For the third consecutive year, Butler has been picked as the Horizon League favorite in the annual preseason poll of league coaches, media and SIDs. Makes sense given how they’re coming off back to back national title game appearances, and have been far and away the class of the HL the past three college basketball seasons. (Also the only mid-major to earn their own Category here on TSB)
The Bulldogs received 468 points in the poll. Detroit, with 19 first place votes, picked up 453 points. Cleveland State received two first place votes and was tabbed third with 388 points, while Milwaukee picked up the remaining first place vote and finished fourth in the poll with 356 points. Cleveland State and Milwaukee tied with Butler for the Horizon League regular season title a year ago.
Our two local teams, Loyola and UIC, were picked dead last and penultimate. Ah yes, sweet home Chicago!
For our season preview of Butler go here
“It’s a nice compliment to what (Butler’s) teams over time have accomplished,” Butler head coach
Brad Stevens said of the poll. “One thing the league has proven to be is not very easy to predict. It’s a
lot less about where you’re picked right now and a lot more about who gets better and who can navigate
the ups and downs of a season.”
Detroit landed three players on the All-League first team, including preseason Player of the Year Ray McCallum. Joining him were teammates Eli Holman and Chase Simon, along with Trevon Harmon of Cleveland State and Kaylon Williams of Milwaukee.
Butler’s Andrew Smith was chosen second team All-League (no one from the Bulldogs made it to the first team obviously), along with Tony Meier of Milwaukee, Alec Brown of Green Bay, Ben Averkamp of Loyola and Ryan Broekhoff of Valparaiso.
Butler returns two starters from last year’s 28-10 squad, which won the Horizon League regular season for the fifth consecutive time, and a second straight conference tournament crown. The Bulldogs were a sputtering bubble team in February, but they rose up down the stretch of conference season, ran the conference tourney table and went all the way to the title game. Butler won 14 in a row before being routed by UConn in the UGLIEST Title game of all time.
However, the dogs also matched their league- and school-record No. 2 ranking in the final ESPN/USA Today poll.
Smith started 32 games last season and finished as the team’s second-leading rebounder (5.6) and third leading scorer (8.5). He led the Bulldogs and finished second in the Horizon League in field goal shooting (.593). Sophomore Chase Stigall also was in Butler’s starting lineup when the Bulldogs faced Connecticut in the 2011 national championship game, while senior Ronald Nored was in the starting lineup when Butler met Duke in the 2010 national title contest.
Nored led the Bulldogs in steals and finished second in assists last season, while Stigall finished fourth on the team in three-point field goals. Butler will opens the regular season at Evansville on Saturday, Nov. 12.
Porter Moser takes over the coaching reigns at Loyola as the Ramblers move into a renovated Gentile Arena. Jordan Hicks (11.7 ppg) returns after missing two-thirds of the season due to injury, adding to the production of Averkamp and Walt Gibler (9.4 ppg).
With nine newcomers, Howard Moore’s UIC squad saw the most turnover in the League. Moore will turn to seniors Darrin Williams (4.9 ppg, 3.5 rpg) and Paris Carter (4.8 ppg, 4.0 rpg) to lead the young squad.
2011-12 Horizon League Men’s Basketball Preseason PollRank School (1st) Points 1. Butler (28) 468 2. Detroit (19) 453 3. Cleveland State (2) 388 4. Milwaukee (1) 356 5. Valparaiso 255 6. Green Bay 247 7. Youngstown State 195 8. Wright State 157 9. Loyola 145 10. UIC 86
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