For more on college basketball, follow Tom Davis via Twitter at Tom101010.
INDIANAPOLIS – Butler lost a pair of guards prior to Saturday's season opener against Elon, one to a dismissal from the program (junior Chrishawn Hopkins), and another to a transfer (freshman Chris Harrison-Docks). However, what Saturday's 74-59 victory over the Phoenix demonstrated was that the backcourt depth for the Bulldogs is not a concern at all.
Butler coach Brad Stevens utilized six different players in varying roles to fill the perimeter positions and each contributed to the success of the team. One of those six players, however, is a bit of a surprise to have made the impact that he did.
Sophomore Alex Barlow isn't on scholarship, he walked on with the Bulldogs (1-0) a year ago, but regardless of that status, he's just another player to Stevens.
“When you are analyzing your team that's on the floor, you do it as a team,” Stevens said. “There are 14 players. There aren't 11 scholarship players and three walk-ons.”
The fact that Barlow is paying his way didn't affect his role on Saturday. The Springboro, Ohio native played 17 minutes and was very productive. He grabbed seven rebounds (second best on the team), connected on his only shot attempt and dished out three assists, while turning the ball over just once.
As efficient as the 5-foot-11 guard was offensively, Stevens liked him just as much defensively.
“I trust Barlow a great deal,” Stevens said. “He plays to win and he's really good defensively.”
There were indications that Barlow was more than just a scout team player last season, as he received increasing time through the post-season (averaging 20 minutes per game). He ultimately played in 16 games as a freshman and despite the fact that Butler had three point guards on scholarship this fall (fifth-year senior Rotnei Clarke, sophomore Jackson Aldridge, and Harrison-Docks), Stevens felt Barlow deserved a bigger role than your typical walk-on.
“(Barlow) has earned his spot,” Stevens said. “There is no question about it in our rotation and I think he'll continue to make us a better team.”
Clarke paced Butler in scoring with 21 points against Elon (0-1), while Kellen Dunham (18 points), and Khyle Marshall (14) also contributed.
Sophomore forward Roosevelt Jones dished out six assists to go with six points and nine boards. Defensively, Jones was a big factor in limiting Elon's top returning scorer, Zionsville native Jack Isenbarger, to just four points on 2 of 9 shooting.
Butler will travel to Xavier on Tuesday at 4 p.m. (ESPN).