The Butler Bulldogs will begin their debut season in the Big East this Saturday morning when the team officially practices for the very first time at 8:00 a.m. For the Bulldogs however, this will actually be the eleventh practice as a squad, thanks to a team trip to Australia that allowed for ten practices and four exhibition games. From the growth as a team in terms of bonding all the way to the extra time new Head Coach Brandon Miller was able to evaluate his players, the trip overall was a success.
Well, except for one major downside.
Junior Roosevelt Jones, the team’s top returning scorer (10.1 points), rebounder (5.6), and leader in assists (3.5), took a hard fall on his left wrist just four minutes into the very first exhibition back on August 6th. Jones injured his wrist while awkwardly falling hard after taking a shot, and tore ligaments while trying to brace himself with his wrist for the fall. The injury required season-ending surgery.
So on Saturday, when the squad officially practices for the first time during the season, the squad will undoubtedly be missing a key piece to their puzzle.
“You don’t replace a Roosevelt Jones with one guy,” said Head Coach Brandon Miller. “He is unique, not only to our team but to college basketball in the way he plays. But, it does give opportunity to others. Our team has to come together and replace him with their own individual strengths. Rose’s strengths aren’t some of the strengths of the guys who are going to get the minutes that Rose would have played. You adjust, and those guys will come to practice every day and we will see how it all fits together.”
Miller noted that Jones has been coming to the group workouts, helping out here and there with various things he sees on the court. But even with Jones the sidelines, it seems like you can expect Butler to continue playing their brand of basketball, especially in terms of the defensive end where they are tough, physical, and intelligent.
“When you miss an All-Conference defensive player, of course it’s going to be a different set,” said Senior Khyle Marshall. “But we still have the same mindset, a twenty-one defense, and we are still going to do the same things that we always do. It is sad that we lose our best defender on the floor, but we still have a system that we are going to live and go by. That is not going to change how we defend.”
Marshall noted that all the players on the squad, including six new freshmen, realize how much they have to step up without the guard that hit the game-winning shot against Gonzaga in a 64-63 victory. That process, which officially begins on Saturday, has started a long time ago.
“We look at Saturday as an exciting time because you are able to practice and it’s the first time that college basketball has been able to practice,” said Miller.
“It’s the first day, but at the same time you realize it is day one. You have a lot of other practices that you need to string together. So we are trying to get better then we were during this group workout today, on our first day of practice, and continue to get better so we play our best basketball at the end of the year.”