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Men’s basketball recap

Brayden Oneal

Student Sports Media

The 2022 Butler basketball team had another good season during Coach Kyle Fisher’s tenure. They went 23-9 overall in his third season and 16-8 in the Jayhawk Conference, good for third behind Dodge City and Hutchison. The Grizzlies’ season ended with a loss to Hutchinson, 92-85, in a tough, hard-fought game at the Region VI Semifinals at Tony’s Pizza Event Center in Salina.

Sophomore guard Eden Holt led the Grizzlies’ successful season with 12.8 points per game and sophomore guard Jaden Okon and sophomore forward Marque English both at 11.4. Marque English ended the season as the team’s leading rebounder with 6.3 and Jaden Okon with 5.9 and leading the team in assists per game was Holt with 4.7 and Caleb Golden with 3.3. The men averaged 80 points a game, shot 46% from the field, 33% from three and 71% from the free-throw line. They had a 15-2 record at the Power Plant and a 7-7 record at opponents’ venues.

“ I thought the season ended strong, finishing 23-9, finishing third in the best conference in the country, Head Coach Kyle Fisher said. “And, you know, when this team’s been through a lot with two different key players being injured for multiple games, and multiple COVID postponements throughout the season, even though we’ve never had Covid-19 to have seven or eight games postponed and have to finish the season playing 10 games in 21 days and five in our last week. considering all that this team went through, I thought we had a really strong season. We were one of only five or six teams in the entire country to play to be either ranked or receiving votes in the country every single week. So for us to finish in the top 25 considering we had a top 25 schedule or a top 10 strength of schedule, according to the Massey ratings, and given the postponements and injuries that we had I think we had a really good year.”

Fisher, in his first season, turned the Butler men’s program from a team that only won half of their games to a top 25 team.

“You know, I think the first thing is we’ve recruited, tough-minded winners here,” Fisher said. “We like to recruit guys from winning programs, guys that play hard and guys that have toughness. I think we like to say that the program was hovering around average and mediocre for a while, and we’ve been in the top 25, finished in the top 25 for the last three years and that’s really hard to do in this conference to finish there. A lot of teams in our conference have spent a week or two weeks in the top 25. But to be in that final poll recognized as one of the top 25 programs in the country is really hard to do. But it all starts with recruiting the right student-athletes in here with the right mindset that are about the team and about working hard and about getting better.”

The men started their season with a loss to Colby, 9-1. They then lost two straight to Hutch and Dodge and ended their last 10 games going 8-2. They were red hot during the mid-season stretch.

“Because of the circumstances in recruiting surrounded by Covid-19 and an extra year of eligibility, we have a bunch of players that will have the option to pursue opportunities at the four-year level but will also have the option to return,” Fisher said. “It’s very unique timing for guys to be in a third-year junior college program that was very competitive. It was very common in our league to have third-year guys, but it’s kind of up to each individual and whether or not they choose to return or not. I’m hopeful that those guys get opportunities to play at the highest level, which would mean we would have a lot of turnover and would be re-recruiting nearly an entire roster, which is what I did in my first year. There were only two players returning and we signed 15 new players, but it’ll take a while for everything to get sorted out. Between who will return and who will not. But regardless, the expectations don’t change and we will still expect to be one of the premier programs of the Jayhawk.”

Fisher intends to continue to recruit in Kansas since the head coach feels that there are some solid college athletes here.

“We had three players this year that played 20 minutes or more with Keyon Thomas, Jaden Okon and Marque English, so we’ve had some really good players from the state of Kansas here and that won’t change,” Fisher said. “There’s good players, and good basketball will always start in the state of Kansas. Obviously, I don’t think we’ll have a full roster from the state of Kansas. We’ll go in with the transfer portal being the way that it is there’s a lot of available good players that are transferred out of Division One. We will always focus our recruiting efforts, especially early like now in the state of Kansas to start building away from the state and filling in different roster spots from all over the country.”

The veteran Grizzlies are also on the move as they open the next chapter in their career and life. Holt has committed to Stetson University. They play in the Sun Conference and are D1. Caleb Golden will play for Tarleton State University, a D1 program that competes in the WAC (Western Athletic Conference).

The Grizzlies went 23-9 overall and 16-8 in the conference and finished in third in the conference behind Dodge and Hutch. That is the expectation that Fisher sets for his men’s team, and it’s what we will be getting and maybe even more.

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