2007 Butler Bulldogs College Basketball Preview
The Bulldogs of Butler (29- 7 overall, 13- 3 Horizon) tied for first-place in the Horizon League at a time when everyone thought that they’d be busy recovering from the loss of star player Brandon Polk. Polk was the league’s Player of the Year in 2006. In last year’s NCAA tourney, Butler got all the way to the Sweet 16, losing to Florida 65- 57. The major change for the Bulldogs this season is not on the court but on the sideline where Brad Stevens takes over for former head coach Todd Lickliter. The popular and highly successful Lickliter went to Iowa, leaving the Butler job open for Stevens, Lickliter’s former assistant.
The Butler defense allowed opponents merely 57.1 PPG, which was first in the Horizon and fifth in the nation. Scoring 67.6 PPG, the Bulldogs had a plus/minus of plus-10.5 PPG. The team was first in turnovers in the conference and nationally, losing the ball an average of 9.5 TPG. The club was fourth in assists, notching 12.1 APG. The Bulldogs hit 76% of their free throws.
Joining the team and available to play in December is forward Avery Jukes. Jukes, who transferred from Alabama, will be a big, athletic presence in the frontcourt. Senior forward Julian Betko (4.3 PPG, 2.0 RPG) can play front and back. Senior forward Pete Campbell (9.1 PPG, 1.6 RPG) has a fine shot from the paint and an accurate three-pointer. Freshman Matt Howard, who found Big 10 schools courting him, opted for Butler and will get some experience.
The backcourt features two of the conference’s top players. Point guard Mike Green (13.9 PPG, 6.0 RPG, 4.0 APG) seems to be as close to perfect as a player can be. Green, who transferred from Towson last year, was Horizon League Player of the Year. The constantly cool and calm A.J. Graves (16.9 PPG, 2.3 RPG) scores points in bunches. He’s a real go-to guy.
The Butler Bulldogs will be extremely competitive, playing tough non-conference opponents such as Ohio State and Bradley. Look for Butler to vie for a top-25 spot in the rankings this year and for the Bulldogs to make another trip to the big tourney.