Bulldogs down under

The Butler men's basketball team huddles around new coach Brandon Miller in its final game in Australia

The Butler men’s basketball team huddles around new coach Brandon Miller in its final game in Australia

BY MATTHEW VANTRYON | STAFF SPORTS REPORTER

The Butler men’s basketball team took a nine-day trip to Australia earlier this month.

The Bulldogs left the continent with two wins.

The team kicked off the trip with a 77-65 win in the opening contest against the Norths Bears Invitational Team in Sydney.

Sophomore guard Kellen Dunham led the team in scoring with 22 points.

Despite success on the court, the team did suffer a different sort of loss.

Last year’s leading returning scorer, junior forward Roosevelt Jones, was injured in the game. He will be out for the season.

Jones averaged 10.1 points per game last season.

He led the team with 3.5 assists per game and was second in rebounding, averaging 5.6 rebounds per game.

Coach Brandon Miller said the loss is tough to swallow.

“Rose is so unique,” Miller said. “He has a game like nobody else. We have to come together as a team and move forward, in terms of our team coming together instead of one single player replacing him.”

Junior guard Alex Barlow said that Jones will not be absent from the team’s success.

“He’s going to have a role, even if it’s off the court,” Barlow said.

Despite the injury, it is clear that the team is focused on moving forward.

“This program is known for overcoming adversity,” Barlow said.

The team grew closer, both on and off the court during the trip, Miller said. The team visited the Sydney Zoo and the Great Barrier Reef.

It was a special trip for junior guard Jackson Aldridge, a Sydney native. Aldridge helped the team get accustomed to Aussie life, teaching the team cricket just minutes after arriving.

Freshman guard Michael Volovic said the team greatly benefited from the time together.

“No other team gets that opportunity,” Volovic said.

This year’s roster includes six freshmen. Barlow said the trip allowed the upperclassmen to mentor  younger players.

“The most impactful moment (of the trip) was the bonding we did outside of basketball,” Barlow said.

Miller said the Butler environment encourages older players to take ownership of the program, and Volovic said he saw the effects.

“It was really important,” Volovic said. “It taught us the Butler Way.”

The team won its second game of the tour behind a late rally, defeating the Sydney Kings 82-76.

Junior forward Kameron Woods hit a go-ahead shot with 1:48 remaining in the final quarter to give the Bulldogs a two point lead.

The team managed to hold on in the remaining moments to capture their second consecutive victory.

Senior forward Erik Fromm led the team with 18 points.

The team suffered a 96-57 loss at the hands of the Australian National Team in Canberra, the nation’s capital, two days later.

The Australian Boomers featured NBA player Patty Mills of the San Antonio Spurs and former Valparaiso standout Ryan Broekhoff.

The Boomers were ranked the tenth-best team in the world after the 2012 London Olympics.

The Bulldogs fell behind early while the Boomers shot 53 percent from the field.

Despite the loss, Barlow came away with several positives from the contest.

“We didn’t roll over,” Barlow said.

The team suffered a second consecutive defeat a day later, as they fell 97-73 to the Cairns Taipans in their final contest of the tour.

Dunham scored a team-high 16 points.

Expectations are still high as the Bulldogs gear up for the regular season.

“The expectations are the same as they are every year,” Barlow said. “Once you get into the NCAA tournament, anything can happen. If we play well we can play with anyone.”

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