Utah State basketball: Spencer Butterfield taking on bigger role for Aggies
College basketball • Junior’s work ethic boosting Utah State.
Published: January 2, 2013 11:42PM
Updated: January 2, 2013 11:50PM

Logan • It’s become a common sight after games at the Dee Glen Smith Spectrum.

After the game is over, Spencer Butterfield isn’t done. He’ll grab a rebounder, and spend a few more minutes shooting from the wings. He’ll take dozens of shot in the arena with only stadium sweepers watching.

It’s that kind of work ethic that has seemingly paid off for the junior guard as he assumes a greater role with the Utah State basketball team. From a junior college transfer to a reserve shooting ace to a starter, Butterfield has come to characterize a sense of toughness that coach Stew Morrill expects out of the 11-1 Aggies this season.

“We said when we recruited him that he had a little bit of Brian Green and a little bit of Tyler Newbold, kind of a mix between the two,” Morrill said. “Those are two hard-nosed, gritty competitors for us, and he’s kind of cut from the same cloth.”

The 6-foot-3 guard from Northern California won’t bowl anyone over with his measurements or physical gifts, but in some ways that works in his favor. The unassuming Butterfield, even as Utah State’s third- or fourth-best offensive option, makes the most of his looks.

Opponents have found it hard to shut him out. He can make backdoor cuts to the rim, and he has the highest 3-point shooting percentage on the team at a 47.4 clip. He’s the third-best rebounder and adds 2.3 assists per game. He has a knack for hitting a run-killing shot, his coaches have noted.

If there’s a way to contribute, Butterfield usually finds it. If other teams are too focused on Preston Medlin or Jarred Shaw, he can be even more lethal.

“Our team just has so many threats,” he said. “That’s one of the big things. They’re so focused on the other guys, it gives me some open looks.”

Butterfield has had to play a greater role following the unexpected diminished depth at the wing spots. With him, Marvin Jean and Medlin, the Aggies have had to cover two positions, and have given everyone more minutes.

Medlin’s minutes are still the highest — the junior averages 35 a game — but Butterfield, who played an average of 28.5 minutes in the first WAC contests, is sure to be up the list soon.

“I think we’re all up for the challenge,” Butterfield said. “We all work so hard in practice, we have confidence in ourselves.”

It’s been hard even to keep him off the court. In the third game in as many days in the World Vision Challenge, Butterfield came down with flu-like symptoms and was feeling dizzy and disoriented. As the Aggies got into their game against Southern Illinois, Morrill dismissed Butterfield’s request to play even so.

So when Butterfield was ready to go out for a few minutes near the end of an 18-point, nine-assist game against Texas State, Morrill knew that he had given all he had.

“He was giving me the white-flag sign,” Morrill said. “ ‘Get me out of here, I’m tired.’ Because he had played so dang hard. He’s doing well right now.”

Seattle at Utah State

O At Dee Glen Smith Spectrum (Logan)

Tipoff • 7 p.m.

TV • KMYU

Radio • 97.5 FM

Records • Utah State 11-1, 2-0; Seattle 5-6, 0-1.