Friday, August 16, 2013

Quick Thoughts On The Roosevelt Jones Injury

I'm overdue to start blogging again. We're still six weeks from Midnight Madness, but we just experienced perhaps the most consequential injury of the offseason thus far - Roosevelt Jones is gone for the season with a wrist injury.

Roosevelt Jones may not be the best player on Butler, but he's easily the most important. At 6'4" and about 230 pounds he doesn't look like a point guard at first glance, but he played that role for Butler last season. He was the team's primary playmaker, and was one of two proven backcourt returners. Alex Barlow is the other proven returning backcourt player, though he is more of a prospect than anything. He had a breakout game against Bucknell in the NCAA Tournament (11 points, 5 rebounds, 4 steals), but isn't anywhere near the proven quantity of Roosevelt Jones.

Who else does Butler have in their backcourt now, besides Barlow? Jackson Aldridge, a prized 2011 point guard recruit who has done absolutely nothing in two seasons, is the team's #2 returning backcourt player. They also return Devontae Morgan, a lightly recruited shooting guard who played 3.1 minutes as a true freshman in 2012-13. Incoming backcourt recruits? A pair of three-star shooting guards in Rene Castro and Elijah Brown.

Butler will still have a fearsome front court duo of Khyle Marshall and Kameron Woods. It's possible that Butler can ask the 6'6" Kellen Dunham (who's going to be really, really good) to play shooting guard as part of a big starting lineup of Barlow, Dunham, Woods, Marshall and Erik Fromm. That would still be a very strong starting lineup. But it would be a lineup that lacks any real offensive playmaker, and it would be a lineup that would have to play a ton of minutes because of a lack of any real bench.

In the preseason I listed Butler as the 4th best team in the Big East, and my most recent bracket projection has them as a 7 seed, but those expectations have to be drastically reduced.

At this point, even if Butler stays healthy all season they're at best a bubble team (and with no depth, they're now really in trouble if any more injuries pop up). Right now I think you've got to rate them either 6th or 7th in the Big East (depending on whether you believe Providence will finally get their act together and live up to the hype), dropping them behind Creighton and St. John's.

It's a tough blow to a program still reeling from the loss of Brad Stevens. Butler has done a tremendous job moving from the Horizon League to the Atlantic Ten to the Big East in consecutive seasons, but their string of luck seems to be running out.

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