2016-2017 Overall Rank: #35
Conference Rank: #5 Big East
Butler had another solid season, winning 22 games and reaching the NCAA Tournament. The Bulldogs knocked off Texas Tech in the first round of the NCAA Tournament before falling to Virginia 77-69. With three starters back and a couple of key transfers, Coach Chris Holtmann has enough talent to get back to the NCAAs. However, Butler will need Tyler Lewis to emerge as a leader in the backcourt. Lewis started 16 games last season and averaged 5.9 points and 2.8 assists. Lewis was playing very well before suffering a concussion. That caused him to miss four games, but he played fewer minutes upon his return. Back at full strength, Lewis should be ready to turn into a floor leader who can at least setup his teammates. The former McDonald’s All-American can score too though if he needs to do so.
2015-16 Record: 22-11, 10-8
2015-16 Postseason: NCAA
Coach: Chris Holtmann
Coach Record: 45-22 at Butler, 89-76 overall
Lewis may need to do more scoring since Kellen Dunham and Roosevelt Jones are gone. Dunham was the most dynamic scorer on the team last season, averaging 16.2 points and knocking down 42.9 percent of his 203 attempts from beyond the arc. Losing Dunham is huge, but losing Jones might be bigger. Butler had to play without Jones back in the 2013-2014 campaign when he was injured and that season did not go well. As a senior, Jones averaged 13.8 points, 6.6 rebounds, 4.7 assists and 1.5 steals. He wrapped up his collegiate career ranking first in program history in career starts, 11th in career points, fourth in career assists, fifth in career rebounds and eighth in career steals. That is an impressive resume. Jordan Gathers and Austin Etherington are also gone after playing an important role off of the bench. Both were decent shooters who could provide some offense. Little used Jackson Davis is also gone.
Transfers Kethan Savage and Avery Woodson will help replace Dunham and Jones. Savage comes from George Washington where he averaged 11.7 points, 4.8 rebounds and 2.3 assists for the Colonials back in 2014-2015. Savage is not a prolific outside shooter, but he can knock some down shots and score even more by attacking the basket. Woodson is the more prolific shooter. At Memphis last year the graduate transfer connected on 77 three-pointers, which was the fifth most in a single season in school history. Starting or not, Woodson should emerge as the team’s top three-point shooter. Incoming freshman Kamar Baldwin figures to work his way into the regular rotation as well. He is a superb athlete who can do a lot of rebounding for a guard. Wings Henry Baddley and Sean McDermott will add depth. McDermott, who redshirted last season, is a very good shooter. The lone newcomer in the frontcourt is Joey Brunk. The 6-11, 240 pounder is the tallest player on the roster and he will always play tough and hard in the paint.
Who to Watch:
The focus for Butler will move to the frontcourt where Kelan Martin, Andrew Chrabascz and Tyler Wideman return to their starting roles. Martin is the team’s top returning scorer and rebounder with 15.7 and 6.8, respectively. The 6-7 forward did slip down the stretch last season, but he is a good shooter who can use his size to attack the basket. Chrabascz can shoot a little too and do just about everything else. He is a big guy who can handle the ball and that makes him very difficult to defend. Wideman is the more traditional big man who stays in the paint. Wideman may not put up big numbers, but he is an effective and efficient player.
With a talented frontcourt and the transfers coming into the backcourt, this should be a very good team. The Bulldogs may need a little time to adjust to life without Dunham and Jones, but by the time Big East play rolls around, this should be a team that can compete with anybody in the conference and do enough to reach the NCAA Tournament.
Projected Postseason Tournament: NCAA
Projected Starting Five:
Tyler Lewis, Senior, Guard, 5.9 points per game
Avery Woodson, Senior, Guard, 7.9 points per game (at Memphis)
Kelan Martin, Junior, Forward, 15.7 points per game
Andrew Chrabascz, Senior, Forward, 10.7 points per game
Tyler Wideman, Junior, Forward, 7.8 points per game
By the Numbers:
Scoring Offense: 79.9 (24th in nation, 2nd in conference)
Scoring Defense: 71.0 (152, 5)
Field-Goal Percentage: 46.6 (47, 4)
Field-Goal Defense: 43.5 (179, 7)
Three-Point Field Goals Per Game: 7.2 (156, 5)
Three-Point Field-Goal Percentage: 39.3 (14, 1)
Free-Throw Percentage: 73.1 (51, 3)
Rebound Margin: 3.1 (70, 3)
Assists Per Game: 14.2 (113, 7)
Turnovers Per Game: 10.2 (12, 1)
Madness 2016 Men’s Basketball Recruit Rankings:
#133 Kamar Baldwin
#137 Joey Brunk