ERIC ROBINSON | CO-SPORTS EDITOR Photo by Nora Navin
After a historic performance to begin the 2015-16 campaign, the Butler men’s basketball team will head to Puerto Rico for the Puerto Rico Tip-Off in San Juan. The Bulldogs’ first game in this eight team format has them pitted against Missouri State University who is coming off an opening game loss against Oral Roberts. The rest of the field is made up of Temple University, University of Minnesota, the University of Miami, Mississippi State University, 16th ranked University of Utah, and Texas Tech University.
Head coach Chris Holtmann said that Missouri State will be a more physical opponent and will present a different kind of gameplay.
The Bears grabbed 37 rebounds in their first game of the season, the most for Missouri State since January 3rd.
“Missouri State is tough and physical,” Holtmann said. “They play really hard and they have good athleticism collectively.”
Holtmann said that one of the main things that the team needs to do is make sure that a win such as the one they had over The Citadel does not get into the heads of the players.
“I think our guys understand that we have a lot to prove and a lot to work on,” he said. “I think they know starting Thursday it’s going to be a completely different story.”
Holtmann said he thinks that although the quality of the teams in Puerto Rico will be strong, the quality of the team’s play should not change.
Senior Kellen Dunham said that he is looking forward to the tournament in Puerto Rico.
“We’re really excited to get the season really kicked off here in a big light that Puerto Rico offers,” Dunham said. “So we’re excited to show how much improvement we’ve made.”
Butler has won two of three meetings all-time against Missouri State. The last time they played was on November 14, 1998. The Bears won that game 72-57 and featured Brandon Miller. Miller would go on to transfer to Butler and coach the Bulldogs for the 2013-2014 season.
The Bulldogs start the tournament on Thursday following the completion of Temple and Minnesota. It will be televised on EPSNU.