Brandon Miller

Butler v Marquette

Brad Stevens supports Butler and Chris Holtmann, sympathizes with Brandon Miller

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Brad Stevens and the Boston Celtics are in Indianapolis for a Friday night matchup with the Indiana Pacers.

The former Butler head coach returned to the school he brought to back-to-back Final Fours earlier in the day, according to the Indy Star. Stevens was attending a retirement ceremony for Butler’s longtime sports information director Jim McGrath.

Since Stevens’ jump to the NBA in July 2013, the program has entered the Big East Conference, and is currently on its second different head coach. Former Butler guard Brandon Miller was tabbed as Stevens’ successor, serving as head coach for one season. He took a leave of absence on October 2, leaving his duties to assistant coach Chris Holtmann.

After guiding the Bulldogs to an 11-4 start, which included a win over then-No. 5 North Carolina, Holtmann had his interim tag removed and agreed to a multi-year contract with the university. In his first game as the permanent head coach, Butler knocked off No. 15 St. John’s on the road.

On Friday, Stevens discussed the state of the program with Curt Cavin of the Indy Star. The Celtics coach remains a follower, even from afar.

“First and foremost, my heart and my sympathies are with Brandon and his family,” Stevens told Cavin. “I’m very excited that they had a person like Chris there (on staff) and the staff that was there with (assistant coaches) Michael Lewis and Terry Johnson. Those guys who were there with me really handled a tough situation fantastic, and I’m really happy that’s going to be a long-term thing now with Chris at the helm.

“I thought all those guys did just a marvelous job. I’m happy for them and you can bet I want them to beat ‘X’ (Xavier) tomorrow.”

This may have been a homecoming of sorts for Stevens, but he has been a topic of discussion a month ago, when he had to shoot down speculation that he could take over at Indiana, given the extended rebuilding process going on in Boston following the Rajon Rondo trade.

Stevens is in the second year of a six-year deal with Boston. Tom Crean, in his seventh season in Bloomington, has the Hoosiers 11-4 on the season.

Butler removes head coach Chris Holtmann’s interim tag

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Less than two weeks before the start of practices in October Butler announced that head coach Brandon Miller would be taking an indefinite leave of absence for health reasons, with Chris Holtmann taking the reins as interim head coach. Holtmann, who joined Miller’s staff in June 2013, wasn’t taking the job lacking head coaching experience as he’d served as head coach at Gardner-Webb in the three seasons prior to his move to Indianapolis.

That, along with the return of versatile forward Roosevelt Jones, helped the Bulldogs get off to a 10-4 start that even saw them climb into the AP Top 25 for four weeks earlier in the year. Eventually a decision would be made on the status of both Holtmann and Miller, and on Friday in a move that didn’t come as a surprise it was announced that Holtmann’s interim tag has been removed and he’ll remain the team’s head coach.

According to Jeff Goodman of ESPN.com, Holtmann and the school have agreed to a multi-year contract that will undoubtedly help eliminate any possible “job security” questions that can spring up on the recruiting trail.

“I am honored to be named the Head Coach at Butler University and it is a real privilege to serve the University in this capacity,” Holtmann said in the release. “I would like to thank President (James) Danko and (athletic director) Barry Collier for their significant leadership and guidance during these last few months. I would also like to thank our staff and players for their incredible support and hard work. This is a special place and a program rich in tradition. We look forward to working extremely hard to make the Butler community proud in the coming years.

“We are grateful to Brandon for his leadership and he will always be an important part of Butler Basketball. He and his family remain in our program’s thoughts and prayers.”

Butler takes on No. 15 St. John’s Saturday in its second consecutive road game. The Bulldogs lost at No. 6 Villanova in their Big East opener on Wednesday.

Butler coaching staff changes signal Brandon Miller’s return won’t be speedy

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On Tuesday, Butler announced changes to their men’s basketball staff.

Emerson Kampen, a former player for the Bulldogs, was promoted from graduate assistant to assistant coach, a position that was left vacant when Chris Holtmann was promoted to interim head coach. The program also announced that Brandon Crone had been hired as the director of basketball operations, a position that had been vacant since July. Like Kampen, Crone was a former player with the Bulldogs.

The reason these staff changes are noteworthy is that Butler head coach Brandon Miller announced earlier this month that he would be taking an indefinite leave of absence from the program, citing health concerns. Holtmann doesn’t know how long he’ll carry the interim tag, but these changes suggest that it could be an extended period of time. If Miller was expected to be returning to the staff prior to the season starting, would the Bulldogs be making these kinds of changes? Would they be filling vacant assistant coaching positions?

