Keith Butler blocks Duke's Sheldon Williams shot
After a sitting out a season following his transfer from Temple University, DePaul Blue Demons senior-to-be Keith Butler is ready to step in and contribute. With the loss of only one starter in center Marlon Brumfield, the player most likely to break into the DePaul men’s basketball starting lineup next season is the 7-1 250 pound Butler.
Blue Demons assistant coach Gary DeCesare expects immediate contributions from Keith Butler. “I think he’s going to obviously give us a great offensive post presence, which may have been something we were lacking a little bit last season,” said DeCesare. “Defensively he’s going to help us tremendously.”
Butler agrees with DeCesare on his future plans. “To give a strong post presence for the most part, both defensively and offensively,” Butler said.
Keith is the younger brother of former DePaul center Lamar Butler. What Butler brings to the table is three years of experience playing at Temple. As a junior for the Owls, Keith averaged 4.0 points, 4.3 rebounds, and just under two blocks per game while averaging 20 minutes per game. “Keith has been working hard and getting better,” DeCesare observed. “I think it’s going to be a big plus to have him for a year. He’s got a lot of college experience under his belt, playing three years. I would say he’s played close to one hundred games.”
The DePaul staff would like to see Keith use that experience to lead next year’s team. “We’d like him to be a leader since he has a lot of experience on the floor,” DeCesare expressed. “We had a really young team this year. I think his experience will help us in a leadership role.”
While sitting out his transfer year, Butler has had the opportunity to work on improving his game and his physical condition. “The most important thing when anybody is sitting out is to make sure that he’s well conditioned,” DeCesare said. “I think that’s the big thing with a big guy like that. The key to him is being in top shape.”
Butler agrees and also defined strength and conditioning as his top goals. “To keep getting stronger and stronger, conditioning, trying to get in game shape,” Butler said.
Keith has spent the year adjusting to a new school and a different style of play. “I’ve learned a whole different type of system of playing,” said Butler. “It’s more of a motion offense compared to what I was used to before.”
Butler has also had to adjust to a new head coach. After playing under now retired coach John Chaney for three years, he compared Chaney with Blue Demons coach Jerry Wainwright. “Coach Wainwright is more of a player’s coach, he’s trying to let you play, he’s not as strict, but still emphasizes certain things.”
With the addition of Butler, the Blue Demons may change their style of play for next season to suit the center’s strengths. “It will change to more of an inside-out game,” stated Keith.
DeCesare talked about the big man’s passing skills. “He’s a very good passer. He can really pass the ball out of the high post. His presence will help everybody else on the team.”
DePaul is also looking for more offensive output from the center position. Butler will be looked upon to score. “They definitely want me to score more now,” Keith added.
“One of the things that were lacking (last season) was for us was to be able to go directly into the post to score,” DeCesare said. “Keith does a really good job with his back to the basket moves and facing the basket.”
On the defensive end, Butler considers his biggest strength to be “my shot-blocking”. In the 2003-04 season Butler blocked a career high seven shots at future Big East opponent Rutgers.
Keith considers one key to success to be to “stay out of foul trouble”, which is something that occasionally limited his playing time at Temple.
With four returning starters, Butler feels that the team’s experience and chemistry will help them succeed next season. Butler is looking for impact seasons from teammates Wilson Chandler, Jabari Currie, Karron Clarke, Sammy Mejia, and Draelon Burns. “I think the team flows together as a whole, everybody can play together, everybody knows what everybody else can do,” Keith said.
Butler will be a big man to watch in the Big East next season. He often studies the moves of other centers. “Shaq is my favorite player, but I have more of a finesse game. I don’t have as much power as he does,” Keith quipped.
What goals and expectations do Keith and the DePaul team have for next season? “Going to the NCAA tournament and trying to win the national championship.”