With the start of the Big East season less than one day away, basketball fans will get to ring in the New Year with some exciting opening matchups. The Butler Bulldogs have played 13 games already this season, giving the coaches a nice sample size to key in on what areas or issues the team could improve or resolve over the remainder of the season. Here are Butler's New Year's Resolutions:
1. Make every offensive possession count
The Bulldogs currently rank 17th in the nation in points allowed per game (56.2), but have failed to crack the top 100 in points per game or team field goal percentage. When their offense is firing on all cylinders, they can punish teams with Kellen Dunham's shooting and Roosevelt Jones' unconventional slashing ability. However, too often are possessions wasted when the team settles for poor shot opportunities. In the beginning of the season, Dunham was chucking up a lot of unbalanced threes that bricked off the rim, but to his credit, he's settled down as the season and excelled in catch-and-shoot scenarios. The main culprit is Jones, who has a tendency to throw the ball at the basket in contact while trying to draw a foul, and often doesn't get it. With a variety of versatile scoring options in the lineup, this squad doesn't need to settle for forced looks.
2. Get Andrew Chrabascz more involved on offense
We wrote about this in the 3-Point Preview prior to Sunday's win over Belmont, but Chrabascz has had some fantastic performances this season even with limited offensive touches. Headlined by a 17-point outing against UT Martin (not to mention a 14-point game against in-state rival Indiana), Chrabascz is averaging 9.5 points per game on 48.5 percent shooting. The sophomore forward is Butler's best back-to-the-basket player offensively, and he isn't afraid to use his strength to make up for a lack of height against bigger centers. We all know how physical the Big East schedule is, and Chrabascz will open up a lot of looks for his teammates if he can force defenders to crash into the paint. He's potentially the most underrated player in Butler's lineup, and deserves to see more touches throughout the rest of the year.
3. Make a decision regarding the coaching situation
We're not nearly two months into the season, and there has been no update regarding Brandon Miller's health. Furthermore, there's been no change to the status of interim head coach Chris Holtmann. Obviously it is a sensitive subject, but Butler and Miller's 12 weeks allowed for medical leave will come to an end in January. At that point, Athletic Director Barry Collier will have to make a decision whether to reinstate Miller or come to an agreement to let him out of his contract. We have no inside information, but we are of the opinion that Butler will have to stick with Holtmann. The players have responded increasingly well to him, and he's also had a lot of success at the helm. It will continue to be one of the conference's most interesting stories heading into 2015.