Butler to open new season with private practice

Butler doesn’t want television cameras, large crowds or hype. So

the national runner-ups are going under cover for their opening

practice.

Players and coaches boarded a team bus in the afternoon and

drove about 25 miles south of Indianapolis to Franklin College.

They moved into their temporary housing and prepared for their

first official workout Friday night.

”I think it’s sort of out of necessity because of the football

game and volleyball games here, and at the same time, it gives us a

chance to really be focused,” senior center Matt Howard said.

”You know, if we’re not focused there, we’ve got problems.”

Fame hasn’t changed Butler’s approach to the start of basketball

season.

While most schools turn opening night into a glitzy showcase for

fans and recruits, the Bulldogs have never subscribed to that

theory and won’t start now.

Instead, the Bulldogs are doing what they’ve always done on the

night formerly dubbed Midnight Madness – using the first practice

to set the tone for the season and letting wins, losses and

game-day crowds make their pitch to recruits.

”It wouldn’t have made me want to come here,” Howard said. ”I

was looking at performance, and Midnight Madness is not indicative

of why you win games. If you come to a game, in general, you’ll see

the fan base.”

Coach Brad Stevens wants to do it his way, and that means

sticking to basics.

”That’s just not part of our preparation,” he said before

leaving Hinkle Fieldhouse. ”For me, it’s about getting a chance to

go to work. To each program, their own. But just because other

schools are doing it, doesn’t mean it’s the thing for us.”

Players will work out once Friday night and twice Saturday

before returning to school. Stevens describes it as a two-day

”mini-camp,” and acknowledges it’s something he’s wanted to do

for years.

But it’s also practical. With the Bulldogs’ volleyball team

playing at Hinkle Fieldhouse on Friday night and Saturday

afternoon, practice time would have been limited anyway. The

football team also hosts rival Dayton on Saturday at 1 p.m..

”I think it’s great that we get to spend some more time with

our teammates off the court,” guard Shelvin Mack said. ”And to

get away from campus a little bit is great, too, because a couple

of players can’t really go home because of distance anyway. So it’s

an opportunity for us to grow as a team.”