Butler, leaning on senior leadership, tips off season vs. IUPUI

NCAA Basketball

In a strange college basketball season where the NCAA Tournament was held in venues throughout Indiana, one of the campus hosts, Butler, was nowhere to be found in the Big Dance.

The Bulldogs (10-15 last season) bowed out of the Big East Tournament in the second round after a 31-point defeat at the hands of Creighton.

This past season of unknowns produced many challenges for Butler, but the Bulldogs are excited to begin their 2021-22 campaign against visiting IUPUI on Tuesday night in Indianapolis.

For starters, fifth-year head coach LaVall Jordan will see 10 of his 11 top scorers from last season return, including six fifth-year or graduate players.

“Those guys have been around the block,” Jordan told The Butler Collegian last week. “We’re expecting a lot of those guys in terms of leadership. There’s an expectation for that group of leaders to set the tone each and every day.”

It starts with sophomore Chuck Harris (12.9 points last season), a preseason All-Big East Honorable Mention, and continues with experienced players like Bryce Nze (11.4 points) and Jair Bolden (10.5 points).

A three-man recruiting class headlined by three-star recruit Pierce Thomas (21.6 points as a high school senior), will inject new life into the program moving forward.

Butler faces an IUPUI team that went 8-10 last season, including a 7-9 record in the Horizon League.

The Jaguars were knocked out in the first round of the Horizon League Tournament last spring and will see some significant turnover for this coming season.

This season, IUPUI has been picked to finish last in the Horizon League preseason poll, much of that coming with the departure of their top three scorers including Marcus Burk (21.7 points last season).

“I challenged the young men when (the preseason poll) came out — this should be a motivation every day,” first-year head coach Matt Crenshaw said. “Coaches don’t play, players play. I just want to put us in situations to win.”

Crenshaw was able to add some depth to his team this season in the form of graduate transfers B.J. Maxwell (St. Edward’s) and Zach Gunn (Ball State) and a five-man recruiting class headlined by three-star recruit KJ Pruitt (Lewisville, TX).

Among those returning for the Jaguars include seniors Azariah Seay (5.7 points) and Bobby Harvey (5.6 points).

–Field Level Media

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