Logan •Â He can run now. He'll never be the fastest Aggie, but Spencer Butterfield can run.
Months of walking, unable to sprint up and down the court, made him appreciate the feeling more. When he goes on a fast break, it's like flying compared to what Butterfield could do only months ago.
The senior guard, who made the All-WAC second team last season, has started the season like many people remember from last season. In two wins, Butterfield has scored in double digits while picking up five rebounds in each contest the scrappy play that he's become known for in just over a year with the Aggies.
It's taken a long time to get back after offseason surgery.
"The coaches were good about keeping me back until I was ready," he said. "I feel pretty good right now. I'm back to normal."
Butterfield spends a lot of time working out his hip, stretching it and testing it. He did a number on it himself, playing through great pain to finish out last season when Utah State couldn't take any more injuries.
After the WAC tournament, he finally had the chance to get surgery on it. He spent six weeks on crutches, and couldn't even work up a jog until four months after his operation.
For Butterfield, a workaholic who never had to deal with an injury of this magnitude, it was a challenge to stay mentally on track while not being able to fully practice.
"I was trying to do whatever I could," he said. "In the beginning it was just rehab. After that I was shooting as much as I could. Anything I could do to stay mentally focused."
Once he was able to run slowly, it was another month before he could truly sprint. Everything was gradual, Butterfield said, and the recovery process was inch by inch on some days.
But there was progress.
"I could sprint a little faster," he said. "I could jump a little higher."
These days, Butterfield runs in the starting lineup, having earned a spot through his leadership last year. Utah State also counts on him to score points inside and out, rebound aggressively, and play good defense.
That last aspect, defense, is tricky with a bum hip. Butterfield said he's worked a lot on his lateral movement: moving his feet, staying in front of his mark.
Like his offseason, it's a work in progress.
"I'm just trying to help out however I can," he said. "Last season seems like a long time ago. We want to have success this year."
Men's basketball Utah State at UC Santa Barbara
O At Santa Barbara, Calif.
Tipoff • Saturday, 8 p.m.
Radio • 1280 AM
Records • Utah State 2-0; UCSB 2-0
Series history • USU leads 39-24
Last meeting • UCSB 72, USU 64 (Feb. 18, 2012)
About the Aggies • Utah State scored 90 points against Southern Utah, the team's most in a game since March of 2012. â¦ Senior center Jarred Shaw leads the team with 18 points per game, scoring 24 against the T-birds. â¦ The Aggies are leaving the state for the only time during their non-conference schedule; their only other away game is at Weber State, and they'll play BYU on a neutral court.
About the Gauchos • UC Santa Barbara is coming off a win against another Mountain West team, stomping UNLV in Las Vegas, 86-65. â¦ Forward Alan Williams is the team's leading scorer and rebounder, with a 24-point, 13-board average in his first two games.
ONLINE NOW • Senior guard Spencer Butterfield has started the season well after a long recovery period after offseason surgery.