#18 Butler Men's Basketball 2015-2016 Preview

Butler Bulldogs

2015-2016 Overall Rank: #18
Conference Rank: #2 Big East

Butler Team Page#18 Butler Men's Basketball 2015-2016 PreviewBuy Butler Basketball Tickets

Many teams in the Big East had surprisingly good seasons in 2014-2015, but perhaps none more so than Butler. Picked by most to finish in the bottom half of the Big East and come nowhere close to sniffing the NCAA Tournament, the Bulldogs ended up winning 23 games and finishing tied for second in a pretty tough conference. The Bulldogs picked up an NCAA Tournament win over Texas in the second round before taking Notre Dame to overtime in the third round. Expect another run in the NCAA Tournament this time around.

2014-15 Record: 23-11, 12-6
2014-15 Postseason: NCAA
Coach: Chris Holtmann
Coach Record: 23-11 at Butler, 67-65 overall

Who’s Out:
Two starters do need to be replaced though. Alex Barlow ran the point for the Bulldogs and was also a superb defender. During his senior season he averaged 8.9 points, 4.0 rebounds, 2.6 assists and 2.2 steals. He was one of the few consistent three-point shooters on the team too. The other loss is the big man in the middle.  Kameron Woods was a decent interior scorer, averaging 7.8 points per game, but his work on the glass will be missed. This was a very good rebounding team last year and Woods and his 9.9 rebounds per game were a huge reason why. The only other departure is little used guard Jackson Aldridge.

Who’s In:
Coach Chris Holtmann knew he had his future point guard sitting on his bench last season. Tyler Lewis was on the sidelines redshirting while transferring in from North Carolina State. Two years ago Lewis averaged 4.4 points and 3.8 assists as a part-time starter with the Wolfpack. More impressive than his 3.8 assists per game was the fact that he set a school record with a 3.55-to-1 assist-to-turnover ratio. Against ACC opponents that year he dished out 70 assists with just 15 turnovers. Lewis is ready to run this offense and he will do it the Butler way by taking care of the basketball. Jordan Gathers is a graduate transfer from St. Bonaventure and will add weapons to the perimeter. He missed last season with an injury, but averaged 8.2 points per game back in 2013-2014. He should at least add a shooting threat off of the bench. Incoming freshman Sean McDermott will have some time to develop, but could see a few minutes off of the bench. The pressure to replace Woods will largely fall on the shoulders of Nate Fowler. At 6-10 and 250 pounds, the freshman has the size to be a force in the paint, but obviously lacks the experience at this level.

Who to Watch:
Despite the losses of Barlow and Woods and the important roles they played for Butler a season ago, the Bulldogs do return their top three scorers. Kellen Dunham is one of the best shooters and pure scorers in the country. He averaged 16.5 points per game as a junior and connected on 41.0 percent of his 188 three-point shots. At 6-6 though, Dunham can do plenty of damage attacking the basket as well. Roosevelt Jones was a big reason why Butler turned things around last year. He missed the previous season with an injury and Butler seemed lost without him. The 6-4 forward is small, but he can do almost everything. Last season he averaged 12.7 points, 5.2 rebounds and a team high 3.7 assists. His versatility is amazing, but this year when Butler will likely play smaller, his rebounding will be much more important. Andrew Chrabascz will be asked to do more work on the glass too. He started beside Woods last year, but could spend a lot more time at the five spot this season after averaging 11.2 points and 3.6 rebounds in 2014-2015.

Final Projection:
The key for Butler will be finding depth. Lewis, Dunham, Jones and Chrabascz are proven starters and others will need to step up and fill that last starting spot and provide all of the depth. But there are options. Kelan Martin showed plenty of scoring potential as a freshman and former Hoosier Austin Etherington will need to provide some much needed depth in the frontcourt. Tyler Wideman is an option to start at the five spot after averaging 2.3 points and 2.6 rebounds as a freshman. Wideman could be an interesting option if he can keep up his intensity. It could be a problem if Butler needs to rely on Fowler to be the only true post player on the team.

Projected Postseason Tournament: NCAA

Projected Starting Five:
Tyler Lewis, Junior, Guard, DNP last season
Kellen Dunham, Senior, Guard, 16.5 points per game
Roosevelt Jones, Senior, Forward, 12.7 points per game
Austin Etherington, Senior, Forward, 2.3 points per game
Andrew Chrabascz, Junior, Forward, 11.2 points per game

By the Numbers:
Scoring Offense: 69.0 (131st in nation, 7th in conference)
Scoring Defense: 61.0 (43, 2)
Field-Goal Percentage: 43.3 (186, 8)
Field-Goal Defense: 41.5 (99, 4)
Three-Point Field Goals Per Game: 5.6 (236, 9)
Three-Point Field-Goal Percentage: 35.6 (118, 2)
Free-Throw Percentage: 68.6 (198, 8)
Rebound Margin: 5.6 (26, 1)
Assists Per Game: 11.4 (260, 10)
Turnovers Per Game: 11.1 (46, 3)


See All Top 144 Basketball Previews