Butler men’s basketball expecting production from freshman class


INDIANAPOLIS — There hasn’t been a shortage of questions surrounding Butler this fall, but as the Bulldogs are a dozen official practices into their season, many on-the-floor aspects are gaining clarity.

It’s becoming more noticable from watching the squad practice — on the main court, finally — at Hinkle Fieldhouse Thursday that the kids can play — and will.

Butler fans are curious as to how much the freshmen players will contribute this season after last season’s freshman class (aside from forward Andrew Chrabascz) was not a major part of the system.

For the most part, there’s no need to worry about newcomer Kelan Martin’s ability to contribute this season.

Phil Sears | USA TODAY Sports Images
Interim head coach, Holtmann, right, Miller, left.

“Kelan will play the 3 [small forward],” interim Butler coach Chris Holtmann said. “Maybe some 4 [power forward], but probably all 3, and he’s got a chance to play a lot as a freshman.”

Holtmann took over for head coach Brandon Miller when Miller took a medical leave of absence in early October.

The 6-foot-6 Martin worked in drills exclusively with the “smalls” during Thursday’s workout and once the team got into a scrimmage situation, he showed his offensive skills.

Martin show the ability to come off screens and shoot 3-pointers, but he was really impressive taking a couple of hard dribbles into the lane and shooting a mid-range shot in traffic.

Defensively, his head was spinning a bit, but it’s just been two weeks, so he has some time to make the adjustment.

Other newcomers, such as forward Tyler Wideman, also had their moments. Wideman had a tendency to disappear at times, but there is no doubt that the kid has the size, strength, athleticism, and ability to contribute this year.

“That is the biggest thing that he needs to improve on is his motor,” Holtmann said. “That comes into effect when he’s changing ends. Can he change ends and still play effectively and stay in a stance and play in a stance? But we expect him to play early.”

Austin Etherington will fill an interesting role that many Indiana basketball fans may be surprised with, and that is of a frontcourt player.

At 6-foot-6, 215 pounds, the strongest player on the team, Etherington is working primarily with the “bigs” and Holtmann said the Hoosier transfer brings versatility to his team.

“He’s going to be a perimeter player playing the 4 spot,” Holtmann said. “A stretch 4, he’ll definitely play that position.”

Etherington didn’t make very many perimeter shots during the scrimmage, but he did knock one down late. However, you can tell that he brings experience. He’s crafty on cuts on out-of-bound plays and scored a couple of times off of those, plus he frequently was helping the freshmen by pulling them aside and offering instruction.

How big of an impact that Etherington has on the court remains to be seen, but he’ll leave an impact with his intellect, maturity, and leadership over the next two seasons.

When it’s all said and done, Jackson Davis could be the best of the freshman players, but that won’t be in the immediate future.

The lengthy forward moves really well and has good athleticism. He didn’t shoot great Thursday, but you can tell that he can shoot mid-range face-up shots. But right now, he’s learning how to play at this level and that is a process.

ICYMI: Tyler Wideman 15 pts/18 reb for Indiana All-Stars last night. For Ky., Kelan Martin scored 13, Jackson Davis 6. All #Butler-bound.

— David Woods (@DavidWoods007) June 15, 2014