Butler is a really unique program. Plenty of so-called mid-majors have been able to build long-standing success in recent years, but the Butler way is practically unheard of. You can be a Belmont or a Gonzaga, hiring and keeping a humble coach. That’s one way to stay ahead of the curve. Or you can be a Xavier, Wichita State type, hiring a stream of great coaches from far and wide who keep the program chugging.
But only Butler has made a habit of hiring from within, no matter how huge the job gets.
The list of coaches who won at Butler and moved on to bigger things is long. Barry Collier begat Thad Matta begat Todd Lickliter begat Brad Stevens. Collier was a Butler grad who revived the program and started the upward trend, and each man who followed was on the his predecessor’s staff. The trend continued even after Stevens turned Butler into a perennial title contender. Big-time assistants from outside the program coveted the job, but it went to a Butler assistant again, and Brandon Miller took over.
And it’s easy to see why this approach works for the Bulldogs. Players on the way in already know the coach – he was in on their recruitment all along. They know the adjustment period will be minimal or nil, because the Butler Way is an unbroken chain from Collier to Miller.
So, it’s appropriate that Miller’s first signee is an Indiana kid, who presumably knows the value of tradition. From Adam Zagoria:
Tyler Wideman, a 6-foot-7 power forward from St. John (IN) Lake Central, pulled the trigger for the Bulldogs, becoming the first player to pledge to Miller since he took over for Brad Stevens earlier this month.
“Tyler brings a physical style of play,” his coach Dave Milausnic told SNY.tv.
“He rebounds extremely well in traffic and defensively does a good job of keeping bigs off the low block. Offensively, he has good feet around the basket and can finish with either hand. His mid-range game has vastly improved.”
Wideman is the first home-state kid to pop for Miller’s tutelage, but Bulldogs fans certainly hope he isn’t the last. Major blue-chipper Trey Lyles is still considering Butler alongside Louisville, Kentucky and Florida. But Wideman sounds like a classic Butler hard-nose, and he’s a darn good start for a new coach.
Eric Angevine is the editor of Storming the Floor. He tweets @stfhoops.