INDIANAPOLIS — Butler basketball has seen their national rankings ahead of this college basketball season, and frankly, they do not care.
The only thing that matters to this group is getting better, playing hard, and re-establishing Butler basketball’s identity as a powerhouse.
“We have a good chance to bring Butler basketball to what it once was – tough, gritty, and winning,” said graduate transfer Eric Hunter Jr.
The confidence among the program comes from the heart and soul of the team, head coach Thad Matta. Matta’s return to coaching was to do precisely what Hunter was talking about, restore the Bulldogs’ former glory.
Matta’s energy is infectious. Hunter shared that his new head coach’s main motivation is to instill confidence in the group at large. Manny Bates, a graduate transfer from NC State, shared that Matta will do anything to make his team smile.
“If my team is down five points in practice, he’ll come over and tell us a joke to get us back to playing our version of basketball,” said Bates.
The first-year head coach is in his second stint with the Bulldogs, and knows what it takes to succeed in Hinkle Fieldhouse, even if Butler is now in the Big East.
“I want them to come in and play strong and tough,” said Matta. “I know we have a long way to go, I’m not a fool to that, but I like where we’re at today.”
The rest of the coaching staff has provided incredible energy, including 2006 Indiana Mr. Basketball Greg Oden, who Matta coached at Ohio State. Oden has been a great resource for the entire roster, not just the big men.
“He’s an Indiana basketball legend,” said Hunter. “I still can’t believe it. I try to pick his brain as much as I can.”
Oden, Matta, and the rest of the coaching staff know it will be a long road, but they are confident in the direction Butler basketball is heading.
The Bulldogs host New Orleans to open their season at Hinkle Fieldhouse on November 7.