Jon Teitel continues our season preview series by chatting with Butler shooting guard Kellen Dunham about switching coaches/conferences.
Your program moved from the A-10 to the Big East over the summer, what impact has this had on your off-season preparation? We are more focused on our weight training because we know it will be a more physical conference. We also focused on transition defense and getting in front of guys as well as guarding the post.
You have a new coach this year after Brandon Miller was hired in July, what do you think of him so far, and were you surprised that Brad Stevens took a job with the Celtics? We are very impressed with Coach Miller: his heart is into it and he played here before. We will miss Coach Stevens: he was very special.
You lost your two leading scorers from last year to graduation (Rotnei Clarke and Andrew Smith) and your third leading scorer (Roosevelt Jones) will miss the season after tearing ligaments in his left wrist in August. How will you be able to fill the offensive void left by the departure of these three starters? I think we can have a few guys step up who improved over the summer, but obviously we will miss all the guys who are not here. Roosevelt is unbelievable: he can do everything.
Your non-conference schedule includes games against Vanderbilt, Washington State, and Purdue. Which of these three games do you feel will present your biggest test? We will take it game by game but I always enjoy in-state games against teams like Purdue, especially because I am an Indiana guy.
What are your expectations for the upcoming season? I think we will be good: we will have our ups and downs like everyone else but we will have some incredible crowds here at Hinkle.
Last year you played in all 36 games as a freshman and were named to the A-10 All-Rookie Team. How were you able to come in and contribute right from the start? It was definitely a transition year for me, as there was a lot more thought and strength development that the coaching staff helped me with. I brought something special to the game because I could shoot the ball pretty well, and am hoping to do even better next year.
Last November you scored four points and Rotnei Clarke made a three-point shot at the buzzer in a one-point win over Marquette. Did you think it was going in? Yes: Rotnei was such a tremendous shooter, teammate and friend. I could not ask for a better group of role models than the senior class we had last year.
In December you scored eight points and 5’11” walk-on Alex Barlow took a six-foot jumper with 2.4 seconds left that bounced off the back rim, went straight up in the air and dropped down through the net in a two-point overtime win over Indiana. How were you able to upset the top-ranked team in the country? We approached that game with a lot of focus, and Coach Stevens had a great game plan. We tried to execute against their weaknesses, but we got lucky in a way.
In January you scored 14 points (4-8 3PM) and Roosevelt Jones stole an inbounds pass with 3.5 seconds left, drove into the lane, made a buzzer-beating floater in a one-point win over Gonzaga. Did it reach a point where you just expected to win games on amazing plays in the final seconds every single month?! Not at all: they were all surprises and we were fortunate to have such an exciting season. I just hope we can win some easier games this year!
In the 2013 NCAA tourney you scored four points in a two-point loss to Marquette. How excited are you to get the chance for some revenge against the Golden Eagles again now that they are one of your conference opponents? It is not so much about revenge: we are looking forward to playing them because they will bring something physical.