The 2013-2014 Butler men’s basketball season has had its fair share of ups and downs. A 1-7 mark in Big East play so far would imply there have been more of the latter recently.
However, some positives that have come from this season include sophomore guard Kellen Dunham’s team-leading 18 points per game, junior forward Kameron Woods being among the league leaders in rebounding, and the emergence of freshman forward Andrew Chrabascz.
The 6-7 Chrabascz is averaging 15 minutes of playing time per contest. He has cracked 20 minutes three times in eight conference games. In that time, he averaged five points and three rebounds per game.
But what the stats do not show is how effective Chrabascz can be on defense. This is something assistant coach Chris Holtmann said he and the rest of the team have taken notice of.
“Obviously he has scored the ball with more force, but he has also been a defensive presence for us, defending the post,” Holtmann said. “Certainly there are some areas that he needs to improve on defensively, but he has really been a guy that in terms of his post defense, has been a real asset.”
Chrabascz, a member of former coach Brad Stevens’ final recruiting class, came to Indianapolis from Cushing Academy in Rhode Island. The team went 66-19 in his three years as a varsity starter and earned a state championship last year.
Chrabascz averaged more than 13 points and 11 rebounds in his senior season and totaled more than 2,200 points in his high school career.
At the beginning of his first collegiate season, Chrabascz said he was not sure how much playing time he would be getting, so he did the only thing he could: work harder than ever.
“I was just going to practices every day with the right mindset and working hard every day, so I was hoping to earn what I was putting in,” the freshman said. “I’m happy with what I’m getting now, as long as it’s hopefully contributing to whatever we’re doing.”
Chrabascz said hard work is important when a team is trying to improve, as well as the relationship the teammates have with each other.
“We’re very, very close (as a team). That’s important, especially with how we’re doing right now—we have to make sure that we stay together,” Chrabascz said. “We’re each others’ best friends, we’re each others’ brothers, and we’ve got to make sure we stay that way.”
“How we’re doing right now” refers to the team’s first eight conference games. After the team’s most recent loss to St. John’s, one article in the Indianapolis Star bore the headline “Butler’s Big East Nightmare Continues,” a title that Chrabascz said he understands but does not agree with.
“We have plenty of time to still turn this around,” he said. “We’re possessions away from winning games. We should be fine. I understand the title, but it’s not a nightmare yet.”
To prevent the season from getting to the point where it is unsalvageable, Chrabascz said the players will need to work with the coaching staff to make sure the team keeps moving in the right direction.
Chrabascz added that this will not be hard to do because of the quality coaches at Butler.
“They do an amazing job,” Chrabascz said. “They do all the little things that go unnoticed, but it’s huge for our team that they’re there and contribute every day.”
Holtmann said Chrabascz is what the coaches call “an everyday guy,” meaning he shows up to practice every day ready to work.
“He’s self-motivated, he’s really tough, he is a high achiever, and you usually see those guys be pretty successful,” Holtmann said.