butler's 37 games last season, is the last active Bulldog who saw action in the Final Four in both 2010 and 2011. Stevens also can look to returning regulars Khyle Marshall and Roosevelt Jones. Marshall was Butler's second-leading scorer a year ago, while Jones led the squad in rebounding. Four other players, senior Chase Stigall, junior Erik Fromm and sophomores Kameron Woods and Jackson Aldridge each played in 35 or more games last season. Stigall, who started 18 games, led the Bulldogs with 50 three-point field goals, while Woods topped the team in blocked shots (39). Butler earned a bid to the postseason College Basketball Invitational (CBI) and advanced to the semifinals of the tournament. before losing in overtime to eventual tournament champ Pittsburgh.
Butler won nine of its final 12 games in 2011-12.
ADDING UP: Four players will be suiting up for Butler for the first time in 2012-13, though one has already spent a season with the Bulldogs. Senior Rotnei Clarke, who transferred to Butler from Arkansas and sat out last season, brings both experience and talent to the Bulldogs' lineup. The 6-0 guard is the all-time leading scorer in Oklahoma high school history, and he led the Razorbacks in scoring (15.2) while earning second team All-SEC honors in 2010-11. He's already scored 1,306 collegiate points. Also joining the Bulldogs are a trio of freshmen, 6-6 Kellen Dunham, 6-3 Devontae Morgan and 5-11 Chris Harrison-Docks. Dunham led the state of Indiana in scoring with a 29.5 average last year, while Morgan was Florida's 3A Player of the Year. Harrison-Docks averaged 23 points and seven rebounds, while earning All-State honors in Michigan last year.
NEW LEAGUE: Butler ended a 33-year affiliation with the Horizon League and joined the Atlantic 10 Conference during the summer of 2012. The 16-team A-10 is the new home for all Butler sports except football (Pioneer Football League) and women's golf (Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference).
PRESEASON PICK: The Bulldogs were picked to finish sixth in the Atlantic 10 Conference this season in the preseason poll of league coaches and media. Saint Joseph's was tabbed as the preseason favorite, narrowly edging out Saint Louis in the poll. Newcomer VCU came in third, followed by Temple and Massachusetts.
EXTENDED PLAY: Last year, the Bulldogs advanced to postseason tournament play for the 21st time in school history and for the 14th time since 1997. In the past 16 seasons, Butler earned bids to the NCAA Division I Men's Basketball Championship (1997, 1998, 2000, 2001, 2003, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010 and 2011), the National Invitational Tournament (1999, 2002 and 2006) and the College Basketball Invitational (2012). Butler is 22-14 in postseason tournament play since 1997, and 29-20 all-time.
TWENTY PLUS: The Bulldogs posted 20 wins for the seventh consecutive season and for the 14th time in the past 16 campaigns a year ago. The seven straight 20-win campaigns matched the school (and conference) record for most consecutive 20-win seasons, originally set by Butler from 1996 to 2003.
Butler has averaged 24 victories over the past 16 seasons.
BULLDOG SPRING: The month of March seems to bring out the best in Butler basketball. Over the past three seasons, the Bulldogs are 15-2 in March, the month of postseason basketball tournaments. Butler's 12 postseason tournament wins over the past three campaigns (10 NCAA Tournament, 2 CBI) ranks second nationally among all NCAA Division I teams. Only reigning national champion Kentucky (13) has more postseason tournament wins since 2010.
Postseason Tournament Wins, 2010-2012
North Carolina (10)
Ohio State (8)
(Five tied with seven wins)
HOME WORK: The Bulldogs stretched their streak of consecutive years with at least 10 homecourt wins to 17 in a row with their victory over Indiana State in 2012 Sears BracketBuster X. Butler added three more home wins and finished the season with a 13-6 record in Hinkle Fieldhouse. Since Brad Stevens became head coach, the Bulldogs are 69-11 at home.
Butler is 165-25 at Hinkle Fieldhouse since the start of the 1999-2000 season.
TEAM DEFENSE: Butler turned up its defensive intensity during the Horizon League Men's Basketball Championship and the College Basketball Invitational last year. In six tournament games (3 HL, 3 CBI), the Bulldogs held their opponents to an average of 57.5 points and kept all six foes under 70 points. Butler wound up leading the Horizon League in field goal percentage defense (.411) in 2011-12, while finishing second in the league in three-point field goal percentage defense (.307). The Bulldogs, who held 10 of their final 14 opponents under 60 points, finished second in the league in scoring defense (60.7).
