By Ari Kasle – Staff Reporter
Butler basketball fans got a sneak preview of their team on Friday night. The new-look Bulldogs took the court as part of Fox Sports 1’s Big East Tip-Off.
As part of the program, each of the ten Big East schools held simultaneous scrimmage games, which were televised on the Fox Sports 1 network.
At least a part of each team’s scrimmage and festivities received a 15-minute time slot during the tip off show for the new conference.
Both the coaches and the athletic department were pleased with the fan attendance, which was estimated at 3,000 spectators.
First-year head coach Brandon Miller said it was a great atmosphere.
“The Dawg Pound was terrific and our fans were great throughout the game,” Miller said. “We can try and simulate an in-game atmosphere in practice, but playing in front of an actual crowd is always different. There was a little extra pep in their step tonight.”
Senior Erik Fromm also said it was a good atmosphere, as they got back inside Hinkle Fieldhouse.
“It was nice having an environment with fan interaction and feedback,” Fromm said. “It was definitely successful in making us anxious to start the season.”
This was the general public’s first chance to see the six new freshmen in action, and the newest Bulldogs did not disappoint.
Elijah Brown, a 6’3” freshman from California, stole the show, starting the scrimmage game on fire, scoring seven out of the team’s first ten points. He finished with a game-high 19 points.
“He came out with a ton of energy,” Miller said. “He was obviously ready to play.”
The three other freshmen on scholarship, Nolan Berry, Rene Castro and Andrew Chrabascz, had strong games as well, scoring 15, 11 and nine points, respectively.
Coach Miller said he was not surprised with strong performances by all of the freshmen.
“Our freshmen, throughout practice, have all played well,” Miller said. “They’ve shown why they are here at Butler, and they’ve shown their strengths.”
The freshmen were not the only ones making their debuts in front of a crowded Hinkle Fieldhouse. It was also Miller’s first time in front of Butler fans, following Brad Stevens’ departure for the NBA’s Boston Celtics after six seasons with the Bulldogs.
“I don’t know if you can really count that as a first game,” Miller joked after the scrimmage. “But it was neat to be out there.”