Originally posted on The Sports Bank  |  Last updated 4/12/12

This year, as two of the best programs and college basketball history made their way to the final game to compete for a national title, it was almost a change of pace from the last couple of years. With Butler’s two Final Four runs in 2010 and 2011, it was different to see a Final Four stacked with powerhouses in 2012 while Butler failed to even reach the tournament.

After losing several seniors and junior Shelvin Mack after last year’s runner-up season, the Bulldogs struggled to get going early this season. Especially on the offensive side, this was a team that did not play like prototypical Butler teams coached by Brad Stevens.

By Collin O’Connor

However, with another year of experience and signs of improvement as the season moved along, this Butler program will again have a team that will be scary for anyone to play against.

Despite the loss of arguably the best on-ball defender in the NCAA last season in Ron Nored, this team returns every significant contributor and includes now-eligible transfer Rotnei Clarke who led Arkansas in scoring two seasons ago.

The Bulldogs will also return their entire front-court from last season including the senior-to-be Andrew Smith who experienced both NCAA tournament runs. Khyle Marshall will be back as well as he should provide a spark off the bench with his athleticism, and Erik Fromm will bring his three-point shooting back to a team that will not be short of shooters.

Additionally, the Bulldogs will also be adding a stellar recruiting class that is highlighted by a homegrown Indiana prospect who averaged 29.5 points per game in Kellen Dunham.

Moving forward, the two additions of Dunham and Clarke should play a vital role in their first season playing with the program as they should be able to help put the ball in the basket on a team that struggled to do so at times this season.

Add those newcomers to a talented class from last year that logged significant minutes, and this should be a team that is destined for success. Kameron Woods, Roosevelt Jones and Jackson Aldridge all played a role as freshmen this season, and should be expected to be improved after a whole season and off-season under their belt.

Overall, the 2012-2013 season should shape up to be one where Butler returns to the national spotlight. In the preliminary top 25 rankings on ESPN, the Bulldogs did not make the list, but were mentioned at the bottom as a team who was considered. As more and more players move to the NBA in the coming weeks, they should be moving higher up on the list as well.

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