Butler begins practice after eventful summer
by Zak Keefer, USA TODAY Sports
INDIANAPOLIS — The change is unique to this Butler team, not one unique to this Butler program.
The season’s first official practice comes bright and early Saturday, a new coach guiding his new team on the floor at Hinkle Fieldhouse. The story has been told before — four times since 2000, in fact — and always seems to conclude in similar fashion. New coach, new era, same results.
This is Butler, after all. A head coach leaves, an assistant fills his spot. The goals are not altered, and neither is the process by which they work to achieve them.
Success has been the constant.
“What we have are a bunch of guys that buy into our system,” senior Khyle Marshall said after a workout this week. “This is a program that wins games, no matter who is the head coach.
“But the Butler coach is always someone that is going to rise to the occasion.”
And so the Brandon Miller era begins, with plenty of expectations and challenges lurking. For Miller, a first-year head coach leading his alma mater, it can’t get here soon enough.
“It’s a great time of year,” he said. “We can finally get in the gym. You can tell, guys have a little pep in their step knowing practice is coming.”
The Bulldogs, and college basketball teams nationwide, can get in the gym earlier this year than ever before. Historically, the first day that teams were allowed to practice came in mid-October. The NCAA recently changed the date, and this year, it’s Sept. 27.
The Bulldogs are going a day later, hitting the court at 8 a.m. Saturday.
“Being two weeks earlier, it feels a little weird with the warm weather outside,” senior forward Erik Fromm said. “It’s definitely a different feeling.”
They will need the extra work. Miller will incorporate six freshmen into a team with just two seniors — and without its top three scorers from a year ago.
Miller earned a significant victory last summer by persuading each of the freshmen to stay after coach Brad Stevens’ departure for the NBA’s Boston Celtics.
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