New Butler basketball head coach Brandon Miller does have one thing going for him.
Butler Athletic Director Barry Collier put an ending to an already abrupt coaching search on Saturday, hiring Miller just three days after the departure of Stevens. To put this in perspective, Dwight Howard has probably taken longer than three days to order a meal at his local Arby’s at one point or another.
It was a shrewd business decision by Collier. I’m not referring to the hiring of Miller, because like with any coach heading into a new situation, the ones who know the least about basketball are probably the ones who have the most definitive predictions about how the coach is going to fare.
The shrewdness I’m referring to is the decisiveness, (warranted in this case), from Collier.
Butler easily could have wallowed in the departure of one of the best head coaches in college basketball. The man who brought the Bulldogs to back-to-back championship games. The man who has the most wi.... You’re probably as sick of reading about Brad Stevens’ college coaching credentials as I am of writing about them, so I’ll save you the trouble.
Instead, they handled it like any classy institution would. They paid their respects to Coach Stevens and said all the right things.
And as suddenly as Stevens had shocked the basketball world by fleeing to Boston, he was replaced.
While there is still bound to be negative buzz about Stevens leaving the Bulldogs, Collier’s quick action has created a positive buzz around the program once again. People are excited for Miller Time.
Sorry. I’ll leave the bad college basketball puns to Jim Nantz from now on. Regardless, the focus is now on the future of Butler basketball instead of the past. That can’t possibly be a bad thing.
Much of the positive buzz comes from the notion that Miller and Stevens seem so eerily similar from a distant perspective.
They both played point guard in college, with Stevens playing at Division III DePauw and Miller playing his ball at Butler. They essentially took the same route to the top of the Butler program, starting as low-paid video coordinators and catapulting themselves up the coaching ladder at young ages. And Stevens obviously had to think highly of a guy he hired twice (once for his first season in 2007-2008, and again in April.)
The similarities are great. Still, no coach ever succeeded to his full potential by trying to copy someone else exactly. And while the women of Butler University are likely wishing he could look just like Stevens on the sidelines, I’m referring to his actual coaching style. He needs to be different than Stevens, but in a positive way.
Stevens was one of a kind.
Former Providence coach Tim Welsh echoed such sentiments in a recent New York Times Story:
“They’re going to lose that; I don’t care who they hire,” Welsh said. “He was one of the top two or three coaches in college basketball; there’s no question about it.”
Still, As great as Stevens was, he never reeled in a top 25 recruiting class to Butler according to Rivals.com.
Now in the Big East, recruiting is the one area in which Miller can create an identity and put his own stamp on the Butler program. He may have his work cut out for him thrown into the fire for 2014 prospects, but a successful year on the court would do wonders on the recruiting scene for 2015 and beyond.
He appears to have the right attitude, judging by his recent quotes in a USA Today Story:
"My philosophy, coaching and things that I believe in and stand for, a lot of those things are similar to Brad's," Miller said. "A lot of people we talk to in coaching are the same. (Brad and I) have kept in touch throughout the years, and we not only have a professional relationship, but a friendship. We talk ball, we talk Xs and Os.
"With that said, we aren't the same person. We don't coach the exact same way. I'll make tweaks, I'll make adjustments. I believe if you don't do that, that's not coaching. Brad Stevens did a great job being Brad Stevens. My goal is to be the best Brandon Miller I can be."