Two years and three conferences later, white, blue, red-colored and freshly new ‘Big East Conference’ logos cover a portion on both free throw lines at Hinkle Fieldhouse in Indianapolis, Ind., home of Butler University basketball.
Butler University seems to have finally found a conference home. Yesterday, the Bulldogs officially joined the Big East Conference. Let’s hope the Bulldogs can finally settle back down into a conference, in the “new” Big East. In 2012 Butler competed in their last year in the Horizon League. The following season they moved out east into the Atlantic 10 Conference. Entering the 2013-2014 season, the Bulldogs will play numerous tough and challenging opponents in the Big East, consisting of 10 teams.
Rotnei Clarke, along with 6-foot-11 Andrew Smith, Chase Stigall and Emerson Kampen departed the program, leaving the Bulldogs as they join the Big East. Clarke led the 2012-2013 team in scoring (16.9), total three-pointers (115), free throw shooting percentage (88.6%) and minutes played (33.3). Smith was written into Butler history as he joined two other elite basketball players, scoring 1,000 points and collecting 100 wins. Stigall, a starter in both Butler’s 2011 Final Four games, played in every single game of the 2011-12 and 2012-13 seasons. Kampen, alongside Smith and Stigall are the only three Butler basketball players from the 2012-2013 team to compete in the Final Four twice for Butler.
With the seniors departing, Coach Brad Stevens looks to rising seniors Erik Fromm and Khyle Marshall to head the pack. Coach Stevens has strong returning players in juniors Roosevelt Jones, Kameron Woods, one of last year’s walk-ons Alex Barlow and sophomore Kellen Dunham.
I believe the Bulldogs will have a successful showing in their new conference. The team played two fellow Big East teams twice in the 2012-13 season. Although last season ended at the hands of Marquette, the team defeated the Golden Eagles in dramatic fashion during the Maui Invitational with a buzzer-beater by Clarke. Xavier split two games with Butler, dominating the Bulldogs at home earlier in the season, 62-47. Clarke and company did not let the embarrassing loss affect them at Hinkle Fieldhouse, when they re-matched Xavier and won 67-62.
Butler joins nine other strong basketball squads in the Big East: Creighton, DePaul, Georgetown, Marquette, Providence, Seton Hall, St. John’s, Villanova and Xavier.