BY KYLE BEERY | STAFF REPORTER
The Butler men’s basketball team is 1-0 after routing the University of Maine 99-57 in its regular season opener.
The Bulldogs shot 71.9 percent from the field, breaking a school record of 69.7 percent against Illinois State on Dec. 9, 1993.
Kellen Dunham led the way for the Bulldogs, scoring 18 points. Dunham was 6-of-10 from the field, and 5-of-7 from three-point range.
Roosevelt Jones returned to the Bulldogs by going 7-for-9, scoring 14 points and dishing out nine assists. Jones missed all of last season with a broken left wrist.
Jones made several athletic plays Butler fans may not be used to seeing from him, including a fast break dunk, something he attributes to taking a year off to get his body fully healthy.
“I think the year off made my knees feel a lot better, because last year I could barely dunk,” Jones said. “I think it helped my game out a lot. I’ve been trying to work on my game, working on my passing skills, throwing it up to Kam [Woods], letting him go get it, so I think it really improved my game a lot and it’s going to help us out a lot down the road.”
Zarko Valjarevic and Aaron Calixte led the way for the Black Bears, with 12 points apiece. Maine had 18 turnovers and 11 assists, while Butler had 12 turnovers and 29 assists. The Bulldogs capitalized on the Black Bears’ miscues, scoring 32 points off turnovers.
First year interim head coach Chris Holtmann said he was impressed with his team’s ball movement.
“I think the most dominant thought in this particular game was how our guys shared the ball,” Holtmann said. “Their ability to find each other, play really unselfishly, has been a constant theme over these first couple games.”
Dunham said he feels the Bulldogs have improved their athleticism from last year, which will help as competition begins to improve, and especially when Big East play rolls around.
“We’ve got guys that have a better attitude about it,” Dunham said. “We’re very aggressive when it comes to those kinds plays, fifty-fifty balls.
“Coach Holtmann talks about how important those are in winning basketball games. Every one of my teammates goes after the ball very hard.”
The Bulldogs had 64 points in the paint, and outscored Maine 18-2 in fast break points.
10 of 12 Bulldogs scored, including walk-on Trey Pettus, a former member of the men’s club basketball team.
Sophomore Andrew Chrabascz had 13 points and senior Kameron Woods had 10. Senior point guard Alex Barlow went 2-for-2 from three-point range and finished with six points, as they were his only attempted shots of the game. Freshman Tyler Wideman also chipped in eight points.
Senior guard Jackson Aldridge suffered what Holtmann called a “significant ankle sprain” in the first half.
“I think he’s going to be out for a while,” Holtmann said. “What ‘a while’ is, I’m not sure, but it’s definitely going to be a little while, and I don’t think he thinks it’s any more than a significant sprain.”
Aldridge is slated to be the back up point guard, and Holtmann said he hopes to develop him for more depth at the position.
“Obviously we’re a little thin at that position, so we hope to get him back when he’s one hundred percent healthy,” Holtmann said.
The Bulldogs host the University of Tennessee-Chattanooga Tuesday night at 9 p.m. The Mocs are 1-0 after defeating Hiwassee College 110-53 Friday night, and play at the University of Wisconsin Sunday night. The Badgers are ranked No. 3 in the Associated Press Top 25.
Holtmann said Chattanooga will be a big step up from Maine in terms of the level of competition.
“I think our guys are well aware that Tuesday night the competition is going to change a great deal,” Holtmann said. “And we need to prepare ourselves for that.