INDIANAPOLIS – If there is a silver lining to the Butler men's basketball program losing its top three players from last year's squad, it's that those roles (or holes, if you will) are available for the taking, which makes for very fierce competition in practice.
The Bulldog faithful will get their first opportunity to view which of those players have performed well enough through the summer exhibition tour to Australia, and the preseason practices, when Butler takes part in the FOX Sports 1 Big East Tip-Off Party at Hinkle Fieldhouse today (doors open at 7:15 p.m. and the event is free).
“We have competed very hard in the practices,” new Butler coach Brandon Miller said recently following one of those sessions. “The guys care whether they win or lose. We have competitive practices and there is a winner and loser in every drill.”
There will also be a winner or loser tonight, as Butler will conduct a Blue-White scrimmage at 8 p.m. However, Miller said that more so than the big picture, is the micro-analysis of what he and his coaching staff are trying to implement before Tuesday's exhibition opener (7 p.m.) against NCAA Division II foe Nova Southeastern (Fla.).
“The biggest thing isn't the winning and losing,” Miller explained, “it's making sure that we are taking care of the details that need to be taken care of, to build up the habits that are going to carry on throughout the course of the year.”
Tonight's event will be a part of the two-hour Big East show that will air on FOX Sports 1 at 9 p.m. Each of the 10 programs in the Big East Conference will be holding similar events.
Aside from the scrimmage, Butler's cheerleaders, dance team and band will perform during the event, and there will be special prize giveaways.
Two fans will be chosen as Butler's “Most Rabid Fans,” and will be awarded a $100 gift card to the Butler Spirit Shop/Bookstore.
Following the scrimmage, players will be made available for autographs of the 2013-14 Butler schedule posters for fans in attendance.
The Bulldogs return nine letter winners, including Alex Barlow (point guard), Erik Fromm (forward), Khyle Marshall (forward), and Kellen Dunham (shooting guard), who each have starting experience, as well as key reserve Kameron Woods.
Miller is a first-time head coach, who replaced former coach Brad Stevens in July, after Stevens left to take the head coaching position with the Boston Celtics. The former Bulldog guard said that though his is new leadership, the core values of the program will not be altered.
“There is a standard that we are going to hold ourselves to,” Miller said. “There is a standard that we are going to play to. That's what we try to do on a daily basis is to continue that standard of Butler basketball.”