Men’s basketball: Fans have plenty to look forward to

The Butler men’s basketball team chalked up its second win of the exhibition season this past Saturday against the University of Indianapolis. The Bulldogs now start the regular season with their home opener against Elon on Saturday, Nov. 10.

The Greyhounds of Indianapolis provided Butler with another good test, one which it did not look like the Bulldogs would pass in the first half.

While playing sound defense throughout the game, the Butler offense struggled in the first half. Junior forward Khyle Marshall was the lone bright spot, scoring all 14 of his points in the first half. Butler has to be encouraged by the way Marshall has played thus far. He gives an added element of athleticism in the paint that no other player can provide.

Senior center Andrew Smith continued his early struggles. He ended the first half with a mere three points. Smith has been plagued by the same problems that he endured last season, his lack of physicality around the rim.

After a lackluster first half, senior point guard Rotnei Clarke came out strong in the second half and finished with 18 points. While still not shooting well from behind the arc, Clarke had success driving the lane and converting or getting fouled. He made all eight of his free throws. As Clarke becomes more comfortable with this system and his new role as point guard, his shooting will return. There is a reason many around the country consider him one of the most dynamic shooters in the NCAA.

Freshman Kellen Dunham is well on his way to living up to the lofty expectations placed on his shoulders. Dunham looked like the consummate Butler basketball player in Saturday’s game. He is fundamentally sound and shows great hustle and a high motor. He is a fantastic free throw shooter and dangerous if left open anywhere on the court. Dunham appears poised to break through early on this season.

Sophomore Kameron Woods played another strong game, recording nine rebounds, tied for the team lead with Marshall. Woods also blocked three shots. Woods is one of the most intimidating defensive presences Butler has, but he has shown skill around the rim offensively early on. While only finishing with two points, Woods pulled down four offensive rebounds.

Indianapolis is a much better team than the Marian team that Butler played in the first exhibition. Stevens said he thought Butler responded well to the challenges they presented, challenges that Atlantic 10 teams like Massachusetts and Virginia Commonwealth will also present.

Butler fans have plenty to look forward to with the regular season beginning on Saturday. Stevens will continue to experiment with different combinations, but there should be some sense of urgency to establish a regular rotation. Butler plays Marquette in the opening round of the Maui Invitational in less than two weeks.

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