Butler gets gritty glimpse of new neighborhood
by Mike Lopresti, USA TODAY Sports
CINCINNATI – So Butler, how are you liking life in the Atlantic 10 so far?
This was not officially the Bulldogs’ debut in their new conference; this customary early season game with Xavier was already on the books. But by the time the Musketeers had finished them off 62-47, the message was as easy to see as the glow sticks handed out to liven up a weekday afternoon crowd.
Butler has moved into a tough neighborhood, and Tuesday’s level of resistance just won’t do, if the initiation is not to be painful.
Or, as coach Brad Stevens said, “Losing stinks.”
Butler put the Horizon League on the map with those two fairy tale Final Four trips. But the grass was greener in the Atlantic 10, so here the Bulldogs are, league rookies, and Tuesday had to be a tad on the sobering side, when they lost by 15 after trailing by 20.
Xavier was picked to finish ninth in the conference.
Didn’t look it, though. And the Musketeers are not used to such slovenly respect around here, either.
“Today we wanted to make a statement,” Jeff Robinson said after 17 Xavier points. “We’re not the underdogs.”
Stevens didn’t think so either. “Better basketball team, better basketball playing, better coached. Just better. Not really even close.
“I kind of laughed at the whole ninth-place thing. I thought that was silly to begin with.”
Robinson grew up 15 minutes from Butler’s Indianapolis campus. For that matter, Xavier started more Indiana kids than the Bulldogs – 3-2. So this was in some ways an inside job on Butler.
The Bulldogs will get better because Brad Stevens teams always do. “We’ll see if we can make up any ground over the next four months,” he said Tuesday.
Stevens is trying to work in Arkansas transfer Rotnei Clarke and freshman Kellen Dunham, each perfectly willing to pull up and shoot from the next … [For more on Butler gets gritty glimpse of new neighborhood, click here.]