Butler, up to this point, has been mum on the timetable for a potential return to the bench for Miller. They’ve also been silent on what, specifically, is the cause of this leave of absence.

Anyway, here is a quote from Holtmann that was sent out in the release.

“We are excited about the increased role of Emerson and the addition of Brandon to our staff,” said Holtmann.  “Emerson has been a part of some of the most accomplished teams in the history of our program and, while young, he has an impressive basketball IQ and terrific rapport with our players.”

“Brandon has a great appreciation and understanding of the Butler Way and as a player here, he was tough, competitive and driven, leading his team to the most wins in program history at the time.  Brandon has great experience as both a professional player and as an assistant coach at the college level, and we’re pleased to welcome him back.”

Chris Holtmann doesn’t know how long he’ll be Butler’s interim coach

Gardner-Webb v North Carolina
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Earlier this month, Butler announced that head coach Brandon Miller will be taking an indefinite leave of absence from the program.

And while the initial cause of the leave of absence was attributed to Miller’s health, according to the release that Butler sent out, the exact cause or timeframe has yet to truly be discussed.

On Monday, Michael Pointer of the Indy Star published a profile of interim head coach Chris Holtmann, a former head coach at Gardner-Webb, and while you get a bit of a background look at what led Holtmann to give up a head coaching position to take an assistant’s job at Butler, what is much more noteworthy is the discussion of how long Holtmann will be in his new role.

“I can honestly tell you I don’t know,” Holtmann told Pointer. “I’ve had other people ask me that and all I can say is, ‘I don’t know.’ As far as I know, I’m going to be the head coach today and tomorrow. That’s all I really know.”

But Pointer also hints at the idea that this could be a season-long thing, which is a tough position to be put in. It’s hard to get too excited about being a head coach in the Big East when the reason you have that role is that the man that hired you has had to leave his job for health reasons.

Butler head coach Brandon Miller takes leave of absence, health related

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Butler head coach Brandon Miller will be taking a leave of absence from the basketball program for health reasons, the school announced on Thursday.

Chris Holtmann, an assistant coach that was hired last year and was previously the head coach at Gardner-Webb, has been named the interim head coach.

This is a tough spot for both Miller and the Butler program. College basketball practices can officially begin on Friday and Butler will hold their first practice on Saturday, meaning that Miller is taking time away from the program right as the season is set to begin.

Miller is just 35 years old. He took over for Brad Stevens prior to the 2013-2014 season when Stevens moved onto to the Boston Celtics. In Butler’s first season in the Big East, Miller led them to a 14-17 record and a 4-14 mark in league play. Miller took a year off after the 2010-2011 season, when he was an assistant at Ohio State, as well.

Makeover of Butler’s Hinkle Fieldhouse nearing completion

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For many of the programs that have seen their revenue grow due to a switch in conferences, the renovation of current facilities (and even the building of new facilities) tends to be one of the side effects. However even with the added revenue there’s still the need for fundraising in order to complete those projects, because regardless of conference affiliation donors willing to help finance projects are of great importance.

At Butler donors stepped up in a big way when the school asked for donations for its project to renovate Hinkle Fieldhouse, with the school having announced back in January that it had surpassed its goal of raising $16 million. At that time more than $17.1 million had been raised for the project, which is intended to make Hinkle more modern while also preserving its history.

Thursday Mike DeCourcy of The Sporting News provided a look at some of the changes, which include a four-sided scoreboard and brand new locker rooms.

The seating area is being renovated so that there’ll be only a few bleachers remaining and the chairback seats installed are more comfortable and modern. That will cost the arena, which previously held 10,000 for basketball, some seating capacity.

Butler also has built new weight rooms, training rooms and therapy areas for use by the basketball team and other Bulldogs athletes.

For some traditionalists the changes to Hinkle may be something they’re hesitant to embrace but in this current era of college athletics sparkling facilities have an impact on multiple aspects of a program, including recruiting and even non-conference scheduling. The changes being made to Hinkle give head coach Brandon Miller something to pitch to recruits as he looks to build Butler into a program that can compete for Big East championships.

With Roosevelt Jones lost for the season before it even began Butler struggled in its debut season in the Big East, finishing the 2013-14 campaign with a 14-17 record (4-14 Big East). Leading scorer Kellen Dunham (16.4 ppg, 4.0 rpg) returns, but the Bulldogs will have to account for the loss of second-leading scorer Khyle Marshall (14.9, 4.8) in 2014-15.