Butler enters new basketball season with new leaders

(Photo by Michael Hickey/Getty Images)

(Photo by Michael Hickey/Getty Images)

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. – There will be some new voices speaking up in the Butler locker room this season since last year’s team leaders Kellen Dunham and Roosevelt Jones have graduated.

“Those guys were institutions around here,” third-year head coach Chris Holtmann told Indy Sports Central.  “They really helped transition us through different conferences and also the transition of coaches.  They were a stabilizing factor.”

Holtmann will now turn to Andrew Chrabascz, Kelan Martin and Tyler Wideman to lead.  All were key contributors on a Bulldogs team that advanced to the second round of the NCAA Tournament for the second straight year last season.  Holtmann is anxious to see how the trio embraces the new roles.

“Seeing how our guys that played in NCAA Tournaments played in that first game of the tournament, they just had a different way about them,”  Holtmann said.  “That experience is valuable, but it certainly doesn’t win you any games in November and December.”

Besides the challenge of replacing Dunham and Jones, Holtmann will also tackle the task of playing in one of the toughest basketball conferences in the country– the Big East.  The ten team league features defending national champion, Villanova.

“I think honestly it’s always going to be one of the top two to four leagues in the country,” said Holtmann.  “That says something.  You’re talking about high-level programs and institutions, so we have our work cut out for us.”

Big East coaches picked Butler to finish sixth in its annual preseason poll, but some prognosticators have the Bulldogs even lower.

“One of our assistant coaches has it on his board, a couple people that projected us to finish tenth,”  Holtmann said.  “A couple others seventh and eighth and one ninth.  He has a whole wall of the naysayers, so we’re well aware of that.”

Butler tips off the season November 12 at Hinkle Fieldhouse against Northern Colorado.