Butler Basketball: 5 Biggest Red Flags on Bulldogs 2013-14 Roster
If only the excise police could play point guard.
Fresh off a tumultuous weekend on Butler's campus in which 33 students were arrested by undercover excise police officers for the weekend known as "midsummer", at least basketball fans can breathe a sigh of relief that none of those 33 were one of Brad Stevens' prized athletes.
Still, that doesn't mean the 2013-14 roster is immune to negative speculation. Multiple questions continue to plague the Bulldogs as they continue their summer workouts.
Who's going to play center? Will Stevens' coaching strategy change in a different Big East game? Where is the scoring going to come from? And most of all, will new mascot "Trip" be able withstand the pressure and fill the paws of the beloved "Blue 2?"
Mascot concerns aside, here are the five biggest red flags on the 2013-14 Bulldog roster.
Lack of Senior Leadership
Senior leadership is a staple of any great Butler team - and the last time it was missing (aside from senior-at-the-time Ronald Nored), the Bulldogs scuffled their way through a 22-win season in 2011-12.
It's a definite concern going into 2013-14.
Butler has two returning seniors—forwards Khyle Marshall and Erik Fromm. They will be losing two of their most important players in Rotnei Clarke and Andrew Smith. They will also be losing sharpshooter Chase Stigall, but let's be honest, any "sharpshooter" doesn't shoot 28 percent from the field his senior year—only 72 percent lower than Butler students shooting half court shots on College Gameday.
Marshall is a lock to start at power forward, and Fromm will compete for minutes at center.
While both are solid players, Marshall is Butler's second-leading returning scorer. One of them is going to take a leadership role this year with the Bulldogs, something both are foreign to at this juncture in their careers.
Look for Stevens to give both players every opportunity in order to establish a senior presence than can be relied upon in crucial moments.
Lack of Muscle Inside
Doesn't the picture say it all?
For the record, Kameron Woods might be the most dynamic player on the Bulldogs roster. He's their best shot blocker, arguably their best rebounder (he averaged almost five in 17 minutes per game last year), and has feathery touch out to 15-feet.
With that said, Woods is listed at 200 pounds, and that might be generous. He has the potential to be absolutely man-handled by Big East centers.
For Butler's sake, they should hope he's been working out with roommate and 227-pound bull Roosevelt Jones. Strength can be gained as players mature, just ask Kevin Durant.
Still, as Butler's roster is currently constituted, I don't know if they can afford for Woods not to be on the floor as much as possible.
Jones is actually the heaviest player on the roster, and he may end up playing point guard. Freshman Nolan Berry, while many rave about his skill set, is more of a finesse player. As is senior Erik Fromm.
Suffice it to say, the Hinkle weight rooms better be as busy as they have ever been this summer.
How Will They Handle the Big East?
As I wrote here, Butler has more wins in the last five years than any team entering the new Big East.
Now, to point out the obvious: Butler competed in the Horizon league for four of those five seasons, while most of those teams played in the much stronger Big East.
Still, as Butler has proven in the past, they usually play to their competition. (Does Indiana, Gonzaga, or North Carolina last season ring any bells?) They also appeared to be legend-killers in their two final four runs.
However, it's easy to get up for big games when the only happen once in a while. To sustain success against top competition is a whole different ballgame.
Lack of "Shot Creators"
Many critics balked at the dismissal of Crishawn Hopkins prior to last season. At the time, it was just one less ego to worry about in an already crowded backcourt.
2013-14 is the year where Hopkins will really be missed.
Yes, he was erratic at times. At others he was just downright stupid. But the one skill he had—a skill that is crucial to any offense—was the ability to create shots for himself and his teammates.
Going into 2013-14, it is unknown who will provide this essential ability for Butler, especially at the end of games. As it stands, Roosevelt Jones is a likely candidate. His ability to penetrate and astute court vision qualify him for the job, but he lacks a jump shot to keep defenses honest.
Rene Castro is another, but how much can really be expected from an unheralded (for the most part) incoming freshman?
Butler will rely on its half court sets to create scoring opportunities, which will mean Brad Stevens will have to be on point with his calls this season in order for the 'Dawgs to put points on the board.
Because as the shot clock winds down this season, the looks Butler will get on offense are probably about as pretty as your standard Chris Bosh mug-shot.
Who Will Play Point Guard?
Point guard has been a position that Brad Stevens hasn't had to worry about in recent memory- from Shelvin Mack, to Ronald Nored to Rotnei Clarke - and even back to Matthew Graves if we're revving up the "way-back" machine.
It's likely the Bulldogs biggest red flag going into 2013-14.
I discussed the issue at length here. There are three candidates: Alex Barlow, Jackson Aldridge, and Rene Castro. One can't score, one lacks confidence and the other doesn't have any experience.
Roosevelt Jones is also a candidate to play point guard. While awkward at times with the ball, he may be the team's most skilled passer and penetrator. This would allow Butler to play Davontae Morgan or Andy Smithers alongside Jones and Dunham in the backcourt.
Smithers could be an X-factor this season for the Bulldogs. One of the team's most skilled offensive players, he also has a glaring issue: he struggles to guard his own mirror reflection. If he can improve even just a little bit defensively, Jones could be the full-time point guard.