Ask about his offensive output, and he credits his teammates' passes.

Ask about his increased role, and it goes back to his coach's play designs.

Ask about his career-high 24 points two days earlier, and it's only because the defense was locked in on one of his teammates.

Andrew Chrabascz isn't biting. Talk about himself? Talk about his 45-point outburst over the past three games? Talk about breathing life into an offense desperate for any contributions?

No thanks, says Chrabascz. Butler's freshman forward doesn't feel the need while his team slogs through its worst conference season in two decades.

"It's bittersweet," Chrabascz said of his recent scoring spurt. "Because we're still not closing our games."

Chrabascz, a 6-7, 225-pound college rookie from Portsmouth, R.I., has been a bright spot since he was thrown into the starting lineup three games ago. Even more, he's been the consistent low-post scorer the team has craved all season.

If it was a gamble by Butler coach Brandon Miller, call it a gamble that has paid off ten-fold.

But despite Chrabascz's contributions, the Bulldogs have won just once in that span. That leaves them a disappointing 2-9 in the Big East heading into Tuesday's game against rival Xavier at Hinkle Fieldhouse.

Beyond this season, which sputters forward with so many narrow defeats beginning to blend together, Chrabascz offers promise for the future. His singular, selfless style meshes seamlessly in a program that values those traits above all others. Stated simply: He plays like a Bulldog.

He's been tagged — prematurely, of course — as the second coming of one of the program's all-time greats. Even before Chrabascz stepped on campus, he was dubbed The Next Matt Howard. Twenty-four games into his college career, his play has done nothing to change the comparison.

Like Howard, Chrabascz's baskets are seldom a thing of beauty. Like Howard, he seems more comfortable shooting after contact than before it. And, like Howard, he prides himself in the dirty work.

"Coach Stevens always used to say, 'The game honors toughness,' and you can see that in him," Howard said via email from Germany, where he plays professionally. "I love his attitude and approach to the game. His energy, effort and physicality are something the Bulldogs need."

Chrabascz, in his modest manner, deems the comparison "the ultimate compliment." Howard's gritty game, after all, was one of the principal reasons he chose Butler. It was what former coach Brad Stevens sold him on during his recruitment.

"You can play that role for us," Stevens promised.

Howard's role lives on in Butler lore, his scraggly hair an apt symbol for a reckless style. He dove into the stands for loose balls with his team up 30. He complained when a concussion kept him off the court. He thrived on playing ugly and winning the hard way.

In the process, Howard finished third in career scoring and rebounding for Butler. He was never outworked. He was never out-toughed. He was The Butler Way.

No Bulldog has ever won more games.