After falling to Notre Dame in overtime in the NCAA tournament Round of 32 last season, Chris Holtmann’s Butler Bulldogs will look to exceed that performance while also contending in the Big East in 2015-16. Thursday afternoon the program revealed its non-conference schedule, which has a few solid matchups that should help Butler get prepared for Big East play.
At first glance the biggest matchups for the Bulldogs will come away from Hinkle Fieldhouse, as they’ll play games against Cincinnati (December 2 in Cincinnati) and Purdue (December 19 at the Crossroads Classic at Bankers Life Fieldhouse). Butler will also host a Tennessee team led by new head coach Rick Barnes December 12.
Butler will be one of eight teams playing in the Puerto Rico Tipoff November 19, 20 and 22, with Miami, Minnesota, Mississippi State, Missouri State, Temple, Texas Tech and Utah completing the field. Those matchups will be officially announced later this summer.
Butler, which will begin its regular season against The Citadel November 14, has some challenging games on its schedule. With three starters and their top three scorers, led by Kellen Dunham and Roosevelt Jones, back on campus this is a schedule the Bulldogs should be able to manage ahead of Big East play.
Butler will also have a new point guard in Tyler Lewis, who’s eligible to play after sitting out last season following his transfer in from NC State.
The 2014 season was one filled with turmoil for Butler, and at the outset, the offseason appeared just as fraught. Rene Castro transferred during the year, and was followed by Nolan Berry and Devontae Morgan, but coach Brandon Miller’s summer recruiting duties just became a bit lighter: Tyler Lewis, a sophomore guard from North Carolina State, has decided to transfer to Butler.
Lewis is the first former McDonald’s All-America to suit up for Butler, and while he will have to sit out next season, his addition ticks off an immediate need for the Bulldogs — point guard.
Alex Barlow has one year of eligibility remaining, and while Kellen Dunham can run point, the guard is most ideally suited off the ball, a move that is guaranteed with Lewis in the fold. There was a thought that Lewis and Cat Barber, a freshman at NC State, would co-exist in the same backcourt, but it was clear towards the end of the 2014 season that Barber would run the team going forward, so despite Lewis’ 42.9 percent assist rate (which ranked within Ken Pomeroy’s top 50), the sophomore needed to find another program with minutes at the one.
The dearth of returning minutes is essentially why Lewis chose Butler: “That’s one of the main reasons I’m looking at them. I feel like I could get good playing time.” Lewis didn’t even visit any other schools before making his decision, choosing Butler after his one and only campus visit.
Tyler Lewis is transferring out of the N.C. State program, the school announced in a release late on Saturday night.
“I’d like to thank NC State, my teammates and coaches and the Wolfpack Nation for the past two years,” Lewis said in a statement. “While I will be finishing my career at another school, I will always be grateful for the opportunity at NC State.
Lewis, a sophomore point guard, averaged 4.4 points and 3.8 assists for the Wolfpack this season. He moved into the starting lineup for the last 14 games of the season.
“I wish Tyler the best,” NC State head coach Mark Gottfried said.
Lewis was a top 50 recruit and a McDonald’s All-American coming out of Oak Hill Academy, but freshman Cat Barber appears to be the future of the point guard spot for the Wolfpack. With Lewis transferring, Gottfried’s loaded 2012 recruiting class is no more. Rodney Purvis transferred after last season while T.J. Warren is entering the NBA Draft.