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Return to the 2006-07 Top 144 Preview

July 29th, 2006

By Joel Welser

Broadcast Basketball


Butler Bulldogs

Overall Rank: #106

Conference Rank: #2 Horizon


2005-06: 20-13, 11-5, 2nd

2005-06 postseason: NIT


Three players who started all 33 games are gone, but there are reasons for Butler fans to be hopeful.  The bench should be deeper and a pair of transfers will replace much of the production that is lost.


Who’s Out: Brandon Polk will be the toughest to replace.  The 6-6 forward led the squad with 18.0 points and added on 4.7 rebounds and 1.5 blocks.  Finding a replacement under the basket for him is the biggest issue with Butler heading into the 2006-2007 season.  The backcourt duo of Avery Sheets and Bruce Horan have a few players ready to replace them.  Sheets averaged 9.6 points and a team high 3.3 assists as a senior and Horan tacked on 10.9 points per contest. 


Who’s In: Mike Green and Pete Campbell step in for the absent Sheets and Horan.  Three years ago Green became the first player to start every game at point guard for Towson.  He didn’t miss much his second year either, and averaged 11.9 points and 4.3 assists before opting to transfer to Butler.  Campbell, a transfer from IPFW, is a tremendous shooter for a 6-7 forward.  He won’t battle inside too much, but Campbell has already proven he can score at the Division I level.  Eliott Englemann, a 6-7 forward, will add some depth to the three and four spots.  A trio of shooting guards in Forrest Smallwood, Grant Leiendecker and Will Veasley will add depth on the wings.  Veasley is garnering the highest expectations of the bunch and could develop into a spark off the bench this season.


Who to Watch: The backcourt is the strong point for most teams in the Horizon, but the frontcourt still needs to do some dirty work.  That will fall on senior Brian Ligon.  The 6-7 forward only averaged 2.3 points and 3.0 rebounds per game a year ago, but will be given the opportunity to see a drastic increase in numbers with Polk gone.  Fellow senior Brandon Crone can do the work on the glass.  The 6-6 forward averaged a team high 5.0 rebounds per game and tacked on 9.8 points.  There won’t be much height, but that duo is capable of holding down the frontcourt. 


Final Projection: A.J. Graves is the vibrant leader of the group.  Graves averaged 13.4 points, 2.4 assists, 2.3 rebounds and 1.3 steals last year.  He’s a dynamic scorer who can do more than just hit the long ball.  When things go bad, Coach Lickliter will look to Graves and, more times than not, Graves will get it done.  The Horizon is pretty well packed from top to bottom.  The difference between 2nd and 6th could be one game, and the difference in any game could be one mistake.  The two transfers have had a season to adjust and practice with the team and Green won’t make many of those mistakes while running the show.  There is some depth, especially with perennial sixth man Julian Betko returning.  Marcus Nellems and Drew Streicher won’t put up great numbers, but they do have experience.


Projected Post-season Tournament: none


Projected Starting Five:

Mike Green, Junior, Guard, DNP last season

A.J. Graves, Junior, Guard, 13.4 points per game

Pete Campbell, Sophomore, Forward, DNP last season

Brandon Crone, Senior, Forward, 9.8 points per game

Brian Ligon, Senior, Forward, 2.3 points per game

107 NC State » Complete List » 105 Missouri

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