Butler finished 29th in the NCAA Division I in team scoring defense in 2011-12.
BOARD REVIEW: Butler only had one player ranked among the "Top 10" rebounders in the Horizon League last season, but the Bulldogs were No. 1 in the league in rebounding as a team. Roosevelt Jones, in just his first season, led the Bulldogs and ranked eighth in the Horizon League in rebounding with an average of 6.0 rebounds per game. The 6-4 forward finished third in the league in offensive rebounds (2.6). The Bulldogs topped the league in rebounding margin (+4.0) and in offensive rebounds (12.6). Butler out-rebounded 22 opponents on the season, including 10 of the final 14.
WINNING WAYS: Butler shared the highest win total in the Horizon League in 2011-12. The Bulldogs' 22 wins tied the 12th-highest single season total in Butler basketball history.
QUICK START: Butler head coach Brad Stevens finished 2011-12 in first place on the NCAA Division I list for Best Career Coaching Starts By Wins, 5 Seasons. The Bulldogs' coach, who boasts a 139 career wins, moved ahead of Everett Case of North Carolina State (1947-51) to take over the No. 1 spot. Stevens also holds the NCAA three-year (89) and four-year (117) records, and he's second on the two-year (56) list.
•The Bulldogs advanced to postseason tournament play for the school-record seventh consecutive year. Butler also appeared in postseason tournaments for seven straight years from 1997 to 2003.
•Butler played 19 regular season games in 2011-12 against teams that advanced to postseason play. Among the Bulldogs' regular season opponents were Final Four team Louisville and NIT champ Stanford. Nine of Butler's wins last season came against teams that advanced to postseason tournament play.
•Center Andrew Smith will enter 2012-13 in sixth place on Butler's all-time list for field goal shooting. Smith has shot .546 from the field in his first three seasons with the Bulldogs.
•Andrew Smith had Butler's top single game scoring output in 2011-12 with 25 points against Wright State in the league tournament.
•Andrew Smith shot .593 from the field, .464 from beyond the three-point arc and averaged 12.5 points in Butler's 22 wins.
•Forward Khyle Marshall led the Bulldogs and ranked third in the Horizon League in field goal shooting (.553). He'll enter next season in a tie for 11th place on Butler's all-time list for FG% (.536).
•Khyle Marshall averaged 11.5 points in 11 games after returning from a concussion that sidelined him for two games in early February of last season.
•Forward Roosevelt Jones set a Butler freshman record with four double-doubles in 2011-12, one better than teammate Kameron Woods, Matt Howard (2007-08) and current NBA player Gordon Hayward (2008-09). Jones had three double-doubles in Butler's final 13 games.
•Roosevelt Jones led the Bulldogs with six games of 10 or more rebounds. Teammate Khyle Marshall hit double-figures in rebounds four times, while Andrew Smith and Kameron Woods each hit the mark three times.
•Roosevelt Jones was named to the Horizon League All-Newcomer Team in 2011-12.
•Head coach Brad Stevens, who completed fifth season at the Bulldogs' helm, moved into fourth place on Butler's all-time list for coaching victories. The young Butler coach finished the season with a 139-40 career record, four wins shy of Joe Sexson, 1977-89, in third place.
•The top seven single season win totals in Butler basketball history have been recorded since Brad Stevens joined the Bulldogs' coaching staff. He's guided the Bulldogs to the No. 1 (33 in 2009-10), No. 2 (30 in 2007-08), No. 4 (28 in 2010-11) and No. 6-T (26 in 2008-09) win totals as Butler's head coach, and he served as an assistant coach on teams that posted the No. 3 (29 in 2006-07), No. 5 (27 in 2002-03) and No. 6-T (26 in 2001-02) totals.
•Brad Stevens recorded his fifth straight 20-win season with the Bulldogs, matching former coach (and current Athletic Director) Barry Collier for the most 20-win campaigns by a Butler coach. Todd Lickliter, Stevens' former boss, led Butler to four 20-win seasons, Harlan O. "Pat" Page had two, and Paul D. "Tony" Hinkle and Thad Matta each led Butler to one 20-win season.
•Brad Stevens has led the Bulldogs to postseason play in each of his five seasons as head coach. He also participated in postseason action while serving as Butler's Director of Basketball Operations in 2001 and as an assistant coach with the Bulldogs in 2003, 2006 and 2007. Butler is 13-5 in postseason play under Stevens as a head coach and 20-10 with Stevens as a member of the Bulldogs' staff.
•Butler is 19-5 in March under head coach Brad Stevens.