Butler will take a step back in 2010 without NBA draft lottery pick Gordon Hayward.
No one would ever dispute that fact.
But losing Hayward, who was taken by the Utah Jazz at No. 9, after his sophomore season doesn't mean the Bulldogs no longer have a star.
Bob Donnan/US PresswireButler coach Brad Stevens says Shelvin Mack will be the Bulldogs' go-to guy next season.
Guard Shelvin Mack has the tag and is wearing it well.
Mack is in Las Vegas this week with the U.S. select team, a collection of college upperclassmen who will play for Washington's Lorenzo Romar and Villanova's Jay Wright and will prep the U.S. national team for the FIBA World Championships next month in Turkey.
Mack is in his second straight stint with USA Basketball. He helped the 19-and-under team win gold in New Zealand in the summer of 2009. Mack was in Akron at the LeBron James Skills Academy earlier this month, and ESPN analyst Fran Fraschilla wrote after working the camp that "Mack is a point guard with NBA strength right now, and he utilizes it to bull his way into the lane and effortlessly shoot the NBA 3-point shot."
Butler coach Brad Stevens said he has heard that Mack has had a terrific summer and the coach was anticipating even more good news out of Las Vegas.
"He's our go-to guy," Stevens said. "Shelvin's goal in the offseason is to be even better in his role. And his role is to be a very good player in a lot of areas."
Mack needs some help, though, and the plan is for him to get it from Ronald Nored on the offensive end. Nored wasn't asked to be more than a defensive stopper on last season's national runner-up. But he had a stress fracture in his leg and hasn't been able to play this offseason. Stevens said Nored had surgery and is expected to be ready for workouts in early September.
But Hayward's departure puts even more heat on center Matt Howard to produce in the post. Stevens isn't worried about Howard staying out of foul trouble.
"He'll be older, better and more on the floor for us," Stevens said.
The Bulldogs once again have a stellar schedule. Butler is in the Diamond Head Classic in Honolulu, one of the best nonconference tournaments out there, on Dec. 22, 23 and 25. There the Bulldogs, the favorite in the Horizon League and a top-25 lock, join one of the Big 12 favorites in Baylor. Florida State should be on the fringe of the top 25 and a possible NCAA team. Mississippi State has a chance, as well. Washington State could be a sleeper in the Pac-10 with the return of one of the best trios in the Pac-10 (Klay Thompson, Reggie Moore and DeAngelo Casto), while Utah, San Diego and Hawaii round out the field.
Butler also plays Duke in New Jersey, returns a BracketBuster game at Siena, opens Louisville's new home, goes to Xavier and hosts Stanford, Ball State and Evansville.
Stevens said the Bulldogs are looking to add two more home games, likely guaranteed games without a return. Stevens said that was going to happen even if the Bulldogs didn't reach the national title game. He said athletic director Barry Collier had been moving toward getting more money to pay out guaranteed games without a return. The Bulldogs are also looking into chartering more next season, most importantly for Horizon League games that are out of bus range, like at Wisconsin. The games in Newark, N.J., Albany, N.Y., and Honolulu are obviously flights in the nonconference portion of the schedule.
• The NCAA sent out an announcement that Connecticut athletic director Jeff Hathaway will be named the new chair of the men's basketball committee in 2012, replacing Ohio State athletic director Gene Smith. Hathaway may have the awkward position of chairing the committee while his program is under NCAA sanctions. The UConn men's basketball program goes in front of the Committee on Infractions for a hearing on alleged recruiting violations on Oct. 15-16. Hathaway is also a reported candidate for the vacant Maryland athletic director's position, but the timing may not be right for him to move at this juncture. Conferences control the committee seats when it has a spot, according to the NCAA. If Hathaway were to leave UConn for Maryland, then the Big East would appoint a new representative, and the committee would select a new chair. The men's basketball chair is clearly one of the most important NCAA positions, next to the chair of the Committee on Infractions. Smith takes over the chairmanship from UCLA athletic director Dan Guerrero, whose term will end in September. Guerrero oversaw a new, $10.8 billion television deal with CBS/Turner and helped coordinate the "First Four" opening round of the new 68-team tournament.