Brandon Miller

Makeover of Butler’s Hinkle Fieldhouse nearing completion

Leave a comment

For many of the programs that have seen their revenue grow due to a switch in conferences, the renovation of current facilities (and even the building of new facilities) tends to be one of the side effects. However even with the added revenue there’s still the need for fundraising in order to complete those projects, because regardless of conference affiliation donors willing to help finance projects are of great importance.

At Butler donors stepped up in a big way when the school asked for donations for its project to renovate Hinkle Fieldhouse, with the school having announced back in January that it had surpassed its goal of raising $16 million. At that time more than $17.1 million had been raised for the project, which is intended to make Hinkle more modern while also preserving its history.

Thursday Mike DeCourcy of The Sporting News provided a look at some of the changes, which include a four-sided scoreboard and brand new locker rooms.

The seating area is being renovated so that there’ll be only a few bleachers remaining and the chairback seats installed are more comfortable and modern. That will cost the arena, which previously held 10,000 for basketball, some seating capacity.

Butler also has built new weight rooms, training rooms and therapy areas for use by the basketball team and other Bulldogs athletes.

For some traditionalists the changes to Hinkle may be something they’re hesitant to embrace but in this current era of college athletics sparkling facilities have an impact on multiple aspects of a program, including recruiting and even non-conference scheduling. The changes being made to Hinkle give head coach Brandon Miller something to pitch to recruits as he looks to build Butler into a program that can compete for Big East championships.

With Roosevelt Jones lost for the season before it even began Butler struggled in its debut season in the Big East, finishing the 2013-14 campaign with a 14-17 record (4-14 Big East). Leading scorer Kellen Dunham (16.4 ppg, 4.0 rpg) returns, but the Bulldogs will have to account for the loss of second-leading scorer Khyle Marshall (14.9, 4.8) in 2014-15.

Knee injury sidelines Illinois forward Leron Black

Josh Hart, Leron Black
Associated Press
Leave a comment

Illinois will be shorthanded in its front court for the time being, as during the team’s media day Thursday head coach John Groce announced that sophomore forward Leron Black is out due to injury.

Black will undergo surgery Friday to repair a meniscus tear in his knee, and he’s expected to miss anywhere from four to six weeks. A return after four weeks would have Black back on the court just before the Fighting Illini open their season November 13 against North Florida. Any longer and the Memphis native would wind up missing some game action.

Black averaged 5.0 points and 4.3 rebounds in just under 15 minutes of action per game as a freshman. He’s one of the players expected to contribute in the front court for the Fighting Illini, who lost their best interior defender and second-leading rebounder in Nnanna Egwu at the end of last season (guard Rayvonte Rice, who led the team in rebounding, is also gone).

In addition to Black and junior Maverick Morgan, Illinois adds redshirt freshman Michael Finke and grad student Mike Thorne Jr. (via Charlotte) to their front court rotation.

Coach Hamilton likes mix on Florida State basketball roster

ACC Basketball Tournament: Florida State v North Carolina
Getty Images
Leave a comment

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) Florida State is the only team in the Atlantic Coast Conference that returns all five of its starters from last season.

For most teams that would be cause for celebration. For coach Leonard Hamilton it means he is hoping the struggles of the past two seasons have been valuable experience.

The Seminoles had their first practice on Wednesday as they are looking to bounce back from a season in which they went 17-16 and didn’t play in a postseason tournament for the first time in 10 years.

“We have five starters returning from a team that won 17 games. We have guys that have been around, who know their shortcomings and can pass on their wisdom to the younger players,” Hamilton said.

With an experienced roster and a highly regarded recruiting class, Hamilton is hoping to lead the Seminoles back to the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2012, which is also the year they won the ACC Tournament.

Jarquez Smith, the leading returning scorer from last season, said the open gyms before the start of practice have been extremely competitive as the incoming recruiting class has tried to assert itself early.

“We’ve been going at each other’s neck and it has gotten very competitive,” Smith said. “Everyone is fighting for their position because the guys coming off the bench are just as athletic as who is on the court.”

The newcomers feature Dwayne Bacon (a McDonald’s All-American selection), Terance Mann (the Gatorade Player of the Year in New Hampshire) and Malik Beasley (the Georgia 1A Player of the Year). There’s also Chris Koumadje, who at 7-foot-4 will be the tallest player in school history, and Benji Bell, who helped lead Northwest Florida State to the JUCO National Title.

“This is a very confident and focused group of inexperienced players,” Hamilton said. “They want to make something special happen but aren’t taking anything for granted.”

Two things that Hamilton will look to work on during preseason practices is defense and figuring out his rotation. The Seminoles suffered from a lack of depth last season but this year he could have a roster that goes 10 deep and allows him to go to more of a full-court pressing style of defense.

Xavier Rahan-Mayes led the team in scoring last season, averaging 14.9 points en route to becoming the first freshman in ACC history to score 30 or more points three times. The one thing he said he noticed in preseason practices were that everyone played off each other’s strengths.

Florida State’s first exhibition game is Nov. 2 against Lynn University before opening the season on Nov. 15 against Nicholls State.

“I think we have a pretty good combination of experience and an influx of new players. Any time you have that type of scenario you appreciate it,” Hamilton said. “It looks like we have it moving in the right direction. We’ve had a good offseason and regrouped.”