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Butler's Fromm brings veteran leadership

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Tipoff: Nova Southeastern at Butler, 7 p.m., tonight.

Online: For more on college sports, follow Pete DiPrimio via Twitter at www.twitter.com/pdiprimio

Senior moves into starting role

Tuesday, October 29, 2013 - 6:25 pm

INDIANAPOLIS -- If you're Butler senior forward Erik Fromm, comfort is key -- to a point. Confidence is critical -- within reason.

Fromm has a starting opportunity four years in the making, and taking advantage of it is priority No. 1.

“It's always been confidence for me,” he says. “This year I have more of an offensive role than in the past. Just getting comfortable and confident are the biggest things. It's being more aggressive. I'll be seeing more minutes, so if I get an open shot, shoot it. I have to get used to being aggressive with being a pick-and-pop man.”

The 6-8 Fromm has one career start, but that's about to change in a big way. The Bulldogs lost their top three scorers from last year's 27-win team -- Rotnei Clarke and Andrew Smith to graduation, Roosevelt Jones to injury. They need leadership and experience. They need substance over spectacular.

Fromm gives them that.

“Eric is one of our leaders,” coach Brandon Miller says. “He's done a terrific job in practice, not only with his play, but with getting others to step up and play at a different level. Eric is probably our most verbal communicator in a leadership role. He gets the guys together; he talks to them; he's constantly leading the younger guys.”

Fromm leads with action as much as words. During four games in the summer trip to Australia, he averaged 9.5 points, with a high of 18 against the Sydney Kings. Butler went 2-2.

Fromm spent his first three Butler seasons as a reserve. Last year against Charlotte, he had a season-high 13 points, plus a career-high nine rebounds. He had 10 points against Indiana and IUPUI. He averaged 3.4 points and 2.5 rebounds. His career averages are 2.9 points and 1.7 rebounds.

As a starter, those numbers figure to jump.

“I'm trying to be more talkative and transition in going from the backup center for Andrew Smith to being one of the leading (power forwards and centers),” he says. “The Australia trip helped me with that. Hopefully as we get into the season I can blossom into that role.”

Fromm is better than last year's 30.9 percent three-point shooting would indicate, and consistent minutes should prove it.

“Eric is a very good shooter,” Miller says. “He can space the floor. He can make open shots. You can use him in ball screen situations and spreading the floor.

“On defense he's a guy who knows the game. ... He can see things before they happen because he's a smart player. He's played in big games and has seen a lot of things. He can read and react and talk and help guys through defensive situations.

“He can give us a lot, not only stuff you see on a stat sheet, but stuff you don't see on a stat sheet.”

Fromm will get a chance to show that stuff during tonight's exhibition game against Nova Southeastern, an NCAA Division II school from Florida. It beat Indianapolis' Marian University on Sunday 64-59.

Butler seeks to build on Friday night's scrimmage. Freshman guard Elijah Brown led with 19 points. Senior forward Khyle Marshall had 18 points. Fromm had 13 points.

This will be Miller's first exhibition as Butler's head coach. He replaced Brad Stevens last summer. The transition has been smooth, Fromm says, which was expected given Miller is a former Bulldog player and a former Bulldogs assistant coach.

“The practices are the same,” Fromm says. “The team chemistry and how we run things are the same. It's the same kind of stuff, Butler stuff.”