Butler sisters prepare to fill void left by Syracuse’s 4 departing seniors
Tiara and Tasia Butler finally got what they wanted. They could finally play basketball whenever they liked, thanks to the new hoop in their backyard.
But it didn’t last. Too many kids from the neighborhood tried to play on it and before too long, the hoop had to be taken down.
“It was the nicest hoop in the whole area, in our whole neighborhood,” Tiara said.
Thanks to their strict practice schedule with their father, though, the Butler sisters still practiced regularly enough to develop their games.
In addition to freshmen twins Briana and Bria Day, Tiara and Tasia Butler compose the other sisterly connection on Syracuse’s (21-8, 10-6 Atlantic Coast) roster. Tiara is a redshirt junior guard and Tasia is a 6-foot-1 freshman wing, part of Syracuse’s highly rated Class of 2013.
A four-star recruit, Tasia came in as the No. 12 guard in the country and No. 73 overall recruit after averaging a double-double in her senior year at North Point High School in Waldorf, Md. Her older sister has been battling a lower-body injury this year, but appeared in 26 games throughout her first two seasons at SU.
Although Tasia has fallen behind in Syracuse’s depth chart because of a crowded backcourt this season, she and her sister could become more integral to the Orange’s rotation next year as SU will look to replace its four current seniors.
“Tasia is a talented player and she’s getting better in practice, so her role will increase,” SU head coach Quentin Hillsman said. “Tiara will have to get back on the court to be able to see opportunities physically. They’re both very instinctual on defense and they run the floor well.
“It’s funny because I think you can kind of see a lot of them in each other.”
That’s likely a result of so much time practicing against each other — even though Tasia hated basketball, at first.
“She just wanted to dance. She hated coming to games, she hated being in the gym,” Tiara said. “Next thing you know, she’s here in college with me. It’s crazy.”
Throughout most of elementary school, it was the same routine every day. After the Butler sisters would get home from school, Tasia would be off to dance class while her older sister went to the gym with their father.
Once the dance phase ended for Tasia around fifth grade, she wanted to join her sister and father at the gym, but just to shoot around.
“Then I realized I actually liked it. I saw how good Tiara was and how good I could be,” Tasia said. “Everybody always told me, ‘You’re tall, you’ve got the height. Your sister’s athletic, so I know you’ve got it in you.’”
Tiara herself developed her skills within two years of taking basketball seriously, so Tasia joined the program. Even if one of them had practice or a game, they wouldn’t go to bed without practicing with their father.
For 2–3 hours a day, they’d hone their shot and run through drills with him. They ran races to pit Tiara’s speed against the bigger Tasia’s conditioning. They’d watch film and even play basketball video games. They started to breathe the game.
“We were able to force each other to get better. It was so competitive,” Tiara said.
The Butlers played one-on-one against each other often — until Tasia finally won a game.
But that practice together began to pay off on the hardwood. At North Point, they had obvious chemistry, running plenty of drive-and-kicks, screen-and-rolls and pick-and-pops for each other.
Tiara averaged 8.3 points and 6.4 rebounds per game her senior year and was ranked one of the top players in the area. Tasia scored 19.1 points with 10 rebounds per game as a senior, and won a Maryland 4A State Championship.
Now at Syracuse, Tasia is still transitioning to college basketball as she tries to earn herself more playing time — while also adjusting to the amount of snow she never saw in Maryland winters.
And in the heat of the season, rooming together on SU’s road trips reminds both sisters of the days they had bunk beds growing up.
Said Tasia: “It feels like home just having her here.”
Published on March 4, 2014 at 12:57 am