BY AUSTIN MONTEITH | SPORTS EDITOR
Butler coaches are gearing up for their teams’ debuts in the Big East this season.
The level of competition will be higher across the board in the Big East compared to Butler’s former conference, the Atlantic 10.
“Night in, night out, there’s not a game that you can take off,” men’s basketball coach Brandon Miller said. “That challenge in itself is something that competitors look forward to.”
It will not be any different in men’s soccer, with Big East foe Georgetown being last year’s national runner-up.
“There are never going to be any easy teams,” said men’s soccer coach Paul Snape. “But you’ve got to make sure you’ve prepared your team, and you want to play against the best in the country,”
“In the Big East, there are some of the best teams in Division I soccer. From my point of view, it’s fantastic to judge ourselves to see where we are,” Snape said.
The defending A-10 champion women’s cross country team will face some of the toughest opposition in the nation, with Big East schools having won three of the last four national championships. Villanova won back-to-back titles in 2009 and 2010, Georgetown claimed the title in 2011, and Providence finished as national runner-up last year.
“Those three teams are obviously going to be really, really tough,” cross country coach Matt Roe said. “We could be a top-20 program and be fourth in the league.”
This is the second consecutive season Butler programs will be making the transition into a new conference.
Miller said he thinks the experience of jumping conferences last year will make the switch go more smoothly for his players this season.
“For Butler to do that from the Horizon League to the A-10 and have that experience of having that transition already, I like the fact that our guys have already been through that one time,” Miller said. “They’ve made the transition and changed conferences once already. They’re going to have a feeling of going into environments and playing against different opponents.”
Snape has the unusual distinction of coaching in four different conferences in four seasons after serving on Michigan’s coaching staff before being named Butler’s head coach in January 2011.
“For me as a coach, I’ve been in four conferences in the last four years—Big Ten, Horizon, A-10 and Big East,” Snape said. “The game of soccer, it doesn’t change. There’s still 11 guys on the field, there’s still an opponent, the field dimension doesn’t change.”
Volleyball coach Sharon Clark said she thinks her team will adapt to the new conference.
“I was amazed at how quickly we got going, got used to things last year with that change happening so late,” Clark said. “And it’s kind of like that prepared us a little bit more for another change again this year.”
Butler’s first Big East matchup is a women’s soccer match at Villanova on Sept. 26.